Early action and the climate crisis: could social protection be a game-changer? – World


  • The changing risk landscape, exacerbated by climate change and COVID-19, is setting us back from poverty goals and shrinking the window of opportunity for action.

  • Crises are increasingly multi-dimensional, severe and frequent, with many countries experiencing multiple overlapping crises, both recurrent and protracted, with worsening climate change bringing new and unexpected risks.

  • Current disaster response, adaptation and mitigation measures to address vulnerability and climate risks are insufficient and the existing international humanitarian institutional architecture is already overburdened.

  • There is a strong imperative for decisive collaborative action and good reasons for social protection to play a bigger role.

  • Increased focus on how an integrated approach to early action and social protection can be a game-changer in how we address the risks faced by climate-vulnerable populations, supporting the REAP goal of Protect 1 billion people from disasters by 2025.

Now is the time to invest in social protection to ensure that those most affected by climate change can build their resilience and avoid the worst impacts of disasters. At COP26, REAP and FCDO call for decisive action on social protection from the start.

To achieve this, stakeholders should:

  • ADOPT SOCIAL PROTECTION – Embrace social protection as key to achieving climate policy goals and enable early action at scale.

  • STRENGTHENING AND EXPANDING SOCIAL PROTECTION SYSTEMS – Invest in strengthening social protection systems and expanding coverage as part of developing an infrastructure for early action before shocks.

  • COORDINATE BETWEEN SECTORS – Strengthen coordination between sectors, actors, experts and agencies working on climate change, social protection, disaster risk management, humanitarian and gender equality, to ensure effective action and concerted action at global and national levels.

  • CREATE OPERATIONAL LINKS – Establish operational links between social protection systems, disaster preparedness and early action, and integrate them into planning, SOPs, memoranda of understanding, etc., to ensure that systems can respond effectively and quickly to various needs and impacts, particularly on vulnerable and marginalized groups.

  • PUSHING FUNDING ‘OUT OF THE BOX’ – Harness climate finance and link disaster finance to social protection systems and programs, to strengthen and expand systems and ensure that assistance reaches those hardest hit by the climate crisis, including vulnerable and marginalized groups.

  • WORK IN PARTNERSHIP – Support partnerships with civil society and local actors in early action and social protection, to help reach and empower those most in need.

  • PUTTING GENDER AND INCLUSION AT THE CENTER – Ensure that there is a focus on gender equality and social inclusion in efforts to mainstream early action in social protection, including by strengthening gender sensitivity and disability inclusion in social protection systems, and involving gender and inclusion actors in partnership and coordination efforts. Failure to do so risks exacerbating existing inequalities for those who are most vulnerable to climate change.

  • INVEST IN DATA AND EVIDENCE – Invest in data and data systems, including ensuring data is disaggregated.

Joel C. Hicks