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Sustainable Environmental Management

What We Do
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Four Principles of Action

UNHCR believes that the tragedy of forced displacement must not be compounded by damage to the environment. Environmental management is therefore a policy priority at UNHCR and is relevant in all phases of our work, from emergencies to rehabilitating the environment when a camp or settlement is closed.

UNHCR's sustainable environmental management programmes cannot be achieved without the active involvement of refugees or internally displaced people. To promote and guide these programmes, UNHCR advocates four principles of action:

  • integration - ensuring that the environment features in other related programmes or activities such as site planning or sanitation;
  • prevention before cure - taking action as early as possible to minimize potentially large-scale challenges and irreversible effects;
  • cost-effectiveness - with limited resources at its disposal, UNHCR must always strive to maximize the efficiency of its assistance programmes;
  • local participation –– involving refugee and local communities in the development and management of environmental activities is fundamental to managing natural resources in a sustainable manner.

Environmental Assessment, Monitoring and Evaluation

In order to maximise positive impacts and ensure accountability towards people of concern, UNHCR works to ensure that its interventions are appropriate, effective and cost-efficient. This calls for good management and up-to-date knowledge of the impact that its work is having on the ground.

UNHCR and its partners have gained much experience and knowledge over the years about environmental management in conflict situations. A key lesson learned is that there is a need for clearer and more systematic approaches to environmental assessments, monitoring and evaluation, as part of overall project and programme management.

To address this, UNHCR and CARE International in 2005 developed the Framework for Assessing, Monitoring and Evaluating the Environment in refugee-related operations, or FRAME. Planned and trialled with partners in many countries, FRAME has produced tools and guidelines that help managers and field practitioners address environmental issues and concerns, from contingency planning to when camps are closed and rehabilitated.

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