Improving humanitarian response and recovery planning through environmental mainstreaming
Guidance for Response and Recovery Planning in Sudden Onset Emergencies
How to include environmental concerns in response plans for sudden onset crisis response and recovery
Including environmental concerns in response plans advances environmental mainstreaming throughout the humanitarian operations through clear and specific actions. Due to the nature of sudden-onset emergencies, not all relief activities can always be based on detailed pre-disaster information.
Know the planning context within which you operate. Within the UN system, the Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) is created during the planning stage, which is used to manage the response for the next planning cycle. Where an HRP is not developed, similar documents covering humanitarian needs and response planning will be developed by the UN, at times with input from the host government.
For sudden-onset disasters, a Flash Appeal is issued and 30 days afterwards, the HRP needs to be updated.
The Flash Appeal offers a window of opportunity to mainstream environmental considerations in case this has not been possible during an earlier stage.
For sudden-onset crises, a Multi-Cluster/Sector Initial Rapid Assessment (MIRA) is carried out. Its findings underpin the response planning process and any findings on environmental concerns must be included in the response planning.
The HRP contains both cluster plans and country strategies, which offer great opportunities for the integration of environmental considerations.
Clusters that are most directly related to environmental considerations
Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM)
Incorporate the results of environmental assessments to both country and cluster plans. One of the best ways to influence country or disaster-wide planning is to engage with the clusters and contribute to their plans.
Provide key messages on the main environmental issues of concern to the clusters tailored with language accessible to humanitarian actors and using non-technical environmental language.
Review and analyze the (detailed) assessments and situational analysis underlying the planning for the emergency in order to identify current or potential environmental concerns. The REA Module One can be used in this process, while NEAT+ input from the project level can identify environmental issues which emerge during implementation. FRAME is particularly applicable for displaced populations in camp settings. Environmental concerns can be linked to:
the delivery of assistance.
the root or proximate causes of the protracted crisis.
future consequences of the crisis, such as depletion of natural resources near an IDP camp, or
likely changes in the humanitarian context, e.g., increased or decreased conflict.
Whether within or outside the UN system, the response planning should integrate the results of environmental analyses and assessments, and turn them into action. Translating the results into mitigation activities is essential to defining solutions to identified environmental issues.
The humanitarian needs, vulnerabilities and risks which the response plan seeks to address should relate to key environmental concerns, and reflect how environmental issues exacerbate or contribute to the crisis.
Consider existing local capacities to deal with environmental issues.
Include environmental considerations in objectives, outcomes and activities to ensure that environmental issues are addressed throughout the response.
If it is impossible to integrate environmental considerations into the objectives, it is advisable to adapt the outputs and activities in a way that addresses environmental concerns (including indicators to monitor them).
When designing the activities, it is especially important to consider including sub-activities that ensure a mitigation of negative environmental impacts of the response, or support opportunities for sustainable practices.
For site planning considerations both inside and outside the Humanitarian Response Plan process:
Integrate with both regional and local socioeconomic infrastructure and ecosystem processes through:
Land Use and Infrastructure: Planning to identify and organize the preferred land uses through the allocation and zoning of land for specific uses based on regulation of and intensity of use, ensuring environmental aspects are taken into account.
Site Planning: to locate building footprints along with physical infrastructures in such a way as to minimize adverse impacts on the surrounding environment and ecosystems.
Key steps in the project cycle for sound land use planning and physical planning
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.
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.
Response monitoring is about creating evidence for humanitarian actors about what actions should be taken to address shortcomings and fill gaps in in the response, with the aim of improving accountability towards affected populations, local government, donors and the general public.