Our strategic focus
The Forum’s current work is centred on climate change

 “One of the most significant emerging humanitarian concerns we now face.”
Kofi Annan




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The human impact of climate change refers to the negative effects that climate change is having on people and communities around the world today.

The Forum recently issued its Human Impact Report: Climate Change – The Anatomy of a Silent Crisis which is the first comprehensive volume to document the global human impact of climate change on human society today. The report estimates that around 300,000 people die each year because of climate change; that some 350 million people are severely affected either temporarily or permanently due to climate change; that over 20 million people have been forcibly displaced; and over 100 billion dollars worth of damage is caused annually.

Climate change is today’s most significant emerging humanitarian concern. It is a direct and all-encompassing threat to health and safety, agriculture and the economy, and social and political stability. All regions of the world are affected.


99% of the casualties linked to climate change, and over 90% of the economic losses, concern developing countries alone.

4 billion people worldwide live in zones considered vulnerable from an environmental perspective. And drought, heat waves, floods and severe storms are becoming more coming in Australia, Europe and North America. However, the world’s poorest groups are worst hit today mainly because of the increased exposure to danger stemming from socio-economic vulnerability.

Most impacts are health related. Higher general temperatures cause climate-sensitive diseases, such as Malaria, to spread faster and further. Increasing water shortages affect the spread and control of diarrhoea. While floods, droughts and unpredictable weather casuse crop and livestock losses, reducing food supplies, and leading to hunger and increased malnutrition. In general, woman and children are worst affected.

Poor countries often lack safety infrastructure, or warning and rescue facilities in the face of stronger, less predictable severe weather. Extreme storms are capable of immense destruction especially where population density is high. In May 2008, Cyclone Nargis claimed over 100,000 lives and 4 billion dollars worth of economic losses in Myanmar.


Science today is unequivocal today as to the reality of climate change. However, climate change has long been understood as a distant, environmental or future concern. Its impacts on human society have received much less attention. The Forum works to increase awareness about climate change, to assist policy-making that deals with it, and boost practical action to tackle it.

The root causes of climate change can only be solved through collective international action. This is because in the medium and long term all countries must act in unison to reduce or limit emissions and their increasing warming effect. For that reason, the ongoing United Nations negotiations for a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, which effectively expires in 2012, are the best current opportunity to reach a global agreement for containing climate change and ending the suffering it causes.

Even a successful agreement, however, will take years to correct the current situation. Humanitarian, development and disaster reduction efforts, in particular, therefore need to be increased and adapted in order to cope with the additional, unfamiliar burden of climate change.


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