Virtual Environmental and Humanitarian Adviser Tool – (VEHA Tool) is a tool
to easily integrate environmental considerations in humanitarian response. Field Implementation guidances are useful for the design and execution of humanitarian activities in the field.
Today’s crises are usually so acute and overwhelming that the majority of humanitarian resources are spent on responding to immediate life-saving needs, with insufficient resources focused on prevention, resilience, and recovery that can support communities in the longer term.
Conditions after a disaster or emergency displacement do not usually allow for a full environmental impact assessment and immediate mitigation of negative environmental outcomes. Fundraising and mobilization of resources fall at the center of these decisions and are likely to impact other health decisions. The availability of funding, regardless of the source, will directly impact decisions regarding which materials will be used, what kind of items can be distributed, and what general services will be provided to affected populations. Moreover, consideration given to more environmentally-friendly materials and technical options is likely to impact a response’s final budget.
Experience shows that environmental projects are unlikely to receive dedicated funding from humanitarian aid budgets at this point in time. It, therefore, becomes all the more important that within sector responses, environmental impacts and vulnerabilities are clearly appraised, understood, and monitored by the humanitarian actors. This will help to ensure continued access to financing that is increasingly tied to environmental and social standards and accountability policies (e.g. Green Climate Fund, bilateral donors)
Environmental considerations related to resource and funding mobilization should be mindful of the needs and services of vulnerable groups, namely women, children, and disabled people.
Climate change and subsequent harm to water, land, locally available resources, and clean air impact women disproportionately, and as a result, they are likely to run out of resources and work less efficiently in adverse circumstances. By identifying the daily activities of the most vulnerable groups likely to suffer from environmental changes in the area of intervention, should enable the implementing actor to design-focused strategies to prevent and mitigate these impacts.
Identify, evaluate and prioritise sources of eligible goods, services, and works to ensure quick delivery, best value for money, alignment with intervention needs, and market availability. Product specifications should consider the different and specific local needs of men, women, and persons of diverse sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and sex characteristics.
Loss of biodiversity and ecosystems
1. Competition to access funds restricts visibility of and funding for environmental sustainability
2. Unused, unwanted, or misused items can harm the environment or expose affected people to environmental risks
3. Air, water, soil pollution and creation of health risks
4. Harm to flora, fauna, and ecosystems
5. Unsustainable use of natural resources
6. Unsustainable transport and logistics practices
7. Unsustainable waste management practices
8. Lost opportunities to protect or strengthen environmental resilience
Environment is not a core humanitarian sector and is often thought of as someone else’s responsibility. Donors are not yet fully focused on funding environmental sustainability. Health projects can therefore easily cause environmental harm or expose affected people to environmental risks if their assessment is not funded. If environmental sustainability is not adequately funded, the consequences are likely to be:
1. Competition to access funds restricts visibility of and funding for environmental sustainability. Priority is usually given to immediate life-saving activities, without the capacity to build resilience to future crises, including environmental factors
2. Unused, unwanted, misused, donated health, shelter, food, NFI, etc items can easily cause environmental harm or expose affected people to environmental risks if their assessment and sustainable actions are not funded
3. Ongoing or increased air, water, soil pollution and creation of health risks
4. Harm to flora, fauna, and ecosystems, harming people’s livelihoods, health, and wellbeing and potentially ultimately reducing their ability to remain living in the area
5. Unsustainable management of natural resources
6. Unsustainable transport and logistics practices
7. Unsustainable waste management practices
8. Lost opportunities to protect or strengthen the environment and support communities in becoming more resilient to environmental risks
Review in-kind donation relevance, acceptance, sustainability, expiry dates, quality, waste creation, transport emissions – do not accept in-kind donations if they have negative environmental impacts and are less sustainable than cash donations.
Assess projects to ensure environmental impacts and risks are identified and planned for within budget activities and clearly visible to donors
Advocate internally and to donors for environmental funding
Set aside funds for training, incorporating environmental elements
Complete environmental assessments of all shelter sites and activities. Demonstrate financial benefits for environmental actions
Demonstrate low or zero cost actions that reduce or prevent air, water, soil pollution and creation of health risks
Use environmental assessments for careful site selection and capture data to demonstrate where this saves preventative and remediation costs later
Procure resources sustainably and actively demonstrate how this can be done at the same or sometimes lower cost
Assess existing and alternative transport and logistics practices to demonstrate cost benefits of more sustainable options
Demonstrate how waste management practices can save costs and support local livelihoods
Demonstrate the longer terms costs of failing to act, such as for donors returning to repeat environmental crises
Apply for funding to relevant environmental funds
Environmental sustainability requires funding across all humanitarian activities to ensure the environment is not degraded and that people are not exposed to increased environmental hazards. Successful resource mobilization relies on a strong understanding of the global humanitarian financing landscape together with keen local knowledge based on the mapping of donor presence and priorities. Preparation to obtain environmental sustainability funding should commence in the earliest data gathering and information management stages of a shelter project.
In-kind donations should never be accepted without proper review of relevance, likely local acceptance, sustainably sourced, expiry dates, quality, waste creation, transport emissions, storage requirements, perishability, versus donation of cash equivalent and local sustainably sourcing.
Advocate for environmental funding. Develop advocacy towards environmental donors to highlight how the humanitarian situation and response actually is a part of their mandate.
Apply to relevant funds for environmental funds for humanitarian activities. Note that the CERF Rapid Response Window criteria specifically call for the environment to be considered. Other donors are increasingly asking for environmental considerations to be demonstrated. These are also elements that affect project sustainability, another key criterion in donor funding decisions
Use the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) corporate approach for resource mobilization and funding mechanisms (See resources). While humanitarian organizations normally lack organizational readiness to appeal for funding from the private sector or drown in the overly competitive fundraising environment in and around humanitarian donors, organizations can behave like market catalysts, to develop and de-risk investable opportunities that bring investment capital to the fragility-crisis cycle. Moreover, humanitarians and development organizations play a crucial role in sharing their understanding of the needs and environment of impacted communities. These organization are also critical in monitoring and evaluating the human impact of these investable opportunities, thus translating the enhancement to social, environmental, and livelihoods conditions of people in crises into market capital returns.
A key concern overlooking environmental threats and risks to sector responses lies in the management agency’s ability to portray the activities and services provided as part of the response as sustainable investment strategies that enable investors, beyond the traditional UN umbrella and international organizations, to consider social and environmental factors alongside financial returns.
Resource mobilization and fundraising do not have to be restricted to the financial assets determined in your RM strategy. The case study below shows an example of how in-kind contributions after the Indian Ocean earthquake of 26 December 2004 fulfilled the goal of Build Back Better.
“The earthquake reached a 9.3 on the Richter scale and the ensuing Tsunami affected about a dozen nations and resulted in hundreds of thousands of casualties, jeopardized livelihoods of the survivors, and destroyed their source of income, fishing. After an intensive process of identifying recipients and with international donations, FAO delivered a variety of fishing equipment to help restructure damaged fishing vessels and enable fishermen to go back out to sea, return to their craft and ensure food security in many communities.
By providing in-kind contributions, FAO was able to enable the local population to conduct their own recovery activities and even reach productivity levels superior to those prior to the tsunami.”
# of in-kind donations assessed for environmental impact prior to acceptance or rejection
Balanced procurement profile to flatten peak and through impacts on markets and environmental resources and on waste creation.
% of funds allocated to environmental damage prevention, mitigation, and environmental enhancement
Prevention of environmental damage
Mitigation of environmental damage
Time to assess the environmental impact of offered in-kind donations.
Resources assessment of what environmental sustainability activities are required and their cost and cost benefits.
Time to develop knowledge of the fundraising environment from public and private donors and potential for environmental funding;
An environmental impact assessment to outline the environmental impacts and opportunities, concerning prevention, mitigation, and enhancement of the surrounding environment;
Time and internal advocacy to establish or incorporate environmental funding priorities into the response contingency plan