Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

5 Ways to Be a Better Humanitarian

Popular
5 Ways to Be a Better Humanitarian
An internally displaced woman flees from drought in Dollow, Somalia. Zohra Bensemra / Reuters

By Annemieke Tsike-Sossah

World Humanitarian Day offers an opportunity to take stock of where the world stands on addressing humanitarian issues and highlight lessons for how to improve in the future. Here are five ways we all can commit to driving positive change for the world.


1. Commit to Maintaining a Livable Planet

Rapid environmental changes are threatening people's food sources, water and livelihoods. Climate change is at a crisis level, and we must commit to responding swiftly and effectively.

It is important to stay close to people's pressing, on-the-ground needs. But to maintain a liveble planet, we must also change how our global economy operates.

For example, We Mean Business, a coalition working with the world's most influential companies to take action on climate change, is spearheading a business case for decarbonization and helping the business sector to exemplify leadership. In addition, the European Climate Foundation strives to ensure that we fulfill Paris climate agreement targets and maintain the global temperature below 2°C of pre-industrial levels.

To enact meaningful change to combat the climate crisis, it's important that everyone acts as a climate advocate in their own organization, pushes for change and expresses solidarity with current and future generations who will share the planet.

2. Help the Most Vulnerable

To remove the threats to people's livelihoods and lives, the development sector should invest in long-term, durable solutions. Yet we must remain ready to fund short-term needs — disasters will always strike, and the most vulnerable communities will be worst affected.

For example, organizations such as the Start Fund and Médecins Sans Frontières are diminishing human suffering by responding to crises that could go unnoticed or be overshadowed by other events. But sometimes more support is needed to respond adequately to a humanitarian crisis.

The development sector must rely on a decision-making vehicle that allows humanitarian experts to allocate funding where they see the greatest need and provide core support to emergency organizations directly or through pooled funding mechanisms.

3. Invest in Refugee Livelihoods

Displacement has never before affected so many. Too many people are currently forced to keep moving until they find a safe place to call home.

We can support both refugee and host communities by working to dismantle barriers to job opportunities and invest in new ones, while abiding by the UN's Global Compact for Refugees.

For example, the Tent Alliance and the Business Refugee Action Network, two partnerships for mobilizing the private sector to support the livelihoods of refugees, show how the business sector is engaged and ready to be part of the solution.

Investing in refugee livelihoods boosts local markets and the economy. At the same time, investing in host community livelihoods helps them meet Sustainable Development Goals and hone skills for future generations to nurture peaceful communities.

4. Build Unprecedented Collaborations

One of the biggest opportunities in the humanitarian sector is mobilizing collective action. In bringing together well-positioned actors and thought leaders through efficient funding mechanisms, we can create unlikely alliances and partnerships.

Many organizations are effectively working to tackle climate change or support displaced people, and their best practices should be shared more. For example, the platform What Design Can Do exemplifies how to engage professional communities, such as designers, to apply their professional skills and creative thinking to complex issues, such as climate change.

Moving forward, organizations must embrace the natural inclination to evolve, constantly examine what they can do better, and encourage new collaborations with partners.

5. Develop a Sense of Urgency

We can all develop a sense of urgency by understanding the issues and learning how to engage.

At our foundation's 10-year anniversary conference held in June, the young Amsterdam artist Benjamin Fro gave a spoken word performance, capturing what was on many of our minds. "It might be hard, we might not always know how. But the right time to do right is always right now," he said.

Annemieke Tsike-Sossah is head of the special initiatives portfolio at the IKEA Foundation.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

This image of the Santa Monica Mountains in California shows how a north-facing slope (left) can be covered in white-blooming hoaryleaf ceanothus (Ceanothus crassifolius), while the south-facing slope (right) is much less sparsely covered in a completely different plant. Noah Elhardt / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 2.5

By Mark Mancini

If weather is your mood, climate is your personality. That's an analogy some scientists use to help explain the difference between two words people often get mixed up.

Read More Show Less
Flames from the Lake Fire burn on a hillside near a fire truck and other vehicles on Aug. 12, 2020 in Lake Hughes, California. Mario Tama / Getty Images

An "explosive" wildfire ignited in Los Angeles county Wednesday, growing to 10,000 acres in a little less than three hours.

Read More Show Less
Although heat waves rarely get the attention that hurricanes do, they kill far more people per year in the U.S. and abroad. greenaperture / Getty Images

By Jeff Berardelli

Note: This story was originally published on August 6, 2020

If asked to recall a hurricane, odds are you'd immediately invoke memorable names like Sandy, Katrina or Harvey. You'd probably even remember something specific about the impact of the storm. But if asked to recall a heat wave, a vague recollection that it was hot during your last summer vacation may be about as specific as you can get.

Read More Show Less

A film by Felix Nuhr.

Thailand has a total population of 5,000 elephants. But of that number, 3,000 live in captivity, carrying tourists on their backs and offering photo opportunities made for social media.

Read More Show Less
Scientists have found a way to use bricks as batteries, meaning that buildings may one day be used to store and generate power. Public Domain Pictures

One of the challenges of renewable power is how to store clean energy from the sun, wind and geothermal sources. Now, a new study and advances in nanotechnology have found a method that may relieve the burden on supercapacitor storage. This method turns bricks into batteries, meaning that buildings themselves may one day be used to store and generate power, Science Times reported.

Bricks are a preferred building tool for their durability and resilience against heat and frost since they do not shrink, expand or warp in a way that compromises infrastructure. They are also reusable. What was unknown, until now, is that they can be altered to store electrical energy, according to a new study published in Nature Communications.

The scientists behind the study figured out a way to modify bricks in order to use their iconic red hue, which comes from hematite, an iron oxide, to store enough electricity to power devices, Gizmodo reported. To do that, the researchers filled bricks' pores with a nanofiber made from a conducting plastic that can store an electrical charge.

The first bricks they modified stored enough of a charge to power a small light. They can be charged in just 13 minutes and hold 10,000 charges, but the challenge is getting them to hold a much larger charge, making the technology a distant proposition.

If the capacity can be increased, researchers believe bricks can be used as a cheap alternative to lithium ion batteries — the same batteries used in laptops, phones and tablets.

The first power bricks are only one percent of a lithium-ion battery, but storage capacity can be increased tenfold by adding materials like metal oxides, Julio D'Arcy, a researcher at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, who contributed to the paper and was part of the research team, told The Guardian. But only when the storage capacity is scaled up would bricks become commercially viable.

"A solar cell on the roof of your house has to store electricity somewhere and typically we use batteries," D'Arcy told The Guardian. "What we have done is provide a new 'food-for-thought' option, but we're not there yet.

"If [that can happen], this technology is way cheaper than lithium ion batteries," D'Arcy added. "It would be a different world and you would not hear the words 'lithium ion battery' again."

Aerial view of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Gamboa, Panama, where a new soil study was held, on Sept. 11, 2019. LUIS ACOSTA / AFP via Getty Images

One of the concerns about a warming planet is the feedback loop that will emerge. That is, as the planet warms, it will melt permafrost, which will release trapped carbon and lead to more warming and more melting. Now, a new study has shown that the feedback loop won't only happen in the nether regions of the north and south, but in the tropics as well, according to a new paper in Nature.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods speaks during a press conference after a shooting at Forest High School on April 20, 2018 in Ocala, Florida. Gerardo Mora / Getty Images

By Jessica Corbett

A sheriff in Florida is under fire for deciding Tuesday to ban his deputies from wearing face masks while on the job—ignoring the advice of public health experts about the safety measures that everyone should take during the coronavirus pandemic as well as the rising Covid-19 death toll in his county and state.

Read More Show Less