Building resilience to disasters and conflicts

All conflicts and disasters impact the environment, with consequences for human health, livelihoods and security.

Ecosystems can be buffers against the impacts of natural hazards - for example mangroves reducing the impact of tsunami waves on populations. The environment also suffers from the impact of disasters, when drought or forest fires cause environmental degradation or when an industrial accident causes dangerous pollution.

Natural resources can be the reasons why conflicts break out. Promoting the shared and harmonious use of natural resources can also be a strategy to reduce local conflict and contribute to lasting peace.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has responded to disasters in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Turks and Caicos Islands, Uruguay and Venezuela.

UNEP has also facilitated important disaster risk reduction work in Haiti, Colombia, Brazil, Peru and Argentina.

Programmes and projects

Ecosystem-based Disaster Risk Reduction

UNEP works to promote environment as a disaster risk reduction solution - promoting ecosystem-based approaches such as river basin management, coastal zone management and protected area management as a means to reduce disaster risk and build resilience of vulnerable communities and countries.

Environmental Cooperation for Peacebuilding

UNEP aims to use environmental cooperation to transform the risks of conflicts over resources into opportunities for stability and peacebuilding. Natural resources often play a role in fuelling conflicts, undermining peacebuilding efforts and contributing to a relapse in conflict if they are not properly managed.

Preparedness for environmental and technological emergencies

Environmental emergencies can cause severe environmental damage as well as loss of human lives and property. They result from natural, technological or human-induced factors, or a combination of these. Preparing for these events is essential in order to reduce impacts on human health and the environment, and to allow a more effective response and recovery.

Post-crisis environmental assessment

Field-based assessments of the environmental impacts of crises on human health, livelihoods and security form the core of UNEP’s conflict and disaster management operations. Through its Joint Environment Unit with the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, UNEP mobilises and coordinates the international emergency response and identification of acute environmental risks caused by conflicts, disasters and industrial accidents.

Post-crisis environmental recovery

UNEP is available to assist national governments to address environmental priorities through recovery programmes that are tailored to country-specific needs, following a post-crisis environmental assessment. UN Environment seeks to help countries to manage their natural resources and use them for sustainable long-term recovery after a disaster or conflict.