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Greening the System: a Vision for a Green Humanitarian Future

Humanitarian actors are faced with the accelerating imperative to improve the environmental and closely related social impact of their activities. Scientific research, humanitarian imperative, organisational codes of conduct, national legal frameworks and wider international agreements set expectations for humanitarian organisations and their partners in this regard.

However, high-level policy and rhetoric has not always translated into substantive, impactful change at the response level. Many humanitarian actors implement programmes that have climate change adaptation objectives, yet face significant barriers to their implementation and progress. While this is a global problem, the Asia-Pacific region presents its own specific obstacles to collectively greening humanitarian action.

In order to address these challenges, we the humanitarian sector can gain significant insight from building a shared vision of what a green humanitarian system could look like. With a vision to aim for, there is scope for the sector to collectively develop a roadmap of what needs to happen in order to improve socio-environmental outcomes.

This paper, developed in partnership with GLOW (Pakistan) and the Pacific Islands Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (PIANGO) (Fiji), presents our vision for a green humanitarian system. It strives to elevate discussion and promote fresh thinking from within the sector, based on evidence and grounded in the lived experience of people and communities participating in and directly impacted by humanitarian action.