( dpa ) - The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, IFRC, warned Monday that climate change was the "greatest threat" to humanity today.
An increasing number of natural disasters was fundamentally altering the entire humanitarian agenda, it added.
The comments came at a press conference in Geneva as it launched an appeal totalling 752 million Swiss francs (584 million US dollars) to fund its regional and global programmes in 2008 and 2009.
Secretary General of the International Federation, Markku Niskala, said: "In recent years we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of weather-related disasters. But beyond this, climate change is also having a very real and very worrisome impact on water supplies, on food production and even on health crises."
According to IFRC, changing weather patterns and melting glaciers were already threatening precious water resources, whilst changes in temperature and rainfall were expected to seriously damage agriculture in future years.
In addition, higher temperatures were resulting in the appearance of diseases like dengue and malaria in new areas.
"There is no doubt in my mind that climate change is one of the greatest threats facing humanity today," said Niskala. He said response alone was no longer enough, the emphasis needed to be on pre-emptive and preventative actions by humanitarian organizations working within communities.
The IFRC was ideally placed, he said, with tens of millions of volunteers around the globe.
The organization was strengthening its community-based operations by increasing its network of field offices and was also concentrating about 75 per cent of its budget on health care and disaster management areas to help communities better face and overcome threats resulting from climate change.