This website aims to be a pathway to and through the labyrinth of existing environmental information. It is intended to demonstrate that the Triple Bottom Line is as relevant to humanitarian operations as it is to commercial success. In other words, it is hoped that it will demonstrate that environmental sustainability (planet) is a factor in operational effectiveness to prevent suffering (people) and increased cost benefit (profit).
This resource is based on the following principles:
- humanitarian organisations provide a service to customers;
- the environment is the ultimate service provider, especially to the most vulnerable;
- ensuring sustainability increases the effectiveness of projects; and
- supporting the decision of the effect population is key to this.
Limitations & Assumptions
This resource has the following limitations and assumptions:
- due to the complexity of humanitarian responses it does not differentiate between urban, rural or camp based responses;
- it assumes that humanitarian responses will undergo a certain amount of ‘design’ even if this is strategic in nature;
- it assumes that humanitarian agencies are supported by an international logistics system that is already in place;
- it does not intend that humanitarian responses will have zero environmental impact rather that this area could be mitigated; certainly with regards local impacts which will harm the people humanitarian agencies aim to assist; and
- it assumes that a humanitarian agency will respond with ‘heavy surge’ tactics, then support the local Government in taking ownership and continuing development of services to society.
The United Nations defines the topic as:
“Disasters and conflicts, as well as relief and recovery operations, impact the environment in ways that threaten human life, health, livelihoods and security. Failure to address these risks can undermine the relief process, causing additional loss of life, displacement, aid dependency and increased vulnerability.”
Humanitarian Action and the Environment.