This conference was organized in the framework of the XI International Integrated Safety and Security Exhibition 2018 which took place in Noginsk Rescue Centre, on 7 June 2018. The conference, jointly organized by EMERCOM and OCHA, was moderated by Pavel Baryshev, Deputy Minister of the Russian Federation for Civil Defense, Emergencies and Elimination of Consequences of Natural Disasters and Jesper Homer Lund.
This international event brought together over 200 disaster management experts from national disaster management agencies, international organizations and the United Nations Secretariat, agencies, funds and programmes to discuss the current status of international assistance during large-scale natural disasters. The participants of this conference discussed the proposed draft “Dos and Don’ts in International Disaster Response”, and agreed that the paper provides a good reference of guidance for action by affected countries and international responders in major natural disasters. It also identified challenges in coordination of response operations, shared best practices and developed recommendations for further strengthening humanitarian response and optimizing the use of resources.
The participants also proposed that the document be further evaluated and refined before considering to introduce the Guide as a reference of international disaster response. It is further recommended to develop a template for requests of international assistance to facilitate the process between the affected country and potential responders.
Following a request from the Minister of Environment of Colombia, ERSB in coordination with the UN Environment/OCHA Joint Environment Unit (JEU), deployed a joint UNDAC/JEU mission in response to the oil spill which affected the Santander Department of Colombia. The team of eight included environmental experts, two of whom deployed through the European Union Civil Protection Mechanism (UCPM), UNDAC team members and OCHA Colombia staff. The objective of this mission was to do the following:
– Complete a rapid assessment of environmental damage from an independent perspective
– Review of how the Ministry’s response was and what can be improved in the future
– Set up guidelines for the restoration plan
– Make recommendations for strengthening institutional capacity.
The experts were deployed between 11 and 26 April 2018 to assist the Ministry of Environment in assessing the environmental impacts to ecosystems and identify humanitarian consequences and needs of affected population. The final technical report is confidential and was delivered to the authorities upon mission completion.
An UNDAC team was deployed to Papua New Guinea following the 7.5 magnitude earthquake that struck the Highlands of Papua New Guinea on 26 February 2018 that left approximately 270,000 people requiring immediate humanitarian assistance. The team was composed of seven members, the Cook Islands and an environmental expert from the Netherlands deployed by the European Union Civil Protection Mechanism through the UN Environment/OCHA Joint Unit. The mission objectives were as follows:
— Support humanitarian coordination of the National Disaster Centre (NDC), Resident Coordinator and Disaster Management Team (DMT) at the provincial level in Mt. Hagen to kick-start the response
– Support Government coordination
– Support conduct of assessments
– Support environmental assessment
– Information management and reporting
– Ensure regular situation reporting
The deployment of UNDAC members from the region ensured a regional approach to augmenting in-country capacity and already existing structures, such as including the disaster management team, the national and local coordination structures.
Welcome to this latest issue of our United Nations Disaster Coordination (UNDAC) Newsletter!
We are happy to update you on a number of initiatives, activities and changes which have occurred over the first half of 2018. As many of you are aware, OCHA has gone through several major changes to become a more accountable, agile, decentralized, effective, transparent and collaborative organization.
In this process, the Emergency Services Branch (ESB) has become the Emergency Response Support Branch – ERSB. The three Sections of the branch have become more integrated and will all be engaged in UNDAC-related activities. Our mission remains to bring local, regional and global responders together to prepare for and rapidly respond to emergencies. Our priority is to work across response networks before, during and after emergencies, and we will continue developing guidance and tools to advance operational and technical excellence in crisis response. Within our reformed branch, focus has been given to refining and strengthening our regional outreach, working closely with OCHA’s regional offices and regional partner organizations. The structural changes will be explained in further details in this Newsletter.
In terms of deployments, 2018 has been somewhat quiet. We have had two UNDAC missions: in Papua New Guinea and Colombia, and have been busy with a number of training activities to induct new UNDAC members, strengthen the knowledge of existing members, and foster interoperability and coordination among our partners across the world. We are furthermore finalizing the UNDAC strategy for 2018-2021 with clearer realignment to the other OCHA surge mechanisms and to comply with the role of the OCHA regional offices providing the first line of surge.
To end, I would like to remind all UNDAC Members that they are expected to comply with the highest ethical standards and are bound to the UN Standards of Conduct when on mission or taking part in trainings. We are working to further strengthen the understanding of and compliance with these standards among UNDAC members. In the near future, we will share with you mandatory training and guidance materials on issues such as Prevention of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, Harassment and Discrimination and Conflicts of Interest. For now, please read this short guidance document on the Standards of Conduct for the International Civil Service. Please do not hesitate to contact your UNDAC Regional Focal Point in ERSB should you have any questions or inquiries with regards to its content.
As the 2017 comes to a close, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your most valued support during the last 12 months. ESB’s relationships with our operational partners, technical networks, governments, donors, NGOs, private sectors and regional organizations are vital in making our achievements possible.
2017 was quite a year for all of us at ESB. We’ve been through many changes and developments, but also achieved a huge amount. Particular highlights have included 12 UNDAC Missions to 12 countries, surge deployment of more than 130 people to more than 30 countries; 6 CMCoord support missions to 6 countries/region; 7 environmental emergencies missions to 7 countries; 13 IEC/IER Classification of USAR Teams, some 60 training & exercise and launch of 3 online training courses. ESB facilitated two international conferences in 2017. I was delighted with the large and very diverse participation and interesting discussion at the Environmental Emergencies Forum in Nairobi, co-hosted with UN Environment. The HNPW 2017 was also very productive and successful in bringing together more than 1200 participants to find solutions to some of the most pressing global humanitarian challenges and ensure progress of the respective technical networks forming this event. I hope you will join us again at the next HNPW in February 2018, where the focus will on how to strengthen collaboration between existing and emerging partners and network. You can read more and register on https://www.unocha.org/humanitarian-networks-and-partnerships-week-hnpw
The OCHA downsizing exercise did impact ESB, but I would like to thank you all for your significant support and dedication during these changing times. As part of the change management process “creating a better OCHA”, ESB will be reorganized as the Emergency Response Support Branch, and will be an integrated part of the Coordination Function of the organization in 2018. The change process is still ongoing as we enter into 2018, and we will continue to keep you updated. While our Branch will be reorganized into new structure, we will continue most of our ESB functions including the maintenance and enhancement of the strong network of partners and stakeholder. Partnership and relationship-building with various stakeholders, while its end-result is less visible, will enable OCHA to support capacity building and deliver of response in emergencies and hence will continue to be one of the top priorities for our new Branch. A good indication of this is the nearly 40.000 users of the Virtual OSOCC that facilitate communication across networks and organizations. I am sure by working together and keeping focused on our priorities we can realise our shared goal which is to help disaster-affected populations.
With best wishes for a prosperous 2018
The Environmental Experts Hub (EE Hub) aims to provide practical guidance to experts deploying on environmental emergency preparedness and response missions through the UN Environment / OCHA Joint Unit (JEU). On this site, you will find all the necessary information, guidance, tools and training materials in preparation for deployment. Through the Hub, you will also be able to join our Community of Practice, an informal platform where experts can learn, share and keep in touch with the JEU and other environmental experts around the world.