In order to cope with the increasing prevalence and severity of environmental emergencies, the global community needs to play a more active role in seeking to reduce the impacts of environmental emergencies and strengthen the resilience of at-risk countries and vulnerable communities.
The EEC Global Community actively contributes at the advocacy and policy development level, so to ensure more countries are not only better prepared to respond to crisis, but also more resilient in the face of recurring disasters.
The EEC Global Community has the tools and capacity to ensure this. It is now up to the Global Community to harness this potential to ensure the most effective preparedness and response guidance reaches those countries most at risk of environmental emergencies.
To better prepare for and respond to environmental emergencies, countries and international organizations have developed more than thirty conventions, protocols, and other agreements. These legal and policy instruments create a patchwork governance framework, with a number of instruments covering specific elements of an environmental emergency, addressing either global or regional scopes.
The United Nations General Assembly has recognized the importance of environmental emergency preparedness and response, adopting a series of Resolutions to improve established coordination between countries.
Both UN General Assembly Resolution 44/224 (1989) and Resolution 46/182 (1991) acknowledge the need for consolidated international cooperation in monitoring, assessing, and anticipating environmental threats. Within the last decade, Resolution 58/114 (2003) strengthened the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations.
UNEP’s Governing Council has also adopted decisions improving environmental emergency preparedness and response. These decisions, including 21/7 (2001), 22/8 (2002), and 26/15 (2011), seek to increase coordination and effectiveness in emergency assistance.
Agreements regarding thematic elements provide the potential for better response concerning analogous natural and manmade environmental emergencies. For instance, the 1990 International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, and Co-operation (OPRC) establishes a binding framework for international co-operation in response to incidents or threats of marine pollution for more than 100 parties. Similarly, other related thematic frameworks govern responses to wildfires, industrial accidents, and nuclear emergencies.
If a state is unable to respond effectively to an environmental emergency, often its neighbors are the first to provide assistance. Regional frameworks, then, can facilitate rapid response to environmental emergencies. For example, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response is a binding mechanism for both regional and international cooperation in response to environmental disaster. Other regional frameworks include the Black Sea region’s Agreement on Collaboration in Emergency Assistance and Response to Natural and Man-made Disasters as well as the UN Economic Commission for Europe’s Convention on the Transboundary Effects on Industrial Accidents.
The field of environmental emergencies has evolved immensely in the past twenty years. Continuing to bolster coordination between member states ensures the next environmental emergency will be met with faster and more effectiveness response.
Raising awareness of the potential risks and impacts of environmental emergencies is a core element of the EEC.
Through international and regional fora, the EEC advocates for greater preparedness and increased commitment by the international community to adopt a formal, coordinated and comprehensive response system to environmental emergencies.
At the regional and local levels, the EEC promotes greater awareness through the dissemination of information and provision of technical trainings.
The Strategic Advisory Group on Environmental Emergencies (SAGEE) consists of less than ten (10) representatives of governments and organizations. SAGEE membership is accorded to a specific functional capacity, as determined by the government/organisation. The SAGEE has a rotating co-chair from its members with the Chief of the Joint UNEP/OCHA Environment Unit as co-chair.
To download the concept note on the structure and mandate of SAGEE please, click here.
UNISDR Global Platform
The United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Response (UNISDR) convenes the biennial regional Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction. The Global Platform is a major global forum for disaster risk reduction and for the provision of strategic and coherent guidance for the implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action and to share experience among stakeholders.
The Environmental Emergencies Centre, launched at the 2013 UNISDR Global Platform, seeks to engage participants of the Global Platform in the work of the EEC, to further advocate for greater preparedness for environmental emergencies.
For more information on the 2013 UNISDR Global Platform, click here.
Green Star Awards
The Green Star Awards recognize those who have made remarkable efforts to prevent, prepare for, and respond to environmental disasters around the world.
The Awards hail real-life heroes from around the world. They commend those who not only exercised courage and leadership to rise from the ruins of environmental disasters, but more importantly, those who worked tirelessly to prevent such crises, and established measures to brace for their impact.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Green Cross International and the UN Environment Programme are the joint organizers of the Awards.
To find out more information on the 2013 Green Star Awards, click here.
Wilton Park Conference
Wilton Park organises over fifty events a year in the UK and overseas, bringing together leading representatives from the worlds of politics, diplomacy, academia, business, civil society, the military and the media.
Focusing on issues of international security, prosperity and justice, Wilton Park Conferences provide a neutral environment where conflicting views can be expressed and debated openly and calmly, allowing acceptable compromise and resolution to be achieved.
To find out more information on the 2011 Wilton Park Conference on Environmental Emergencies, click here.
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a regional fora for discussion and decision making on a number of policy issues affecting its member states.
ASEAN seeks to accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural development, promote regional peace and security, active collaboration and mutual assistance on matters of common interest, and increase collaboration and cooperation among the community of Southeast Asian Nations.
Following the earthquake and tsunami of 26 December 2004, ASEAN adopted the Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (provide link to 5.2.3 Regional under International Governance). The Agreement distinguishes between three phases of an emergency: emergency relief; rehabilitation and reconstruction; and prevention and mitigation.
The Agreement provides a framework for the development of operational procedures to respond collectively and expeditiously to disasters.
The EEC engages with ASEAN on providing assistance primarily in the prevention and mitigation stage, through the provision of trainings, sharing of information, tools and guidance. Through ASEAN, the EEC can advocate for greater preparedness for the primary and secondary impacts of not only natural disasters, but also technological and human-induced disasters that also create environmental emergencies.
For more information on the workshop conducted by the JEU with ASEAN member states, click here.
The Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS), founded in 1975, is a regional group of fifteen countries, namely: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo. ECOWAS is mandated to promote common policies in all fields of socio-economic activity, the free movement of people, goods, capital and services, and the harmonization of monetary, financial and fiscal policies.
ECOWAS is an important channel for communicating the importance of greater preparedness for environmental emergencies in the West African region, and advocating formal policy development and implementation in this area.
Through the Joint UNEP/OCHA Environment Unit, EEC trainings have been conducted with national responders to environmental emergencies, government officials and industry representatives from ECOWAS member states.
For more information on the Beyond Response: Better Preparedness for Environmental Emergencies pilot training with ECOWAS member states in Nigeria in 2012, click here.
Partnerships and Networks
The EEC relies on the strength of its partners and networks to ensure a comprehensive and coordinated approach to preparedness for environmental emergencies is always provided.
Partners at the global level are essential in the advocacy and awareness raising activities of the EEC, to encourage and inform policy development and also improve programming and capacity at the country level.
Our regional and country level partners are instrumental in providing the networks for the EEC to engage with and strengthen the preparedness and response capacity to environmental emergencies at the national and local levels.
We are grateful for the continued support of all our partners and hope the work of the EEC will continue to provide effective and coordinated assistance and strengthened capacity to some of the world’s most at-risk and vulnerable countries.