What Does Climate Change Adaptation Mean for Humanitarian Assistance? Guiding Principles for Policymakers and Practitioners

Volume 48 Number 4
Published: August 9, 2017

Vulnerability to climate change is the result of complex interactions of various social, political, economic and environmental conditions. Humanitarian actions, while often having short-term and ‘neutral’ intentions, necessarily influence the development pathways that define people’s vulnerability to climate change. On the one hand, humanitarian interventions risk reinforcing existing vulnerability patterns by increasing the gap between those who benefit from different programmes and those that remain marginalised. On the other, addressing climate change may provide new opportunities for transforming the development pathways that create vulnerability in the first place. However, while there are shifts at the policy level towards integrating humanitarian assistance with longer‑term development, considerations about how humanitarian action may support transformational adaptation are often missing. This article describes a framework for integrating climate change adaptation concerns into humanitarian policies and actions, which has been developed in collaboration with several humanitarian organisations to support efforts to reduce longer‑term vulnerability and the recurrence of humanitarian crises.



  • Aid
  • Climate Change
From Issue: Vol. 48 No. 4 (2017) | Courting Catastrophe? Humanitarian Policy and Practice in a Changing Climate