Through better dissemination of tools, resources and environmental data, the Joint Initiative has been working to enhance more effective consideration of environment and climate knowledge in humanitarian assistance
Since the Initiative was launched in early 2017 the overarching goal has been to improve access to and use of environmental data and information by humanitarians and to design and improve key environmental assessment tools tailored for humanitarian assistance. Emphasis has been placed on engaging environmental actors in the conflict and disaster space and on coordination with existing environment in humanitarian action (EHA) initiatives to produce a more robust, innovative approach to EHA that transcends the humanitarian-development nexus.
Ensuring that environmental considerations are taken into account early during humanitarian action is key to improving lives, livelihoods and resilience. Increased coordination between environment and humanitarian actors that harnesses environmental knowledge in a way that humanitarians can practically use creates opportunities to improve the quality and accountability of humanitarian response. Environmental issues do not adhere to sectoral or or geographical boundaries and an interdisciplinary approach that requires cooperation between stakeholders at the global, national and local levels is necessary to effect change. Within the backdrop of the humanitarian development nexus discussions, there is increased interest from both the humanitarian and conservation sectors to be more involved and coordinated in the disaster space. The Joint Initiative has been providing such an innovative space for this interaction, at the same time as connecting dots and filling gaps in the EHA landscape, bringing both innovation and continuity.
The Joint Initiative is an ongoing collaboration. The first phase was completed in December 2018, presenting several products and deliverables including the Nexus Environmental Assessment Tool (NEAT+), an update of the Rapid Environmental Assessment (REA) tool and digital online toolkit EHA Connect (now all accessible online). The JEU is the custodian of the deliverables of the project.
The Joint Initiative partners are continuing work to integrate environmental assessments in humanitarian response, building on the network of ‘agents of change’ and tools created and to institutionalize the use of rapid environmental assessment tools and climate sensitive analysis across partner organisations. The Initiative continues to work to increase the focus on collaborative learning and take innovative approaches beyond the individual level to exchange networks of experts and institutions, with the aim that environmental assessment tools become standard practice in crisis response.
From 2019, Joint Initiative partners are embarking on a new assessment of humanitarian packaging, with a focus on plastics.