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Environment and Humanitarian Action

Environment and Emergencies

The integration of environment into humanitarian programmes and operations is critical to ensure 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 increasing 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 to achieve this.

Addressing environmental issues during the early phases 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 reducing 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 natural resources upon which those livelihoods depend

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

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

For more information, please visit Environmental Emergencies page on website.

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 UN Environment/OCHA Joint Unit.

This page is maintained by the UN Environment/OCHA Joint Unit (JEU)

Key Events


UN Environment/OCHA Joint Unit (JEU), Emergency Services Branch, OCHA Geneva,