Environment and Humanitarian Action

Introduction

Environment and Emergencies

The integration of environment into humanitarian programmes and operations is critical to ensure the effectiveness, sustainability and accountability of humanitarian operations. While the immediate priorities for humanitarian actors include saving lives, reducing human suffering, and jump-starting recovery, there is an increased understanding and awareness amongst the humanitarian community on the need to localize and contextualize humanitarian action for long-term resilience. In the spirit of the New Way Of Working and the Agenda for Humanity, the consideration and integration of the local environmental, geographical and overall site conditions are essential elements in achieving these goals.

Addressing environmental issues during the early phases of an emergency has multiple benefits and provides the potential to do the following:

- Address the underlying environmental issues that may have contributed to the crises or disaster in the first place as well as reduce the risk of reoccurrence

- Improve affected communities’ health and safety through reduction of air and water pollution (e.g. management of hazardous materials and solid wastes)

- Protect livelihoods by safeguarding the essential natural resources of those communities

- Protect people and the environment from future hazards through mitigation activities and preventative measures

Furthermore, proactively addressing environmental issues can slow or reverse trends that lead to deforestation, desertification, soil erosion and pollution, which significantly impact community resilience, biodiversity, food security and economic development.

For more information, please visit the Environment and Humanitarian Action (EHA) page.

Overview

EHA training EHA Network
The 1.5 hour Environment in Humanitarian Action eLearning module provides humanitarian actors with information on how to effectively integrate environmental issues into humanitarian response and early recovery strategies. The course is available through the EEC Learning Centre. The Environment and Humanitarian Action (EHA) Network is an informal network aiming to avoid, minimize, or mitigate environmental impacts of humanitarian action and to promote environmentally responsible humanitarian programming through collaboration and cooperation. It holds bi-monthly teleconferences and one annual face-to-face meeting. If you are interested to learn more or to join the network, please contact the UNEP/OCHA Environment Joint Unit.

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