“Humanitarian and environmental action can and must work hand in hand. The environment is fundamentally also about people. Put the two together and there is incredible scope for positive change”

Erik Solheim, UN Environment Executive Director

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The 2017 Environment and Emergencies Forum (EEF) brought together over 160 participants, from 52 different countries, representing more than 100 organizations to discuss innovations in environmental emergency preparedness and response, and efforts to integrate environment in humanitarian action

Organized jointly by UN Environment and OCHA at the UN Office in Nairobi, Kenya, the Forum was described as a multidimensional platform, striving to encapsulate the various links between the environment and emergencies. From 26 to 28 September, participants connected, learned, shared and acted to minimize the man-made and livelihood impacts of disasters and conflicts. The EEF inspired all with this year’s theme “from crisis to opportunity: building resilience by managing environmental risk in emergencies”.

Through the various plenary panels and breakout sessions, participants had an opportunity to contribute to discussions on three key topics: (a) readiness for environmental emergency response; (b) integrating environment in humanitarian response; and (c) environment in conflict settings. The panels and breakout sessions were facilitated by 16 different UN and non-UN partners, offering diverse perspectives and opening up the space for an interesting exchange of ideas. The complete EEF agenda can be found here.

 “I was not expecting such high interest and active participation from all participants who were engaged and willing to contribute to the strengthening of the various topics dealt with during the event”. 2017 EEF participant

In addition to plenary sessions and breakout group discussions, EEF participants had the opportunity to share their experiences and showcase their organization’s work on two other platforms – the Exhibition Space and the Ignite Stage. The exhibition space received posters and banners from numerous organizations highlighting their respective initiatives, while the Ignite Stage featured nine five-minute PechaKucha or Ted-style talks. The Ignite Stage presentations covered a range of topics, from environment and conflict in Iraq, to Dadaab refugee camp and open source investigations.

One of the most dynamic and engaging aspects of the EEF was the opportunity to network with emergency response, humanitarian, development and environment experts from around the world. The more than 100 organizations present made the event an interactive space where partnerships were forged and strengthened – a critical component in building a much-needed “holistic approach”, focused on “both short-term stability as well as long-term resilience”, as articulated by Jesper Holmer Lund, chief of OCHA’s Emergency Services Branch.

The EEF also connected to several existing international processes, such as the UN Environment Assembly and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. These initiatives were consistently brought up during the event, including in the High Level Panel on Environment for Humanity, where panelists stressed the importance of partnerships to ensure the integration of environment in humanitarian action, in order to improve lives and livelihoods. The Forum’s outcomes on conflict and the environment – a key theme throughout the event – has also set the ground for further action ahead of the UN Environment Assembly, where a draft resolution on conflict pollution will be tabled by the Government of Iraq.

EEF-Highlights

Launched at the EEF: 

  • The Somali Institute for Environmental Peace

After witnessing the destruction of environmental resources and the acceleration of land degradation in his country following years of internal conflicts, young Somali Khalif Hassan Dalmar decided to establish the Somali Institute for Environmental Peace (SIEP).

The SIEP is a nonprofit institute that was officially launched at the 2017 EEF. It aims to raise community awareness, educate youth and provide a platform for research on the impacts of conflict on the environment.

Khalif was one of 30 shortlisted candidates from 600 global applicants for UN Environment’s Young Champions of the Earth prize. He is only 30 years old but is a reminder that “young people are an important force for sustainability”, as he himself highlighted during the launch of SIEP at the EEF.

  • The Flash Environmental Assessment Tool (FEAT) 2.0

The pocket guide for field staff 

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The Flash Environmental Assessment Tool (FEAT) 2.0 Pocket Guide was officially launched in four languages (English, Spanish, Russian and French) at the 2017 EEF. The Flash Environmental Assessment Tool (FEAT) helps to identify existing or potential acute environmental impacts that pose risks to humans, human life-supporting functions and ecosystems, following sudden-onset natural disasters. FEAT focuses primarily on immediate and acute impacts arising from released hazardous chemicals.

Read our article dedicated to the Green Star Awards (GSA).

EFF in pictures: 

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