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Integrating environmental safeguards into disaster management: a field manual

Environmental facets are essential components of human well-being and contribute positively to human security, providing basic materials for good life, good health and good social relations. Yet, these are being damaged and overexploited, ultimately to the detriment of humans. In addition, increasing incidence and intensity of natural disasters and climate change are having over-arching impacts on the environment. Sustainable development, often of the most vulnerable sectors of society, is thus being undermined.

One of the key reasons why this damage continues is that an integrated  approach is adopted rarely in disaster risk management. For example, relief organisations may focus on damage to life and property while others examine impacts on livelihoods. Very often, ecological services and their indirect economic values are omitted completely from assessments. Adaptation to climate change is ignored.

Mainstreaming ecosystem concerns – both ecological and economical – into the development agenda and integrating them into disaster management, therefore, becomes essential. This manual attempts to provide background information and guidance for integrating environmental concerns into disaster management.

Volume 1 of the manual describes briefly the framework of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA). The MA links clearly ecosystem well-being to human well-being, and presents the major threats imposed by human activities to the services that ecosystems provide. Volume 1 also gives snapshot views of ecosystem well-being and human well-being in Asia and a brief overview of selected ecosystems in the region. Clarification of the difference between natural hazards and natural disasters and a discussion on risk and vulnerability are presented. Climate change and its impacts on natural disasters is also discussed. At the end of Volume 1 is a series of annexes that detail ecosystem services of and threats to ecosystems described in the text.

Volume 2 describes the disaster management cycle and its phases: prevention, mitigation, preparedness, relief, recovery and rebuilding. It introduces an integrated approach to assessments that examines biodiversity, ecosystem services, economic valuation and livelihoods. Volume 2 deals with each of the phases of the disaster management cycle, lists steps and introduces questions that must be raised during each phase in order to integrate environmental concerns into disaster management. These steps and questions are designed around the framework of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and its identified threats.

Finally, in the third volume, an integrated summary worksheet is presented as a tool for use. Details of the techniques for each component of assessment are also presented in this volume, as well as a list of available web resources.

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Integrating environmental safeguards into disaster management: a training course

The Ecosystems and Livelihoods Group Asia, IUCN provides a training programme that is structured to a) present background information on the importance of ecosystem services to human well-being; b) identify the key threats to these services; c) introduce a simple framework and raises questions that must be asked during the design and implementation of projects; d) look at climate change mitigation and adaptation measures for projects; and e) use an integrated and participatory approach for assessments.

In total, this residential training programme provides guidance for integrating environmental concerns into disaster risk reduction. The programme uses the field manual described above.

The programme is suited for all relief and development workers, park and coastal managers, local administrators and is developed as a three-four day, residential programme with multimedia presentations, hands-on assessments in the field and interactive discussions.

Integrating environmental safeguards into disaster management: a training course

Linking coastal ecosystems and human well-being: learning from conceptual frameworks and empirical results

This paper builds on the conceptual basis developed under Phase 1 of the project and uses the clear, analytical framework presented in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment - which links ecosystem services with human well-being - and shows how post-tsunami awareness and action created the recognition that coastal ecosystems and human well-being are interconnected and interdependent. It describes the different services provided by coastal ecosystems and demonstrates clearly the critical importance of these interconnections.

Valuation of coastal ecosystems and ecosystem services can highlight both the benefits of conservation, as well as the costs of degradation and damage to both livelihoods and economies. This is demonstrated clearly by results from phase one and other studies from Sri Lanka and Thailand. By doing so, this report shows how economic valuation of coastal ecosystem services can be a valuable tool for conservation managers and development decision-makers.

This report presents an integrated framework that includes four sub-assessments: on biodiversity, ecosystem services, economic values, on livelihoods and human well-being. It shows how, together, these four assessments provide an integrated framework that yields all required data for informed decision-making.

The report also provides an overview of the indicators that could be used under each sub-assessment, as well as an example of an ecosystem assessment for Sri Lanka, that illustrates the information required for establishing a baseline.

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Integrating environmental safeguards into disaster management: summary sheets

Summary sheets extracting the salient points from the above manuals are presented in Bahasa Indonesia, Dhivehi, English, Sinhalese, Tamil and Thai.

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Awareness materials about mangroves

These products range from general flyers about mangroves to posters detailing ecological mangrove restoration.

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Lessons learned post tsunami: a multi-stakeholder regional dialogue

 A multi-stakeholder regional dialogue was held towards the end of the project, in April 2009, in order to share the lessons learned during the different phases of the OAPN Project with a wider group of stakeholders. It was hoped that this would also provide other researchers with a platform to share valuable lessons learned during the post tsunami intervention.

As part of the inputs to this Dialogue, the Ecosystems and Livelihoods Group Asia commissioned four papers from Indonesia, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Thailand, which reviewed and analysed the successes and failures of the restoration and conservation work carried out by these selected agencies after the tsunami of December 2004.

An outcome of this workshop - after valuable group discussions - was a synthesis, summarising lessons learned.

Lessons learned: synthesis and way forward The Challenge of Holistic Development: Tailoring Environment to the Post-Tsunami Response in Sri Lanka (CARE)
Fisherman casting net Muthurajawela Marsh Sri Lanka