Building resilience to disasters and conflicts

Learn more about our main activities in the region during the first semester of 2020.

Blog post: In Honduras, clinging to hope for a new start after two hurricanes.

All conflicts and disasters impact the environment, with consequences for human health, livelihoods and security. Environmental factors can also affect people’s basic needs and contribute to people falling into crisis.

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, or be factors in sustaining insecurity, power struggles or conflicts. Promoting the shared and harmonious use of natural resources can also be a strategy to 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

Disaster Risk Reduction

Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) corresponds to the practice of reducing disaster risk by assessing and managing the variety of factors that cause disaster. Reducing the damage caused by natural and technological hazards is possible through prevention measures -to reduce the likelihood of a disaster-, preparedness –through training exercises, risk monitoring and preparedness actions for example-, and mitigation activities -to reduce the severity of hazards through warning systems when it does occur.

Long-term recovery and environmental cooperation for peacebuilding

UNEP assists national governments through recovery programmes tailored to country-specific needs, integrating nature resource management in conflict prevention, which is essential to guarantee peace.  Since 2008, UNEP has been working to assist the Haiti with post-crisis recovery.

ROLAC contribution to global technical leadership on environment and emergencies

UNEP is developing a e-Learning on Environment and Human Mobility platform and a Global Guidance for Environment in Humanitarian Action and Response Planning, with the input of the Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean (ROLAC).

Environmental and humanitarian crisis response

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.

Political engagement

Political engagement is essential for UNEP to enhance preparedness to environmental disasters and mainstream the environment in response and recovery efforts. The Regional Environment and Emergency Preparedness Network is bringing together 10 countries of the region to exchange information and efforts on these matters.