Addressing environmental issues in emergency recovery
Guidance for Recovery in Sudden Onset Emergencies
How to address environmental concerns in recovery from sudden onset emergencies
Assess, minimize and address negative environmental impacts throughout disaster recovery and reconstruction in order to create opportunities for communities to build back safer and in a more sustainable way.
See here for a sector-specific overview of key environmental considerations.
To increase sustainability and support longer-term development, recovery and reconstruction efforts should aim to:
Promote the sustainable use of renewable natural resources as building materials.
Reintroduce those traditional methods of reconstruction that are more environmentally sustainable than modern approaches.
Manage waste responsibly and support the development of disaster waste management systems to prevent future pollution and environmental issues associated with waste.
Conserve water and use sustainable resources only.
Develop governance capacity to sustainably manage natural resources.
Utilize technological innovations that are applicable to the local context.
The high demand on natural resources can quickly become overwhelming as reconstruction efforts are underway.
During early recovery, predict which natural resources are likely to be in high demand and prepare to meet those needs in the most sustainable manner possible to ensure that these resources will be available for future demands as well.
Involve natural resource management experts and local environmental actors to ensure a sustainable use of natural resources.
The sustainable management of natural resources relies on the inclusion of a wide range of stakeholders to be effective. Environmental, humanitarian, development, national and local actors as well as communities must come together to ensure good stewardship of natural resources and improve affected people’s quality of life.
Prepare exit strategies for unavoidable unsustainable practices and transition as soon as possible to avoid creating new sources of vulnerability in the short and long term.
Engage with ecosystem restoration where possible (see here for specific guidance).
Ecosystem-based approaches to reduce disaster risk are especially relevant in the context of disaster recovery (see IUCN’s resources for detailed guidance).
Restoring the functions of ecosystems helps to reduce disaster risk, ensure food security and energy efficiency, restore livelihoods, and provide clean air as well as water.
The prioritization of ecosystems to restore can be based on the expected benefits in terms of livelihood restoration, provision of natural resources, and the reduction of hazard risk, e.g. flood or landslide risk reduction.
WWF’s Green Recovery and Reconstruction Tool (GRRT) is an excellent toolkit with the practical information and strategies necessary to improve project outcomes for the affected population, build back communities that are more environmentally sustainable, and reduce risk and vulnerability to future disasters.
A situation analysis following a crisis typically looks at key crisis drivers, affected areas, the number and type of affected people, the ways in which people are affected, the most urgent needs and available capacities.
Assessing the environmental consequences of an emergency and prioritizing the response actions based on the needs, forms the foundation of a coherent, efficient and sustainable humanitarian response.
Response and Recovery Planning
Environment is included into response plans in order to improve programme quality and accountability to disaster-affected people.
Environmental mainstreaming is dependent on successful resource mobilization, where environmental concerns must be integrated in funding proposals in order to secure funding.
Successful integration of environment into the implementation of humanitarian response requires that environment be included into preparedness and planning phases, but also effective coordination with national actors.