Shifting vulnerabilities

On the second day of the Conference we took a closer look at the shifts – in technology, climate, demography, and population distribution and movements – that are reshaping the world we live in. These shifts are complex and interrelated and affect millions of people around the world, bringing new opportunities, but also creating new risks and challenges.
The changes to society and the humanitarian landscape brought on by these shifts are so profound that we examined whether traditional assumptions and ways of working would still be effective. In any case, new approaches are needed. The Movement’s local presence and proximity to communities make us well prepared to understand, prevent, prepare for and respond to the shifts, and to drive global change.

This commission consisted of opening and closing plenaries and the following six spotlight sessions.

  • 1. The role of volunteers in community health

    This session focused on the changing role of volunteers in community health. It examined their vital role in addressing emerging health needs, including epidemic and pandemic detection and response. The case was made for increasing support and for shifting the focus from formal health systems to community health systems. The session underlined the importance, for prevention, preparedness, response and recovery work, of getting communities and local actors involved and that involvement being long-term, coordinated, consistent and sustained.

    Related documents
    • Resolution 3, “Time to act: Tackling epidemics and pandemics together” (33IC/19/R3) and its background document (33IC/19/12.3)
    • Model pledge: Tackling epidemics and pandemics together
    Responding to the second deadliest Ebola outbreak in history (available in English only)
    From words to action: Towards a community-centred approach to preparedness and response in health emergencies (available in English only)
  • 2. Addressing the humanitarian consequences of the climate crisis

    The impacts of climate change are here and now – we can all see the increased frequency, intensity and unpredictability of climate and weather extremes. Climate is not an issue of the future; it is an issue that concerns the entire International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement today. This session explored the humanitarian impacts of climate change, drew attention to the challenges and opportunities it creates, and identified what we can do now to scale up our joint efforts and foster commitment to tackle this issue, including through partnerships.

    Related documents
    • Resolution 7, “Disaster laws and policies that leave no one behind” (33IC/19/R7 and its background document (33IC/19/12.5)
    Framework for Climate Action: Towards 2020, IFRC (full document available in English only)
    The Cost of Doing Nothing, IFRC, 2019 (available in English only)
    The IFRC Commitments for the Climate Summit, IFRC, 2019 (available in English only)
  • 3. Building safe and inclusive urban communities through urban humanitarian action

    Urbanization is defining the future. More and more people are living in and moving to cities, and many of these people are in dire situations. Poverty, marginalization and inequality already make it harder for them to meet their needs. And as cities increasingly suffer the effects of climate change, insufficient basic services, overwhelmed capacities, warfare and violence, the urban poor are hit the hardest: they are the least able to protect themselves. People in urban areas are left with a variety of unmet needs, both humanitarian and development in nature. This manner of urbanization in developing countries and its rapid pace therefore shape the operational context for the entire International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.
    This spotlight session explored the humanitarian consequences of rapid urbanization from a global to a community perspective, and its implications on the Movement’s humanitarian action.

    Related documents
    • Model pledge: Reducing the vulnerabilities of urban communities and contributing to safe and inclusive cities through principled humanitarian action
    Building Urban Resilience: A Guide for Red Cross and Red Crescent Engagement and Contribution, IFRC, 2017 (available in English only)
    Coalition Building in Coastal Cities, Global Disaster Preparedness Center (available in English only)
    Urban Services during Protracted Armed Conflict, ICRC, 2015
  • 4. Scaling up mental health and psychosocial support for people affected by emergencies

    This session’s aim was to increase our collective sense of urgency in order to motivate States and National Societies to intensify their efforts on this issue. It also examined the consequences of the stigma associated with mental health (discrimination and exclusion) and identified avenues for strengthening the mental health and psychosocial well-being of humanitarian responders.

    Related documents
    • Resolution 2, “Addressing mental health and psychosocial needs of people affected by armed conflicts, natural disasters and other emergencies” (33IC/19/R2) and its background document (33IC/19/12.2)
    • Model pledge: Mental health and psychosocial needs: Integrating mental health and psychosocial support in humanitarian action
    • Model pledge: Mental health and psychosocial needs: Caring for staff and volunteers
    • Model pledge: Mental health and psychosocial needs: Building the capacity of the mental health and psychosocial support workforce
    • Model pledge: Mental health and psychosocial needs: Strengthening data collection, research, evidence-based practice and learning related to mental health and psychosocial support
    Mental Health in Emergencies, factsheet, WHO, 2019
    A Guide to Psychological First Aid, IFRC, 2018 (available in English, French and Arabic)
    Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support, ICRC, 2018
  • 5. Humanitarian action in the digital era

    This session explained the importance and impact of the digital transformation and the use of new technologies in humanitarian work. It examined how the Movement, States and others can adopt and maintain a principled approach in the digital era, with an emphasis on digital responsibility, digital inclusion and digital literacy.

    Related documents
    • Resolution 4, “Restoring Family Links while respecting privacy, including as it relates to personal data protection” (33IC/19/R4) and its background document (33IC/19/12.4)
    • Model pledge: Strengthening RFL services within the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and cooperation between the components of the Movement and States
    • Model pledge: RFL and domestic frameworks related to privacy, as it relates to personal data protection
    Data Playbook (available in English only)
    Handbook on Data Protection in Humanitarian Action, ICRC, 2017 (available in English only)
  • 6. Migration and internal displacement: upholding humanity

    This session raised awareness of the various challenges and humanitarian needs related to migration and internal displacement. It also discussed the Movement’s role and States’ responsibilities in addressing those needs, aiming to foster greater commitment and action to ensure that migrants and internally displaced people are protected, assisted and given access to essential services, and that the humanitarian space is preserved.
    Related documents
    • Resolution 3 of the 31st International Conference, “Migration: Ensuring Access, dignity, respect for diversity and social inclusion”
    • Resolution 8 of the 2019 Council of Delegates, “Adopting a Movement statement on migrants and our common humanity” (CD/19/R8)
    • Model pledge: Strengthening the response to internal displacement
    • Model pledge: Reaffirming the commitment to migration and our common humanity
    IFRC Global Strategy on Migration, 20182022
    Displaced in Cities: Experiencing and Responding to Urban Internal Displacement Outside Camps, ICRC, 2018
    Internal Displacement Strategy for 2016-2019, ICRC (available in English only)