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Humanitarian Horizons

Greening the System

Pressure to reduce the environmental impact of humanitarian operations is accelerating. This stream aims to support the sector to measurably reduce the negative impacts of humanitarian action on the climate and the environment.

Vanuatu, Photography by Kersom Richard

Stream overview

The need for stronger global commitment and action to mitigate the effects of climate change is undeniable.

The ultimate purpose of humanitarian action is to protect and preserve life. Our current global trajectory of a rapidly warming climate demonstrates that human life – particularly the lives of the most vulnerable – is increasingly at stake. Global commitments and actions are needed to drive change at the speed and scale required to mitigate negative impacts. The humanitarian system is no exception.

Numerous initiatives have sought to elevate environmental protection, yet progress has been slight. In order for the sector to move towards minimising environmental impact and an overall greener system, entrenched attitudes, assumptions and practices must shift. 

This stream will explore how humanitarian action affects the environment and how humanitarian actors can move towards a tangibly greener response.

Our approach

We believe that there are three interrelated elements that are required for change:  

  • Locally grounded understanding of the problems, and solutions that focus on improved outcomes for affected communities
  • Analysis of what promotes or discourages behavioural change
  • Practical techniques or guidance to make implementation easier  

What are we exploring?

This research stream seeks to answer three main research questions:

  • How does humanitarian action impact on the environment?
  • What could a green humanitarian response look like?
  • How can humanitarian actors tangibly move towards greener response?

Participation and partnership

As with the People, Power and Local Leadership stream, this stream will rely both on established HAG partnerships as well as the brokering of new relationships with key stakeholders, all in line with our commitments to the Principles of Partnership.

As a developing area for HAG, this stream offers exciting opportunities to foster partnerships with environmental or climate-focused agencies and the private sector and build upon existing partnerships with operational responders. 

Australia, Photography by Greta Carroll