Analyzing the environmental issues and concerns in a societal context
Guidance for Environmental Situation Analysis
How to analyze and understand the environmental context of a region
Produce or disseminate existing environmental reports or fact sheets1, presenting information in a way that is understandable by humanitarians and disaster managers. Consider the following:
Overall environmental conditions and key drivers of environmental change.
Links between livelihoods and specific ecosystem functions, e.g. how is food produced and housing constructed, how finite are nearby resources, how do social power relations influence the use of livelihoods by different gender groups?
Main disaster risks to ecosystem functions, with impact on health and livelihoods, for example industrial pollution in agriculture, deforestation, climate change. Also consider how these risks are affected by an emergency.
Applicable environmental laws, policies and regulations.
Institutional structures and socioeconomic context, including cultural traditions (e.g. see here).
Key environmental actors.
Likely negative major impacts of the main humanitarian sectors on the environment, such as heavy natural resource use from over extraction to meet high demand (for example for timber or sand).
Potential environmental impacts of alternative income generating activities of different social groups as well as unmet basic needs of disaster-affected populations.
Actively seek to exchange knowledge and information.
Engage local environmental and conservation NGOs and communities in emergency preparedness work, for example those working on water resources, sustainable forestry and solid waste management.
Note that such environmental actors might not always be present, making community consultant an even more important resource.
Form environment-humanitarian partnerships before an emergency occurs.
Engage the scientific community and set up data-sharing mechanisms.
Make use of existing environmental databases and networks:
Climate data, the location of protected areas, vegetation/land cover, measurements of pollution (including information on areas hosting hazardous and toxic materials), topographical and hydrological data, biodiversity levels, availability of natural resources, and natural hazard data.
Data can come from commercial and open-source satellite images and maps2, project reports from national and international environmental agencies, local knowledge on natural resources, environmental assessments, national/international environmental databases, wildlife and fisheries management plans, development plans, and land tenure records.
Remember to translate this information into a humanitarian context to ensure that it is being used.
See the resources and examples for available data sources.
Risk analysis provides a common understanding and prioritization of risks, and should include existing environmental conditions and threats
Environmental Preparedness Planning
Addressing environment as part of preparedness planning lays the foundation for its integration into humanitarian action.
Communicating risks effectively to populations and communities is essential for people to be able to be better prepared and to reduce the damaging impacts of hazards.
Institutional and Legal System
Policies supported by institutional frameworks and legal arrangements make up the disaster risk management framework. In order to systematically integrate environmental concerns in humanitarian action, one must consider the institutional arrangements governing disaster preparedness, response, recovery and emergency funding.
An understanding of evolving risks is fundamental to a timely and effective response. The analysis of disaster risks informs the planning of a response, while monitoring ensures that the process is responsive to changing contexts