COP 21

PARIS, 10 December 2015 (IRIN) – As weather becomes more extreme and erratic, the scramble for a bigger and better set of tools to cope with the fallout is on.

“Science is quite clear that we’re experiencing more frequent extremes. While we’re sure about some of the impacts and extremes, we’re also getting more surprises,” Maarten van Aalst, director of the Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre told IRIN on the sidelines of COP21. “And as the Earth keeps warming, there will be more of these surprises.”

While it’s still impossible to predict exactly what is around the corner, the one constant is uncertainty itself. For vulnerable people and farmers, this can be deadly. “One of the most valuable assets for farmers is [to know] what to plant and when to plant, and this is being taken away,” said Van Aalst.

But for both vulnerable rural and swelling urban populations who are buffeted by increasing floods, droughts and other extreme weather events – and for the humanitarian sector trying to help out – there is a growing array of proactive measures that can help save lives, crops and homes.

At the forefront of this push is the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, which has piloted a new mechanism – Forecast Based Financing – that unlocks funds for humanitarian response before a disaster happens.