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How international volunteers are responding to climate change

2 September 2019 at 7:30 am
Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time. It will take more than scientists, meteorologists and activists to address it. Complex, global problems require everyone's attention.

Contributor | 2 September 2019 at 7:30 am


How international volunteers are responding to climate change
2 September 2019 at 7:30 am

Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time. It will take more than scientists, meteorologists and activists to address it. Complex, global problems require everyone’s attention.

The impacts of climate change are often felt first and hardest by those living in poverty, people living with a disability, women, children and other groups marginalised from local and international support structures. 

The Australian Volunteers Program receives hundreds of requests for Australian volunteers from organisations right across the Indo-Pacific region. In recent years, there has been a significant increase in requests for Australians who can support work that addresses the impacts of climate change on vulnerable communities. 

Organisations around the world are working to reduce the scale of climate change and are teaching communities how to adapt to new climatic conditions. Australian volunteers are supporting many of these projects, and in ways you might not expect. Tackling climate change requires an incredibly broad range of skills and experience.

The message is clear: we need everyone to pitch in. Australian volunteers with all sorts of skills are needed to help address the impact of climate change in our region.

Here are just a few examples of how Australian volunteers are responding to climate change: 

  • Climate change is fueling an increase in the frequency and intensity of natural disasters. Disaster risk and preparedness mentors are working with local communities to strengthen emergency management activities, and assist in climate change adaptation.
  • Growing populations, diminishing resources and a changing climate pose profound challenges to our global food and agriculture system. Communication specialists are working with local farmers to raise community awareness about the impacts of climate change on food production.  
  • A growing economy and investment in infrastructure is great for development, but it comes at a cost. Policymakers assist national governments to research effective ways to transition to low-carbon economies. 
  • The United Nations predicts that by 2050 more than 68 per cent of the global population will live in urban areas. Urban planners work with local governments to sustainably manage urban-migration and design new settlements that mitigate the risk of flooding and landslides. 
  • Financial independence is critical for recovery after natural disasters. Marginalised community members are often excluded from traditional education and employment pathways. Business development mentors support women and people with disabilities to develop small businesses. 
  • The World Bank predicts that without urgent action, global waste will grow 70 per cent by 2050. Procurement and finance professionals are mentoring private sector organisations on sustainable business practices. Businesses across our region are transitioning to paperless systems, investing in climate-smart initiatives and reducing reliance on single-use plastics. 
  • Rising sea levels and conflict over resources threaten people’s homes and livelihoods. Lawyers are advocating for laws that protect Indigenous peoples’ land rights. Access to land is crucial for economic development, protecting cultural identity and personal security. 
  • Climate change often disproportionately affects vulnerable groups, including people with disability. Occupational therapists are supporting hospitals and schools in the Pacific to design disability-inclusive evacuation plans to prepare communities for storms, floods and bushfires. 

Efforts to address climate change need to occur at the individual, local, national and global level. International volunteers have the unique ability to work at every level, often simultaneously.

Visit and learn how you can pitch in to support the global effort to address climate change. New volunteer assignments are advertised every week.

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