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European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations
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© 2019 European Union (photographer: Xaume OLLEROS)
Climate change and Environment


What is it?

Climate change affects millions of people worldwide, deteriorates the humanitarian situation, and multiplies the needs of vulnerable communities. It alters the earth's temperatures and weather patterns, leading to global warming and increased frequency, scale and duration of extreme weather events.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), climate change is undeniably caused by human activity. The EU supports the most vulnerable people affected by crises caused or worsened by climate change. We also aim to reduce the environmental impact of humanitarian work.

Why is this important?

Human-induced climate change affects the pattern and severity of extreme weather events, which have become more frequent and less predictable. According to the IPCC, since 1900, human activities caused a temperature increase of 1.2°C.

Climate change is a serious threat to the world’s poorest countries, aggravating pre-existing crises and requiring higher efforts to meet the rise in humanitarian needs. Among its most common consequences there are:

  • food insecurity and water scarcity: extreme weather threatens agricultural resources. Lack of access to clean water results in waterborne diseases and diarrhoea, one of the main causes of death for children.
  • epidemics/health risks: as temperatures rise, diseases such as cholera, malaria and dengue fever, spread faster and are harder to contain.
  • migration and displacement: populations affected by natural hazards leave their land to seek shelter.
  • conflict and security: food shortages and scarcity of key resources can exacerbate tensions within entire regions, worsening the humanitarian situation for people already affected by conflict.

Over the last 2 decades, the number of low- and middle-income countries exposed to climate extremes increased from 76% to 98%, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

By 2050, over 200 million people could need humanitarian assistance every year due to climate-related disasters, as analysed by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

How are we helping?

The current climate and environmental crisis calls upon a new self-directed approach for the EU to reduce its environmental footprint both in the EU and globally, including within humanitarian action.

On 14 July 2021, the EU adopted a set of proposals summarised in the European Green Deal tabled in December 2019. The aim is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and make Europe the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050, an objective now enshrined in the legally binding European Climate Law.

To achieve the goals set by the European Green Deal, the EU has pledged to mobilise at least €1 trillion in sustainable investments over the next decade. Currently, 30% of the EU budget is dedicated to climate change objectives, and the EU is the world’s largest climate finance donor.

The EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations have joined the EU’s environmental journey. We are supporting the implementation of a greener humanitarian response and reducing the environmental and climate footprint of EU-funded humanitarian operations.

To do this, we help our humanitarian partners address environmental issues and reduce their footprint on the ecosystem. We are also facilitating collective learning within the humanitarian sector.


Climate and weather-related events requiring humanitarian assistance are intensifying. As a result, the EU humanitarian budget allocated for disasters caused by natural hazards has steadily grown over the years. It integrates dedicated programmes and tools, including:

  • Disaster preparedness: knowledge and resources developed by governments, organisations, communities and individuals to effectively anticipate, respond to and recover from disasters. Preparedness helps save lives, reduce suffering and decrease the extent of needs. It lessens the hazard’s impact and helps build the resilience of communities.
  • Early warning and information systems: they help the Emergency Response Coordination Centre monitor hazards and events around the world. These include earthquakes, tsunamis, tropical cyclones, volcanic activity, droughts, floods, and forest fires.
  • Copernicus satellite: it monitors our planet and its environment. Copernicus services deliver near-real-time data and mapping on a global, regional and local level. It helps us better understand our planet and sustainably manage the environment we live in.
  • Emergency toolbox: a funding instrument designed to respond to unexpected emergencies. It can address natural hazards, technological disasters, and epidemic outbreaks. It also includes the Disaster Relief Response Emergency Fund, belonging to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

In 2023, the EU allocated €78 million of its annual humanitarian funding to targeted preparedness actions, in addition to including preparedness elements in all its response operations. By the end of 2022, 1/3 EU-funded humanitarian projects included a preparedness component 

In addition, we allocated €29.5 million to the Emergency toolbox. The funding will aim to help communities affected by natural hazards fulfil with food assistance, health, water, sanitation, shelter, rehabilitation of basic infrastructures, protection, logistics and coordination.

The EU is also a supporter of the Climate and Environment Charter for Humanitarian Organisations and a co-sponsor and Signatory of the Humanitarian Donors’ Declaration on Climate and Environment.

Last updated: 05/04/2023

Facts & figures

Over the last 2 decades, the number of low- and middle-income countries exposed to climate extremes increased from 76% to 98%. (FAO) 

By 2050, over 200 million people could need humanitarian assistance every year due to climate-related disasters. (IFRC)


5 APRIL 2023
Analysis and mapping of expertise available to signatories on the implementation of the Climate and Environment Charter for Humanitarian Organisations


31 AUGUST 2022
Guidance on the operationalisation of the Minimum Environmental Requirements and Recommendations for EU-funded humanitarian aid operations


DG ECHO’s approach to reducing the environmental footprint of humanitarian aid


26 NOVEMBER 2021
Compendium of good practices for a greener humanitarian response

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5 APRIL 2023
Climate change and Environment