In addition to their tragic human toll, disasters and conflicts can destroy infrastructure, undermine human security and tear apart the fabric of sustainable development. Their impacts are disproportionately borne by the most vulnerable sectors of society, affecting livelihoods and compounding poverty. 

As a victim or a driver of crisis, the environment can play a pivotal role in human security and well being. Degraded or poorly managed ecosystems can lead to conflict over dwindling water, food or fuel resources, or to increased exposure and vulnerability to natural hazards, such as landslides or flash floods. Conversely, sustainable management of natural resources can help reduce the risk of disasters and conflict, and provide a strong platform for recovery, development and lasting peace.

UNEP’s Disasters and Conflicts sub-programme works to understand and reduce the impacts of environmental degradation from disasters and conflicts on human health, livelihoods and security. It also emphasizes the role of healthy ecosystems and sustainably-managed resources in reducing the risk of disasters and conflicts. From the Balkans to Afghanistan, Lebanon, Sudan and Nigeria, UNEP has responded to crisis situations in more than 40 countries since 1999, delivering wide-ranging environmental expertise to national governments and partners in the UN family.

Through its Disasters and Conflicts sub-programme, UNEP provides four core services to Member States:

As the focal point for environment within the UN crisis response system, UNEP also works to integrate environmental considerations within humanitarian and peacekeeping operations. Coordinated by UNEP's Post-Conflict and Disaster Management Branch, the Disasters and Conflicts sub-programme is delivered through several key actors and partners, including the Joint UNEP/OCHA Environment Unit, the Environment and Security (ENVSEC) Initiative, and the APELL (Awareness and Preparedness from Emergencies on a Local Level) Programme.

Key policy activities relating to UNEP’s work in Disasters and Conflicts fall under its two thematic services of Disaster Risk Reduction and Environmental Cooperation for Peacebuilding.

United Nations Environment Programme
Post-Conflict and Disaster Management Branch
International Environment House
11-15 Chemin des Anémones
CH-1219 Châtelaine, Geneva
Switzerland
Tel: +41(0)22 917 8530
Fax: +41(0) 22 917 8064

For more information, please contact: postconflict@unep.org.