Finding the linkages between humanitarian action and the environment -- an urgent action for effective disaster relief and short-term recovery.
This year from August 29 to August 30 was held in Geneva, Switzerland the workshop “Coordinated Assessments for Environment in Humanitarian Action Initiative”. Conducted by the Joint Initiative the workshop was organized as an interdisciplinary forum which brought together experts and professionals from several fields of study (including disaster risk management, environment, and humanitarian action) in order to set out the current progress on Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) tools – with an emphasis on the Rapid Environmental Assessment (REA) and discuss future actions as well.
All participants agreed on the need to both identify and give priority to inter-sectoral linkages between humanitarian action and the environment, as an urgent action for effective relief and short-term recovery. Furthermore, it was stressed that a difference for both people and environment could be brought about by making sure that environmental concerns are taken into account at the earliest possible stage of humanitarian action, and then mainstreamed within every stage of the Humanitarian Programme Cycle.
Unless a manifest willingness to integrate and build upon these inter-sectoral linkages is reinforced and fully accepted, humanitarian actions will continue to be established on the basis of a lack of awareness as regards environmental issues. All environmental challenges within a humanitarian framework could, therefore, be addressed both efficiently and sustainably, through a close collaboration of Environment and Human Action networks and organizations.
Another issue firmly underlined was the importance of the role played by environmental impact assessments (EIA) as tools meant to strengthen sustainable development and enhance community resilience. The Joint UNEP/OCHA Environment Unit is currently working on an analysis meant to help facilitate the integration of environmental issues into humanitarian decision-making and response at the country level.
This workshop was the occasion to showcase how the assessments of the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems (RLE) could be implemented as a key baseline measurement and monitoring tool for ecosystem health, and for the identification of management strategies required to maintain ecosystem functionality. In this context, ecosystem risk assessments identify key threats and mechanisms driving biodiversity loss. , e.g., in terms of ecosystem services degradation, and the diagnosis of ecological variables which provide the most sensitive and direct measures of ecosystem status.
Written by: Verónica Ruiz
Style and Format: Ana María Fernández
Provita Nov 20, 2017