The UN-CMCoord live eCourse was held from 28 to 30 November 2017 in The Hague, the Netherlands at the CIMIC Centre of Excellence. This event raised awareness on UN-CMCoord in complex emergencies among CIMIC personnel using a blended-learning approach based on the UN-CMCoord eCourse, a distance learning tool.
This month’s Dispatch is dedicated to the 2017 Environment and Emergencies Forum (EEF). The event brought together more than 160 participants from over 100 organizations to discuss innovations in environmental emergency preparedness and response, and to better understand the interdependencies between effective humanitarian action and sustainability. Focusing on the theme “From crisis to opportunity: building resilience by managing environmental risk in emergencies”, the event drew upon the Agenda for Humanity, and set the scene for the third UN Environment Assembly. The Forum’s timing could not have been more strategic, against the backdrop of significant shifts in the nature of humanitarian crises and their consequent impacts on humanitarian assistance.
Over the course of three days, the event placed renewed emphasis on the importance of collectively addressing the environmental dimensions of emergencies, strengthening learning and international collaboration, stimulating demand, and empowering action. It provided me an opportunity to highlight the importance of the environment as a cross-cutting issue in ensuring sustainable and accountable humanitarian action, and emphasize relevant ongoing initiatives, including the New Way of Working.
I am extremely proud of the UN Environment / OCHA Joint Unit’s success in putting together the Forum, and am grateful to our host, UN Environment in Nairobi for their hospitality and consistent support. It was a wonderful experience to be part of such thought-provoking discussions with so many inspiring individuals, full of new ideas to bring to the table. I would like to thank each one of the participants for their inventive inputs and for playing an essential role in the success of the event. I hope this month’s Dispatch gives you an insight into the valuable discussions and important outcomes that emerged from the 2017 Forum.
On 12 October, the Baghdad/Erbil and Amman based CMCoord Officers, as well as representatives from the Policy Development and Studies Branch (PDSB) and ESB’s Civil Military Coordination Section (CMCS), participated in the Global Protection Cluster (GPC) Roundtable on “Civil-Military Coordination for Protection Outcomes” where they spoke about civil-military coordination from a humanitarian perspective. The event was part of the GPC discussion series on “International Humanitarian Law and the Protection of Internally Displaced”. The Roundtable provided an opportunity to jointly reflect on the reality of humanitarian response on the ground, through the lens of different actors operating in the same geographical space.
Steering Committee members from UN agencies, the Global Protection Cluster and ICVA participated in the Protection Standby Capacity Project’s Steering Committee (SC) retreat in Genthod, Switzerland on 27-28 September. The retreat’s aim was to catalyze progress of work undertaken over the last months to develop the ProCap Strategic Framework 2018-2021 and to formulate a management response to the 2017 Independent Review of the project. The new strategy aims to make sure the ProCap project remains relevant within the humanitarian system and aligned with new humanitarian commitments, policies and frameworks, including the IASC Protection Policy (2016), the New Way of Working and progress on localization.
During the retreat the ProCap Support Unit, hosted by OCHA, presented an overview of the results and added value of 2016 -2017 deployments. Of note is the changing nature and focus of ProCap deployments since its inception in 2005, beginning as mainly support to operational coordination mechanisms moving now to a primarily focus on providing strategic support for humanitarian leadership, including Humanitarian Coordinators and Humanitarian Country Teams, as well as policy influence and practice.
For more info about ProCap: http://www.humanitarianresponse.info/coordination/procap
The Caribbean has experienced the worst Hurricane season in years. On 6 September, Hurricane Irma – the most powerful hurricane ever recorded over the Atlantic – hit Antigua and Barbuda, then continuing to wreak havoc across Saint Barthélemy, Sint Maarten/St. Martin, Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Turks and Caicos, Bahamas and Cuba. A category-5 hurricane with averaged maximum sustained winds of 295 km/h, Irma caused 35 deaths, as well as long-lasting damage to infrastructure, houses and basic supplies. Up to 90 per cent of infrastructure was destroyed on some of the islands. An estimated 20,000 children have been affected throughout the region and 17,000 people were in immediate need of shelter. In total, some 265,000 people are estimated to have been affected across the region.
ESB’s Field Coordination Support Section worked closely with Member States, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, and OCHA’s Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean and pre-deployed several UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) teams to Barbados, Jamaica and Haiti in order to re-deploy them to the most severely affected areas as soon as the Hurricane had passed. UNDAC members supported rapid needs assessment, information management and response coordination in Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, British Virgin Islands, Sint Maarten, and Turks and Caicos Islands.
Less than two weeks later, Hurricane Maria caused widespread damage and destruction in Puerto Rico and Dominica, one of the poorest countries in the Eastern Caribbean. The entire population suffered direct damage to housing and livelihoods. In response, UNDAC members were re-deployed to Dominica from the Irma response, and operational support partners were mobilized to bolster the team, such as MapAction and the Americas Support Team. UNDAC members are still managing logistics, administration and finances in Dominica at the moment. With the response moving to the long-term recovery, the UNDAC teams managed to support and strengthen regional and national actors and certainly made a difference in the coordination of the international response to both hurricanes.
“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
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.
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
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:
Over 400 people took part in the Asia-Pacific Regional Earthquake Exercise held on from 11 to 13 September in Putrajaya, Malaysia. The event was hosted by the Malaysia National Disaster Management Agency, and supported by China, Russia and the United States. OCHA’s Field Coordination Support Section which is also the INSARAG Secretariat, co-organised it with strong support from OCHA’s Regional and Country Offices in Asia-Pacific.
More than 200 staff across 25 Government agencies were joined by 192 international participants from 24 countries. The stakeholders participating in the exercise included national disaster managers and responders at all levels, international USAR teams and Emergency Medical Teams, as well as UNDAC teams and ASEAN’s Emergency Rapid Assessment Teams.
The Malaysian government recognized that the simulation exercise provided an important platform to revise and improve their internal coordination and response, adding trigger factors to swiftly decide if international assistance would be required in such large-scale emergencies.
The Philippines has confirmed that they will host the next regional Earthquake Response Exercise in Manila.