Disasters, crises, emergencies and conflict can all have a significant, often detrimental, impact on the surrounding environment. In addition, the subsequent relief, recovery and reconstruction phases can exacerbate negative environmental impacts if the activities are not designed to take the environment into account. Considering the importance of robust environmental approaches being adopted in the early recovery activities of any humanitarian response, the Global Cluster for Early Recovery (GCER) has taken a proactive step towards mainstreaming and integrating environmental aspects and opportunities across the Early Recovery Clusters as a multi-dimensional issue.

The potential negative impact of a disaster or conflict on the environment can threaten human life, health, livelihoods and security of the affected populations and failure to address these risks can undermine the relief process, causing additional loss of life, displacement, aid dependency and increased vulnerability. Therefore early recovery interventions should help to identify and mitigate the direct and indirect impacts associated with these four areas of risk.In contrast though, disaster response and early recovery can also afford opportunities and benefits from integrating environmental aspects into the relief and recovery activities, i.e. from economic growth through recycling initiatives as sustainable livelihoods and emergency employment. The ongoing work by the GCER focusses on developing tools and guidance for the cluster actors on pragmatic areas such as debris, solid waste and rehabilitation of damaged industrial facilities. As the tools and guidance are developed they will be made available for wide dissemination.

The overriding objective of GCER's approach for maintreaming Environment into Early Recovery activities is to:

  • Demonstrate and advocate for the importance of environmental issues as they relate to early recovery activities and approaches; and,
  • Develop support mechanisms for the facilitation of improved environmental considerations into early recovery activities and approaches.
Photo credit: UNDP Syria, SWM - Homs - July 2015
Other resources
Early Recovery Programmes : Basic Infrastrutcure repairs and rehabilitation (Waste management, Solid Waste Management...)
Debris quantification : Assessing for action - Urban Resilience : Assessments therefore are not an end in and of themselves, they are a support to guide action, to enable decision making, and to become an evidence base for decisions. For debris management, the considerations we’ve just described have a number of ramifications. We should start for example by understanding what our priorities are. Are we trying to clear as fast as possible, or do we have available time to create detailed strategies of the most financially or environmentally efficient way of operating?
Learn more on Early Recovery and Environment : check Module 1 of our e-learning
Environment in Humanitarian Action - Library
Post your questions on our discussion forum ! 
Country illustrations
Debris removal and prevention : Nepal
Waste management : Nigeria
Debris removal and waste management : Syria