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Climate in context - Mercy Corps' approach to climate change programing

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The increasing severity and frequency of climate change impacts calls for an immediate need to alter the way we conceptualize and respond to development issues. Challenges such as war, famine and financial recessions tend to be relatively short, over in less than ten years. Election cycles and national plans are usually over in less than five. By contrast, climate change and its impacts are set to progressively and noticeably worsen over the next twenty years and accelerate catastrophically into the final half of this century and beyond unless mitigation measures are put in place over the near term. We must pro-actively consider climate change problems in the long-term and find sustainable solutions that will help vulnerable populations adapt to unavoidable impact while advocating for global changes needed to slow climate change's pace.

Mercy Corps has committed to responding effectively to both the longevity and severity of the challenges perpetuated by climate change. As an agency that operates in over 35 countries and serves nearly 16.4 million people, we recognize our opportunity to educate and empower a significant global population capable of both adapting and mitigating the forces of climate change. Hence, we assert that sustainability and environmental programming is integral to fulfilling our mission of alleviating suffering, poverty and oppression, by building secure, productive and just communities.

The aim of this paper is to provide an informative context to climate change as it relates to the relief and development field, and Mercy Corps' work in this regard. Ultimately, it intends to show through demonstrated action and advocacy, an existing opportunity to create climate change programming that will help mitigate and adapt to the inevitable challenges caused by a warming planet.

This paper has three sections:

1. A brief introduction to the environmental and economic issues and impact of climate change;

2. An overview of where and how climate change will affect development issues;

3. A look at the current responses and future potential for Mercy Corps' climate change programming.