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Guidance Note – Environment and the Protection sector, RMRP 2021

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Manual and Guideline
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This guidance note has been developed for the RMRP 2021. Guidance is limited to the context of the region and this emergency. The note is not intended to cover all protection-related interventions or all human mobility emergencies anywhere in the world. Where protection interventions overlap with those of other sectors, guidance for those sectors should also be reviewed.

Environmental factors can be causes or drivers of humanitarian needs for people on the move and host communities. The environment can be affected by the protection sector response to those needs. Those impacts can be mitigated, and the protection sector response can also be an entry point for low-cost and simple ways to improve environmental management. It is important to consider four ways in which environment relates to the sector:

  • How environmental situations affect humanitarian needs related to protection and vulnerability to protection risks;

  • How the activities of the protection sector can generate environmental impacts if not carefully designed;

  • Environment and environmental management may offer opportunities for protection actors to achieve their goals;

  • How the protection sector can generate environmental benefits and enhancements through activities that the sector would generally develop anyway, and how these benefits can also contribute to sustainable development and protection.

The Do No Harm principle includes the avoidance of current or future situations which could put populations at risk. The unintended consequences of programming without considering the environmental impacts of the humanitarian response or of the mass movement of people can include increased risks and environmental impacts for which refugees and migrants are blamed, contributing to xenophobia and possible violence. Conversely, an emergency is an opportunity to address underlying environmental issues and use environmental mainstreaming for positive change rather than just damage mitigation. Environmental mainstreaming relates to doing no harm, reducing risk and considering possible conflict flashpoints. As such, environmental mainstreaming across other humanitarian sectors is a means to achieve protection goals and facilitate a comprehensive approach to humanitarian needs and enjoying rights.

Given the synergy between protection and integration sectors related to transition to durable solutions, protection agencies may wish to familiarise themselves with the integration sector guidance note, circulated through integration sector platforms. Where the protection response involves material aid (kits), the shelter and NFI guidance note provides more information on NFIs. Interventions aimed at fomenting community cohesion and integration may also be considered as protection interventions, although these are addressed in the integration sector guidance note.