Najam Briefs UN Humanitarian Leaders on ‘Age of Adaptation’

Prof. Adil Najam speaking to the IASC at the United Nations.

Dr. Adil Najam, Dean Emeritus and Professor at the Pardee School of Global Studies and President of WWF-International, was invited by the United Nation’s Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) on Humanitarian Coordination to deliver a keynote briefing to them on climate change and humanitarian action on September 28, 2023. Chaired by  Joyce Msuya, UN Assistant Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, the meeting was attended by leaders of humanitarian agencies in the United Nations system as well as from civil society.

Najam, who had earlier also spoken on this theme at the Vienna Humanitarian Congress in June 2023, highlighted that we are already in what he describes as the ‘Age of Adaptation’ where climate change can no longer be viewed only as a future issue. He emphasized that climate impacts are “not just real and present but constitute a humanitarian crisis in themselves.”

Najam suggested that “climate change is too important an issue to leave only to climate people” and invited leaders of the humanitarian sector to place climate at the center of their own planning and strategies for humanitarian action. He argued that the role of the humanitarian sector should not only be to ‘support’ climate action, but to be at the center of such action. The talk was followed by an engaging discussion section with humanitarian sector leaders asked Najam to elaborate on a number of his points and, particularly, to help devise actionable ideas for the humanitarian sector.

Created by United Nations General Assembly in 1991, the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) is the longest-standing and highest-level humanitarian coordination forum of the United Nations system. It brings together the executive heads of 18 organizations and consortia to formulate policy, set strategic priorities and mobilize resources in response to humanitarian crises. With members from within and outside the United Nations, the IASC strengthens collective humanitarian action through the implementation of a coherent, unified response. Towards that end, the IASC advocates for common humanitarian principles and makes strategic, policy and operational decisions with a direct bearing on humanitarian operations on the ground.

Adil Najam is Dean Emeritus and Professor at the Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University and since July 2023 also serves as the President of WWF-International. He served as the Inaugural Dean of the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies from 2014-2022. He is also a former Vice-Chancellor of the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS). His research focuses on issues of global public policy, especially those related to global climate change, South Asia, Muslim countries, environment and development, and human development. Read more about Najam on his Pardee School faculty profile.