About 250 representatives from Red Cross and Red Crescent societies from all around the world on Sunday planted up to 1,000 mangroves on behalf of the participants of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali.
"The point of this event is to bring the discussion out of the conference rooms and into the communities that are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change," said Madeleen Helmer, the head of the Red Cross and Red Cresent Climate Center. "As the world's largest humanitarian organization we are uniquely suited to mobilize communities on the critical issue of adaptation."
Tree planting is an example of the meaningful steps that communities need to take to reduce the impacts of natural disasters, Ms Helmer said. "Mangroves act as a buffer against wind and waves, saving lives in extreme cases, but also protecting homes and livelihoods."
The trees were planted along an exposed beach near the village of Tanjung Benoa, on the west coast of Bali's Nusa Dua peninsula. Red Cross volunteers have already planted 2,000 of the planned 10,000 mangroves along the village coastline in preparation for the event.
According to Simon Missiri, the deputy head of the International Federation's delegation in Bali, steps such as planting mangroves have a major role to play in helping communities adapt to the climate related changes that are already taking place. However, he expressed concern that the need to respond to the current ramifications of climate change is often missing in global discussions on the issue.
"Unfortunately, discussions about climate change are too focused on reducing future impacts, through cuts to carbon emissions," he said. "This is, of course, vitally important. But people are already suffering because of climate change. Their needs have to be central to everything that is happening here at this conference."
Even under a best-case scenario, the greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere will take decades to dissipate, and during this time will continue to lead to an increase in the frequency and intensity of natural disasters.
The International Federation is calling on governments gathered in Bali that adaptation to climate change is on equal footing with mitigation.
The Bali climate change conference, which is being held on the island of Bali since Monday, went into a recess on Sunday.