COP27: Four pillars to support vulnerable populations against climate warming

Caritas International Belgium COP27: Four pillars to support vulnerable populations against climate warming

Often the most vulnerable are hit the hardest by natural disasters, like here in Mozambique after a cyclone - Caritas/Joost Bastmeijer

Often the most vulnerable are hit the hardest by natural disasters, like here in Mozambique after a cyclone - Caritas/Joost Bastmeijer


As the 27th Conference of Parties on climate change (COP27) begins this week in Egypt, Caritas organizations are calling on participating states to ensure climate and social justice by safeguarding human rights and protecting the most vulnerable populations. To support communities impacted by the climate crisis, Caritas organizations propose to build on four pillars.

Thanks in part to the recent reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), we now have a clear understanding of the extent of the climate crisis – both current and potential – and solutions to support. COP27 is an opportunity to demonstrate unity in the face of an existential threat, that we can only overcome by taking concerted action and backing appropriate mechanisms to support the most impacted populations, who are the least responsible for climate disruption.

Echoing the call of the encyclical Laudato Si’ to achieve an integral ecology and to advocate for climate justice, the Caritas Confederation’s position[1] for COP27 is built around the following pillars:


The experience of Caritas organizations has taught them the importance of the knowledge that affected communities have of their territories, in order to adapt their agricultural crops, infrastructure, and practices to climate change. Where possible, they maximize the use of locally available resources to increase yields and improve food security, while contributing to adaptation and mitigation. For example, traditional agroforestry systems in many Amazonian communities are already helping to reduce the felling of new forest areas while capturing CO2 and meeting the food and economic needs of families.

As climate warming continues to make resources scarcer and the carbon footprint more critical, the Caritas network encourages policymakers to integrate indigenous knowledge and agro-ecological practices alongside science and technology. 


Funding for adaptation to the impacts of climate change remains inadequate at the global level, and adaptation processes at the local level have low participation and are rarely funded by large climate funds. Thus, it is essential that adaptation is given greater prominence within Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs)[2]. These efforts should focus on key economic sectors and services, such as coastal and low-lying areas, ocean ecosystems, and Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) within these and other human habitats.


Caritas International Belgium COP27: Four pillars to support vulnerable populations against climate warming
Assistance to typhoon survivors in the Philippines - Caritas Philippines
Caritas International Belgium COP27: Four pillars to support vulnerable populations against climate warming

Humanitarian aid for cyclone victims in Mozambique - CRS/Carolin Brennan

Caritas is also calling on the international community to contribute more to global adaptation funds and invest them at the local level, in order to build climate resilience and reduce the risks of climate and environmental disasters. Caritas calls on rich countries to mobilize at least $100 billion per year, in addition to existing aid commitments, and to share it equally between mitigation and adaptation programs. A new collective post-2025 climate finance target should be sought to restore confidence and accelerate climate action.

These funds should be provided in the form of grants (rather than loans) and focus on increasing the capacity of local institutions involved in climate change adaptation activities, including risk assessment. Improving risk reduction plans in NDCs, National Adaptation Plans (NAPs), and programs should also be a priority in order to support resilience, while avoiding, minimizing, and addressing “loss and damage.” 


Recognizing the issue of “loss and damage” is fundamental for countries susceptible to climate risks. Concrete examples of “loss and damage” illustrate the limits of adaptation in some contexts and the most significant damage caused by climate change. For example, the destruction of infrastructure due to floods, the loss of life due to prolonged droughts, or the disappearance of island states due to rising sea levels. Although difficult to quantify, non-economic damages due to displacement, such as loss of cultural heritage or deterioration of physical and mental health, should also be included in these considerations.

However, the lack of structural funding for “loss and damage” in international climate policies prevents the implementation of responses that support populations affected by climate risks, whether through humanitarian assistance or social protection. Without a reliable and holistic funding mechanism, the most vulnerable countries will be pushed deeper into debt, fragility, and poverty every time they are hit by climate disasters for which they are not responsible.

To fill this climate policy gap, Caritas urges states to support the creation of a “loss and damage” financing mechanism alongside the operationalization of the Warsaw mechanism and the Santiago network. This mechanism should have an economic endowment sufficient to finance the recovery and rehabilitation of climate-related disasters. These funds should be distributed in a democratic and local manner, in the form of grants rather than loans.

Considering the movement of people in relation to climate change, Caritas also calls on states and the international community to ensure that issues of displacement, migration, and planned resettlement are taken into account and mainstreamed into many policy frameworks and actions. 


Small-scale farmers are on the front line of the climate crisis, suffering the effects of erratic weather and lack of policy support. Caritas sees agriculture as a key sector, but one whose adaptation is often overlooked in investment plans and agricultural policies. Concretely, support for the agro-ecological transition is limited in national and international policies related to agriculture. A coordinated policy response at the global level is urgently needed to strengthen adaptation in the agricultural sector and help build more resilient food systems to various climate shocks. 

To this end, Caritas is asking governments and the international community to ensure that agriculture and food play a central role in international climate governance. Specifically, in addition to renewing the mandate of the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture (KJWA), the UNFCCC should strengthen adaptation in the agriculture sector by focusing on approaches – such as the agro-ecological transition – that build sustainable food systems that are rooted in local realities, inclusive, and resilient to climate shocks worldwide.  

Today, despite their increased climate vulnerability, only 1.7% of climate finance supports smallholder agriculture[3]. Within the Green Climate Fund, the goal should be to double the funding for adaptation and dedicate a significant portion to support small-scale farmers. This funding should be directly accessible to local actors, channeled through civil society, and dedicated to strengthening the resilience of food systems, rights and biodiversity protection.


The position includes contributions from Caritas organizations from around the world – Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, North America, and Oceania. It also incorporates messages from the African Climate Dialogues, a process organized by Catholic Church and civil society actors to exchange and identify key policy priorities in the run-up to COP27.


NDCs are climate action plans to reduce emissions and adapt to the effects of climate change. Each state that is committed to the Paris Agreement is required to establish an NDC and update it every five years.

Linked news

Caritas International Belgium Europe must embrace human mobility

Europe must embrace human mobility

On this International Migrants Day, Caritas Europa highlights the indispensable contribution that migrants make to Europe’s society and economy. In a new briefing paper, we…

Read more
All the news