AUTHOR: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

LAST UPDATED: August 2005

TYPE OF TOOL: Guidelines

KEYWORDS: humanitarian action, environmental management, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), water, fuel and energy, land and land use, impact assessment, guidelines

FORMATS: Downloadable PDF document, 51 pages



http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/home (UNHCR)


ABOUT THE TOOL: First elaborated in 1996, this updated version of the Guidelines has been compiled to further assist governments, partners and field staff in better understanding and appreciating the need for careful and consistent approaches to environmental management. There are three main objectives to these guidelines:

  • To describe the basis for incorporating environmental factors into specific UNHCR guidance/guidelines and programs. Environmental issues are cross-sectoral by nature, and environmental considerations have to be introduced in a consistent and coordinated manner into all relevant sectoral activities, as stipulated by the reformulated environmental policy approved by the 46th session of the Executive Committee of UNHCR (EXCOM 1995).
  • To provide more detailed information and the rationale behind the EXCOM policy statement.
  • To serve as an awareness-raising tool for UNHCR and other agencies involved with refugee and returnee operations.

The guidelines also seek to provide a framework within which UNHCR and implementing partner staff, in particular, will be able to:

  • Identify and evaluate the range of some of the most common environmental impacts associated with a specific refugee or returnee situation;
  • Identify and evaluate opportunities to undertake positive environmental interventions and determine the balance of advantages and disadvantages of these interventions; and
  • Select interventions that best combine the interests of the refugees, those of the receiving country, donors and UNHCR.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: “The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees was established on December 14, 1950 by the United Nations General Assembly. The agency is mandated to lead and co-ordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide. Its primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees. It strives to ensure that everyone can exercise the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another State, with the option to return home voluntarily, integrate locally or to resettle in a third country. It also has a mandate to help stateless people.”


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