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5th International Disaster and Risk Conference IDRC 2014 Integrative Risk Management - The role of science, technology & practice 24-28 August 2014 in Davos, Switzerland

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  • 3 messages:
    Science is necessary to inform international humanitarian action - however, lingo is different, and the challenge is to translate scientific data into actionable information to inform decision making, practice, and policies
    Common approach to risk assessment is necessary
    3 ) International standards and guidelines can promote interoperability between local, national, and international actors. Based upon best practice, these tools can be adapted to local contexts – I will present two of them today (available on
  • Through this brief presentation, I would like to show some of the challenges and opportunities in bringing the environment and disaster communities together at the international level.
  • Explain how the Joint Unit brings together the technical expertise of the environment development agency UNEP, plus the humanitarian side of OCHA and how this enables a humanitarian response targeted to environmental emergencies.
    Note that we are well placed to discuss issues related to the interface between environment and disasters, as the Joint Unit has a foot in each domain.
    If you wish, here explain the definition of environmental emergency:
    “An environmental emergency is defined as a sudden onset disaster or accident resulting from natural, technological or human-induced factors, or a combination of these, that cause or threaten to cause severe environmental damage as well as harm to human health and/or livelihoods.”
    UNEP Strategic Framework on Emergency Prevention, Preparedness, Assessment, Mitigation, and Response
  • The disaster risk reduction community is increasingly understanding the role of environment in reducing disaster risk. Issues like ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation are making their way into global frameworks (including the post-2015 framework on DRR).
    We should, however, accept that while we can reduce disaster risk, disasters will still happen – and there will be continual need for disaster response and humanitarian assistance. Environmental challenges like environmental degradation, climate change, population growth, food- and energy-price volatility, water scarcity and urbanization will affect the future landscape of humanitarian action. Together these are increasing risks for vulnerable people. They are eroding people’s ability to cope with shocks, making crises more protracted and recurrent, and undermining sustainable development. These trends have become as likely to cause humanitarian crises as disasters and conflicts.
    The humanitarian community should also acknowledge the role of environment both as an underlying vulnerability (resource scarcity, land erosion) and as a potential hazard (environmental degradation, urban landscapes, industrialization).
  • In an effort to take these environmental factors into account in humanitarian action, the Joint Unit developed the Environmental Emergency Risk Index. The EERI builds upon existing humanitarian, development and environmental performance indices, primarily the InfoRM. InfoRM is a way to measure the risk of humanitarian crises that identifies where crises requiring international assistance may occur and analyses that risk so it can be better managed by everyone. The EERI looks at the InfoRM risk elements of hazards, vulnerabilities and capacities – adding key environmental emergency elements in order to get an understanding of those countries most at risk of environmental emergencies.
    The EERI captures two elements more that any other known index in the humanitarian sector: technological hazards and environmental vulnerability.
    Like the InfoRM, the EERI
    Permits objective classification by country.
    Is proactive: better than “responding ad hoc to requests from countries or donors”.
    Allows prioritization of support efforts on the basis of a systematic compilation of data.
    The EERI is not:
    will never be, but will improve as datasets are reinforced.
    index is merely relative, comparing countries.
    needs to be periodically updated and regularly improved with better data, understanding and techniques.
    (Here the scientific community can be of assistance)
  • Share the EERI results. Point out that the EERI is a work in progress. Mention that we have piloted EERI application in Caucasus and Central Asia.
  • Invite the scientific communities and participants to collaborate on the EERI.
    Partnering with us on the EERI could mean many things; working to improve global datasets, engaging in a peer review of the index, adding additional datasets and/or using the index to advocate for the importance of including technological hazards and environmental vulnerabilities into disaster and humanitarian risk management. Further review, development and use of the index will be necessary in order to strengthen and improve it.
    Depending on partners’ interest and resources available, the JEU will lead work to further develop the EERI - with the objective to launch the tool at the Environmental Emergencies Forum in June 2015.
  • JEU_Env_DRR_EERI_GRF_28Aug2014

    1. 1. Integrating Environment into Humanitarian Action and DRR Joint UNEP/OCHA Environment Unit joint Wendy Cue Chief Joint UNEP/OCHA Environment Unit OCHA Emergency Services Branch Geneva, Switzerland
    2. 2. Building Functional Resilience: Integrating Ecosystems, Environment and Natural Resources into DRR
    3. 3. Presentation outline • Joint UNEP/OCHA Environment Unit • Environment in DRR and Humanitarian Action • FEAT and Environmental Emergency Risk Index
    4. 4. Joint UNEP/OCHA Environment Unit Technical expertise + Humanitarian coordination = Prepared Response
    5. 5. Future landscape of humanitarian action Environmental degradation Urbanization Climate Change Slow-onset disasters Extreme weather events Water scarcity Increased risk of (environmental) emergencies
    6. 6. FEAT Flash Environment Assessment Tool • For natural disaster response and planning. • Used to identify secondary environmental impacts • Focus on “big & obvious” acute life-threatening issues • Can identify immediate needs Session 4 6
    7. 7. How to analyse environmental aspects of humanitarian risk? Environmental Emergency Risk Index: Need to integrate environment in risk models and to prioritize efforts Captures two new elements: •Technological hazards •Environmental vulnerability Builds on what is already available, is proactive and forms part of a set of criteria on which countries and initiatives to engage with
    8. 8. EERI Initial Results
    9. 9. Environmental Emergency Risk Next steps:  Exploring the various elements of environmental emergency risk • Country-dedicated work • Improvement of datasets • Links between the different hazard and vulnerability elements  Further exploring the links between humanitarian, climate change and environmental emergency risk?
    10. 10. joint