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Humanitarian crises and the response to them can both have a very negative impact on the environment. This environmental damage reduces the chances that crises will be resolved and that reconstruction can take place. It is therefore essential that the environment should be taken into account in a humanitarian response to protect the well-being and means of subsistence of the affected population.

The multiple links between the environment and crises

In times of crisis and post-crisis, there is short-term management of resources, the production of waste is not controlled and the environment can be put under strain, over-reaching its resilience capacity and leaving it degraded in the long term. This has a major effect on crisis management : as the environment provides the population with livelihoods and offers protection against potential crises (conflicts, natural disasters), its degradation compromises crisis resolution and reconstruction. In contrast, taking the environment into account reinforces the resilience of affected people and leads to better quality of programmes and greater coherence with the humanitarian mandate. In addition, it is a way of anticipating the future demands of the international community as a whole.

Why is the environment not taken into account more and what problems does this cause ? What are the advantages and opportunities of taking it into account ? How can operational organizations and donors integrate this approach into their programmes ? Concrete answers are needed to these questions.

Sub-topics studies and actions carried out

Groupe URD has been engaged for numerous years in promoting the integration of the environment in the humanitarian sector, via numerous activities with a variety of actors. It conducts research and evaluations, develops tools, technical notes and training modules, and organizes workshops and events on the subject to raise awareness among actors and share its expertise.

  • Reduction of the environmental impact of humanitarian aid : analysis of the consequences of aid and development of operational tools.
  • Study of links between the environment and crisis management : the environment as a factor of disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation, conflict resolution and resilience building.
  • A methodology for taking the environment into account in humanitarian action : environmental context assessments, environmental impact assessments and environmental indicators.
  • Training course : “Integrating environmental issues into humanitarian action” : running of training sessions in Europe and crisis-affected countries, and the development of a Training Toolkit to help the dissemination of these training sessions and help actors to appropriate this approach.

Groupe URD also strives to be a model of environmental excellence itself. Its headquarters in the south of France (Drôme provençale) have been designed to reduce energy needs and waste production. Since 2012, it also conducts an assessment of its greenhouse gas emissions.

For more information, contact Samantha Brangeon.

Groupe URD’s projects related to this theme since 2014 :

Articles archivés :

En savoir plus

L’impact environnemental des migrations forcées, synthèse des résultats, en anglais, août 2017
Factsheet "Ecological cookers", The Environnement Humanitaire Network, June 2017
Factsheet "Using solar power in humanitarian action", The Environnement Humanitaire Network, January 2016
Pour une cartographie locale des « systèmes à risques » dans le cadre du changement climatique, François Grünewald, Les Grands Dossiers de Diplomatie n° 30, décembre 2015-janvier 2016
Aggravation des risques et des enjeux humanitaires dus au climat - Gestion de crise et anticipation, François Grünewald, Les Grands Dossiers de Diplomatie n° 30, décembre 2015-janvier 2016
Factsheet "Waste produced by aid organisations", The Environnement Humanitaire Network, March 2015
Fiche technique "Les déchets des acteurs de l’aide", Réseau Environnement Humanitaire, mars 2015
De l’intérêt croissant des bailleurs humanitaires pour l’environnement, Blanche Renaudin, revue Humanitaire n°38, juillet 2014
Factsheet "Sustainable procurement" , The Environnement Humanitaire Network, March 2014
Factsheet "Environmental impact assessments", The Environnement Humanitaire Network, January 2014
Factsheet "Waste management" , The Environnement Humanitaire Network, October 2013
Factsheet "Greenhouse gas assessment" , The Environnement Humanitaire Network, July 2013
Humanitarian Aid on the move # 12, special issue : Environment
Fiche thématique "Environnement et moyens d’existence", projet REPI, avril 2013, en français
Etude d’impact environnemental, juin 2010, en anglais
« L’après-tsunami : entre émotions collectives et dures réalités de la reconstruction », François Grünewald, Diplomatie, janvier-février 2006, n° 18, pp. 70-72.