Welcome to the second issue of our newsletter. In this issue, we tell you all about the Initiative's events during Humanitarian Networks and Partnerships Week, a yearly gathering of experts and humanitarian professionals from more than 40 networks and partnerships across the sector. We include updates and resources to manage packaging in humanitarian operations more sustainably, and invite you to share photos or videos of ongoing efforts in the field. If you missed our first issue, you can read it here—and don’t forget to subscribe and share with your colleagues! 

Join us at the Humanitarian Networks and Partnerships Week and the Logistics Cluster Global Meeting

We will be hosting two sessions during these events. The first will be a 30-minute briefing, providing an overview of who we are and what we are working towards. The second session will delve into the technical aspects of our activities and outline opportunities for collaboration.
Briefing session: 
 Working together towards more sustainable packaging waste management 

Monday 26 April 2021 | 4:45–5:15 p.m. CET | 10:45–11:15 a.m. EST

Life-saving assistance cannot leave a legacy of environmental degradation in crisis-affected parts of the world. Limited time, resources, and infrastructure frequently lead to poor packaging waste management in many humanitarian settings. Members of the Initiative will lay out why they believe taking action to address this situation is urgent; what are their plans for taking collective responsibility for packaging waste; and how they are identifying opportunities to meet this challenge. Participants will also hear more about the Initiative’s plans to work with suppliers to reduce the amount of packaging used, identify more sustainable materials, and use circular economy approaches that consider the priorities and constraints of local populations.

Technical session: 
Sustainably managing humanitarian packaging: a sector-wide approach
Friday 30 April 2021 | 3:00
4:00 p.m. CET | 09:0010:00 a.m. EST

How can humanitarian actors enhance coordination on sustainable supply chain management and improve the environmental performance of humanitarian assistance? How can humanitarian supply chain actors adopt a strategic and operational circular packaging approach to minimise negative impacts on people and the environment? This technical session will engage participants to consider these questions and will also present a strategic and operational approach on how the Initiative is beginning to tackle these issues. Participants will hear more about upcoming implementation activities and will be able to explore opportunities for collaboration and information sharing on a range of sustainable packaging topics spanning across policy, procurement, design, and end-of-life management.

The briefing and technical sessions will take place during the joint Humanitarian Networks and Partnerships Week (HNPW) and Logistics Cluster Global Meetings, which this year are taking place concurrently. 

In addition, Innovation Norway’s Humanitarian Innovation Programme will be convening a session to discuss a cross sectoral, innovation partnership approach for finding new solutions to plastic pollution in humanitarian contexts. The session will take place on Wednesday 21 April from 2:00–3:30 p.m. CET | 08:00–9:30 a.m. EST. See the event flyer.  

Led by the European Commission Humanitarian Office (ECHO) and supported by the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) and the US Agency for International Development (USAID), a donor workshop will take place on Thursday 29 April to encourage donors to set priorities and work collaboratively to address some of the most pressing environmental issues in the humanitarian sector.

For a full list of all events related to climate, environment and humanitarian action during HNPW, see a flyer prepared by the 
UN Environment Programme / United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Joint Environment Unit (UNEP/OCHA JEU)

Register here.
You will need to obtain a Virtual On-Site Operations Coordination Centre (OSOCC) account before proceeding to registration. The OSOCC is a rapid response tool that provides a platform for the coordination of international response activities in the immediate aftermath of an emergency.

HNPW will take place virtually between 19 April - 07 May 2021. Co-hosted by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) and by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), HNPW is the largest event of its kind. Its seventh edition will once again gather experts and humanitarian professionals from more than 40 participating networks and partnerships. 

The Logistics Cluster Global Meetings are held twice a year and bring together senior logisticians from humanitarian organisations at the global level. These meetings provide an opportunity to discuss the Logistics Cluster strategy and its current operations, and to present new initiatives and projects. This year, these meetings are taking place during HNPW. See below for more. 

Knowledge corner:
Using circular economy approaches to manage packaging sustainably in humanitarian operations

The Joint Initiative partners are taking a circular economy approach to identify and design its collective actions. Circular economy practices aim to eliminate waste by extending or expanding how resources are used. They align with Sustainable Development Goal 12, Sustainable Production and Consumption. Looking at packaging in humanitarian assistance means that each step in the supply chain provides an opportunity to put the materials back into productive use. 
Step 1. Design, production and procurement: Step 1 addresses the manufacturing and processes that humanitarian assistance actors undertake to acquire products from suppliers for distribution and use. 

Step 2. Distribution: Step 2 addresses the processes that humanitarian assistance actors follow to transport and disseminate food and non-food assistance to beneficiaries across the world. 

Step 3. Usage: Step 3 addresses the ability of crisis-affected populations to reuse or repurpose packaging waste for secondary applications. 

Step 4. End-of-life management: Step 4 addresses when assistance products, supplies, and packaging are no longer usable and require solid waste management efforts but can become a resource for other productive uses. 

Over the next four issues, we will highlight each of these four steps of the humanitarian assistance supply chain. Specifically, we will explore how packaging and its distribution, use, and end-of-life management can be made more sustainable and create opportunities for crisis-affected populations and how the Joint Initiative’s activities are working towards these goals.

Do not miss the next issue of this newsletter where we will look at Step 1. Design, production, and procurement.

Joint Initiative news

USAID provides over $700,000 in new funding to the Joint Initiative

USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance is contributing additional funds to this Joint Initiative, making possible the implementation of key activities, including coordination and support to members and technical projects, as well as policy, advocacy and communications to engage more stakeholders with this agenda.

Among several activities, this contribution will strengthen the Initiative’s partnership with the UNEP/OCHA JEU. It will fund a JEU-based consultant to undertake research on policies related to supply chains and humanitarian programme delivery, with a view to identify pathways for humanitarian organizations and donors to embark on more sustainable packaging management practices.

The funding is available to the Initiative through USAID’s Environmental Compliance Operational Support (ECOS) contract, which provides technical support to the Agency on environmental impact assessment, safeguarding, and climate risk management. ECOS is managed by the firm ICF, as the prime contractor. 

This contribution was provided as part of the US Government’s renewed commitment to environmental stewardship and climate justice in humanitarian contexts. 

Technical coordination working group agrees work plan

Members of the Initiative’s technical coordination working group met for the first time on 9 April 2021 to discuss 13 activities being undertaken to make progress towards a more sustainable management of packaging waste in humanitarian operations. All activities are led by members, with support from the Initiative’s core project team. The activities include:

  • Developing sustainable packaging requirements for guidelines, policies, regulatory requirements, funding applications and project proposals
  • Identifying best packaging practices for environmentally sustainable procurement
  • Mapping of available waste management infrastructure in operating countries
  • Developing and piloting packaging end-of-life management technology  

The working group provides in-kind technical support and strategic guidance to the core project team, which is responsible for the day-to-day implementation of the Initiative’s activities. More updates will be provided on these and other activities in future issues of this newsletter. 

Danish Refugee Council joins the Initiative
Man walking in Moira Camp
Credit: Michael Graversen, DRC 2019

The Initiative welcomes the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) as a partner. The DRC will be part of the Steering Committee, which is tasked with making strategic decisions about the Initiative’s activities. In addition, DRC will lead the Initiative’s work to identify "green packaging" specifications for tender contracts, with a focus on increasing the environmental sustainability of packaging used in humanitarian operations. The Initiative now has 18 partners from across governmental agencies, the UN system, and non-governmental organizations.

Initiative updates the Environment and Humanitarian Action Network (EHAN)

The Initiative will participate in EHAN’s Annual Meeting on 20 April 2021 and will update the Network’s members on progress and planned activities. A study undertaken by the London School of Economics on packaging waste in humanitarian operations will also be presented. See below for more information about the study.

Show us how you are managing packaging waste in your operations!

The Initiative invites all of our partners and newsletter readers to submit photos or videos showing examples of projects or technologies that help make the management of humanitarian assistance packaging more sustainable. These may be examples of partnerships between humanitarian organizations, community groups, local enterprises, or other innovators. We will profile the best entries in future issues of this newsletter and through social media.

Please send your submissions, including a short description and attribution information, to

News and resources 

New report: Waste Not, Want Not.

Cover page of the Waste Not, Want Not report by London School of Economics.. The London School of Economics (LSE) and the UNEP/OCHA JEU have published Waste Not, Want Not. Investigating how to tackle the burden of humanitarian assistance packaging waste in crisis-prone areas. The report identifies the challenges faced by host countries – Yemen and Iraq – in two different crisis stages – emergency and recovery – and makes recommendations to decrease the social and environmental impacts caused by packaging waste from humanitarian assistance. The report focuses on the empowerment of local communities, private sector, and governments, to strengthen sustainable end-of-life waste management. 

Several Initiative partners contributed to this study. USAID's Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance provided advice during the research stages, working closely with the LSE and JEU. The study is a resource to anyone looking for context-specific ways to manage packaging waste in humanitarian contexts more sustainably. The Initiative plans to undertake more research on country and crisis level waste management infrastructure and capacity in the future. View the report

The Logistics Cluster Global Meeting is fast approaching!Logistics Cluster Global Meeting print

Credit: Global Logistics Cluster 2021.

Twice a year, the Logistics Cluster Global Meeting brings together an extensive community of partners across borders and time zones. This meeting provides a forum to discuss gaps, suggest solutions, and examine existing best practices in humanitarian logistics. 

The first meeting of 2021 will run from 26-28 April 2021, followed by two days of ‘marketplace’ sessions on 29 and 30 April, which will introduce key topics and projects from partner organizations. This year, the meeting will coincide with HNPW (see lead story) to cultivate synergies on logistics and supply chain-related issues. 

To register, visit the HNPW portal. All sessions can be found under the ‘networks’ section in the portal. French interpretation will be provided.

European Innovation Council launches ‘accelerator’ to fund breakthrough innovations

The accelerator will support start-ups and small and medium enterprises to develop and scale-up innovations that accelerate the transition to a green and digital economy. Applications are open to innovators who are developing greening solutions for the humanitarian field, including packaging waste management technologies and other innovations. Grants and investments are available. The deadline for receiving applications is 9 June 2021. More information. 

Coming soon: Circular Economy-focused Private Sector Landscape Assessment  

USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance has begun a project to identify market-based opportunities, such as local industries and enterprises, to repurpose or recycle packaging produced in large-scale humanitarian assistance operations. The project will look for these opportunities in Sub-Saharan, especially East Africa, with an additional focus on two or three countries that receive humanitarian assistance from USAID. USAID will be working with the international development consulting firm Resonance on this project. A final report will be shared in this newsletter later this year.

For more information, contact: 

Interested in finding out more? Subscribe to this newsletter!
Or get in touch! Our email address is:
Managing packaging waste sustainably in the humanitarian sector is too great a challenge for any single organisation. For this reason, the partners of the Joint Initiative for Sustainable Humanitarian Assistance Packaging Waste Management are working together to make the humanitarian community’s packaging waste management more environmentally and socially responsible, through collaboration, pooling resources, and sharing knowledge and good practices.
The Joint Initiative’s partners include:

This newsletter is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of the Joint Initiative for Sustainable Humanitarian Packaging Waste Management and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.

This email was sent to <<Email Address>>
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences
Joint Initiative for Sustainable Humanitarian Packaging Waste Management · 9300 Lee Hwy · Fairfax, VA 22031-6050 · USA

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp