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 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 shelter 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.
Loss of biodiversity and ecosystems
Natural Resource Depletion
Increased intensity of storms/hurricanes
1. Competition to access funds restricts visibility of and funding for environmental sustainability
2. Shelter projects can harm the environment or expose affected people to environmental risks
2. Air, water, soil pollution and creation of health risks
3. Harm to flora, fauna, and ecosystems
4. Unsustainable use of natural resources
5. Unsustainable transport and logistics practices
6. Unsustainable waste management practices
7. Lost opportunities to protect or strengthen environmental resilience
The 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. Shelter 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. Shelter projects 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
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.
1a. Assess all shelter projects to ensure environmental impacts and risks are identified and planned for within budget activities and clearly visible to donors
1b. Advocate internally and to donors for environmental funding
1c. Set aside funds for training, incorporating environmental elements
2. Complete environmental assessments of all shelter sites and activities. Demonstrate financial benefits for environmental actions
3. Demonstrate low or zero cost actions that reduce or prevent air, water, soil pollution and creation of health risks
4. Use environmental assessments for careful site selection and capture data to demonstrate where this saves preventative and remediation costs later
5. Procure resources sustainably and actively demonstrate how this can be done at the same or sometimes lower cost
6. Assess existing and alternative transport and logistics practices to demonstrate cost benefits of more sustainable options
7. Demonstrate how waste management practices can save costs and support local livelihoods
8. Demonstrate the longer terms costs of failing to act, such as for donors returning to repeat environmental crises
9. 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.
1a. All humanitarian shelter projects should be assessed to ensure environmental impacts and risks are identified and planned for within budget activities.
Project planners need to ensure environmental sustainability costs and benefits are clearly visible to donors. Examples include the benefits of provision of sustainable construction materials and practices; renewable energy sources for cooking
1b. Advocate for environmental funding. Develop advocacy towards environmental donors to highlight how the humanitarian situation and response actually is a part of their mandate.
1c. Set aside funds for training and consider environmental elements in that training
2. All shelter sites and activities should go through environmental assessments with clearly funded activities that reduce harm and increase sustainability.
Donor environmental policies should be reviewed to demonstrate compliance and go beyond the minimum required. Use your environmental analysis in proposals and reporting. Also facilitate dialogue between humanitarian, development, and environmental donors, since this may lead to joined-up, multi-year funding. In protracted emergencies, a strong environmental analysis may allow you to access development or climate funding that would otherwise not be available for “pure” humanitarian response
3. Many actions can easily be identified and actioned that reduce or prevent air, water, soil pollution and creation of health risks, at low or zero cost – they are often about doing things differently rather than doing additional things
4. Harm to flora, fauna, and ecosystems and subsequent impacts on people’s livelihoods, health and wellbeing, and long term residence in the area can usually be addressed at low cost through funding environmental assessments to inform site selection and shelter and infrastructure design, construction methods, maintenance, and disassembly. Pre-prepared environmental risk assessments of shelter sites and activities should be submitted and summarised to the managing agent to design appropriate mitigating measures. The absence of these, which will also require previously mobilized resources, can contribute heavily to the degradation of the surrounding environment and impact livelihoods, health, and nutrition
5. Unsustainable use of natural resources can easily be assessed through a low-cost environmental assessment. Alternative sustainable sources can usually be identified at either zero/low additional cost or can be demonstrated to provide much greater cost benefits than depleting local unsustainable resources would. Alternatives can include careful management and re-use of existing crisis waste, demolition waste, and alternative renewable or less polluting resources, and supporting local livelihoods in processing waste for construction use or producing construction materials from recycled materials including much plastic waste to develop insulation, plastic roof tiles, even plastic construction blocks
6. Taking time to understand and address unsustainable transport and logistics practices can often save money, or be easily demonstrated to bring significant long-term benefits that help build the resilience of local markets and local communities
7. Unsustainable waste management practices can be addressed in part at low cost through simple separation and sorting, composting, re-use and repurposing and can be developed into viable recycling livelihoods
8. Failure to assess and build resilience to environmental hazards such as landslides, floods, disease spread, can usually easily be demonstrated to cost donors much more in the long term if not addressed now
9.1 Apply to relevant funds for environmental funds for humanitarian activities. Note that the CERF Rapid Response Window criteria specifically call for 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
9.2 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 showing 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 funds allocated to environmental damage prevention, mitigation and environmental enhancement
Prevention of environmental damage
Mitigation of environmental damage
Resources assessment to better 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;
A planning and management team, on-site and remotely to assess funding and resource spending;
Time and internal advocacy to establish or incorporate environmental funding priorities into the response contingency plan