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The Humanitarian Environment Network

Key word: Environment /

In response to a Groupe URD initiative, a number of NGOs that have begun to adopt an environmental approach recently met to formally establish an experience-sharing network to discuss priorities and expectations. The network will be open to any organisations interested in adopting an environmental approach.

 The current situation

For a number of years, there has been increasing awareness among humanitarian actors of the potential negative impacts of their programmes and of crises themselves on the natural environment. These impacts can be the result of the implementation of programmes in crisis-affected countries or of the logistics deployed, both at headquarters and internationally. These can have disastrous consequences for beneficiaries and surrounding communities. This is why, even before environmental considerations have been imposed by donors as part of a quality approach, numerous actors have already made an effort to integrate the environment at an institutional level.

 The network, its mission and how it operates

Created in April 2012, the Humanitarian Environment Networkaims to promote the integration of the environment among member organisations and more widely throughout the humanitarian sector.

To do this, it has given itself three objectives:

  • Encouraging the sharing of experiences via a shared library (guides, lessons learned, etc.), theme-based meetings and the development and publication of summary notes;
  • Conducting studies and developing tools adapted to the needs of the sector which can be adopted by non-specialists;
  • Establishing the legitimacy of the network and doing advocacy work with the management of member organisations and other actors, such as donors, to promote the integration of environmental considerations in humanitarian organisations.

The members of the network are from organisations like: Action contre la faim, Care France, Comité International de la Croix- Rouge, Croix-Rouge française, Groupe URD, Handicap International, Médecins Sans Frontières, Médecins du Monde, Oxfam-Québec, OXFAM UK, Première Urgence - Aide Médicale Internationale, Solidarités International and Triangle Génération Humanitaire.

The network meets three or four times a year for half a day. In addition to the permanent participants, these meetings are attended by anyone from the member organizations involved in the subjects discussed. New organisations are welcome to take part in these meetings and can join the network if they wish.

A review of the level of integration of environmental considerations within member organisations was carried out in late 2012 and early 2013. Generally, this showed that efforts to integrate the environment are in their initial stages and there is not yet enough awareness of the issues at stake at the institutional level.

The network has links with organisations at the international level, and notably a network steered by the Joint UNEP/OCHA Environment Unit which works on the same subject.

For more information, please contact Samantha Brangeon.