Tip Sheet on Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA): Gender Responsive Humanitarian Action
Main recommendations extracted from the SEA of the Feminist International Assistance Policy (FIAP) for the Human Dignity Action Area (Gender-Responsive Humanitarian Action)
In compliance with the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals, GAC has produced a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) of its Feminist International Assistance Policy (FIAP) and its action area policies. The purpose of the SEA is to assess the potential environmental effects, either positive or negative, associated with the FIAP and its action area policies and to incorporate the results in the development of these policies in order to reduce potential adverse environmental effects and enhance environmental and developmental outcomes.
Summary of the Gender-Responsive Humanitarian Action Area priority pathways: Canada’s humanitarian engagement will focus on meeting the needs of crisis-affected populations, strengthening the humanitarian system, and protecting crisis-affected populations.
What are the environmental sustainability issues and linkages?
- Environmental issues are an underlying and contributing factor in many humanitarian crises. Warming climate, natural disasters, worsening air pollution, water scarcity, and accelerated biodiversity and species loss jeopardize vital ecosystems that support critical human systems, and can force millions of people to relocate within their countries of origin or seek refuge through international migration.
- Climate- and weather-related disasters, especially flooding, are responsible for most of the displacement, as well as slow-onset, long term crises like drought. The chaos that prevails after a large-scale natural disaster and the flood of resources that flow into a country can prompt food insecurity, corruption, crimes, conflict and environmental degradation.
What are the potential environmental effects of the proposed pathways?
Humanitarian responses can inadvertently have negative effects on the environment. Among the issues are:
- The disposal of large amounts of waste and sewage.
- The impacts on water and air quality (e.g. depletion and/or contamination of surface and groundwater, open fires and cook stoves).
- The impacts on other natural resources (e.g. deforestation, soil erosion, biodiversity loss, and other environmental hazards), which can also exacerbate vulnerabilities and create conflicts with nearby populations.
What are the proposed measures to minimise potential adverse environmental effects and increase positive development outcomes?
- Support international efforts to reduce natural disaster risks and help populations recover from climate-related disasters, while also investing in building their resilience to future shocks.
- Support and build upon the good work started by the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA) and the United Nation Environmental Program (UNEP) to raise awareness, guide and coordinate amongst humanitarian actors/partners on environment-related matters.
- Assess, as part of due diligence, the environmental management framework of partner humanitarian organisations to ensure that they have appropriate policies and the capacity to manage environmental issues. If necessary, require them to strengthen these through dialogue, negotiation, and contractual arrangements.
- Encourage and support humanitarian organisations to implement sustainable procurement policies and procedures, promote environmental stewardship, and manage/use resources responsibly for their intended purpose (i.e. to avoid diversion and waste). This should include careful monitoring of the use and status of local natural resources.
- Promote the carrying out of rapid environmental assessment as an effective tool to quickly assess environmental risks and identify appropriate, feasible mitigation measures, including with respect to the proper design, construction and decommissioning of camps and sanitation facilities, the choice of reconstruction materials and energy sources (e.g. clean cook stoves, solar panels to replace diesel generators), the sustainable use of water, wood, and other local natural resources, the disposal of used water, sewage, solid and biomedical waste, packaging, and construction waste.
- Advocate for countries to address underlying environmental issues that contribute to weaken resilience to climatic events leading to humanitarian crisis (e.g. mangrove and shoreline protection, reforestation and afforestation, and sustainable land and water management, human settlement planning).
For more information, consult the Public Statement: Strategic Environmental Assessment of Action Areas under Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy
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