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World Environment Day 2021


Credit: UNEP/OCHA Joint Environment Unit
To mark World Environment Day on June 5, USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance featured a story about the Joint Initiative for Sustainable Humanitarian Assistance Packaging Waste Management (the Initiative), explaining how our partners work to tackle the environmental problem of unintended waste produced by humanitarian operations. Read the story “Three Ways the Humanitarian Story is Going Green While Saving Lives” on the USAID Saves Lives Medium page.

Initiative News

Reviewing NEAT+ for Packaging Waste

The Initiative is reviewing the Nexus Environmental Assessment Tool, known as NEAT+, from a packaging waste perspective. NEAT+ was specifically designed to address the needs of humanitarian actors and provide a creative and practical approach to integrating more sustainable environmental practices into humanitarian aid. The revised tool will make it possible for humanitarians to understand the environmental sensitivities related to packaging waste as well as the impact of operations on waste generation, and to implement mitigation measures. For more information, contact

Credit: UNEP/OCHA Joint Environment Unit

Toward a Packaging Sustainability Criteria List 
Led by Initiative partner the Danish Refugee Council (DRC), work has commenced to develop a sustainability criteria list for tender contracts related to packaging in humanitarian operations. The list will specify 'green packaging' options, including ways to minimize packaging. For more information and to get involved, contact
New Partner: CCCM Joins the Initiative
The Initiative welcomes the Global Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) Cluster as a partner. CCCM will be contributing to several of the Initiative’s activities, such as guidance notes on international and national policies governing plastic use and on market-based opportunities for secondary uses of packaging, among others.

Steering Committee Meets for the First Time 

A core group of senior representatives from each of the Initiative’s partner organizations make up our Steering Committee. They guide the work of the Core Project Team and the Technical Coordination Working Group, as well as voluntary peer-review groups and subject matter experts engaged in the Initiative. During its first meeting in early July, the Steering Committee reviewed progress made to date, particularly the activities that have commenced, such as the packaging sustainability criteria list. The committee also discussed climate issues, shared progress from their respective organizations, and reiterated their support for the Initiative. 

Joint Initiative Phase 1 Awarded by the International Association for Impact Assessment

The first phase of the Initiative has received the International Association for Impact Assessment’s 2020 Institutional Award for its effectiveness in bringing together a wide range of environmental and humanitarian organizations. The Initiative was recognized for marshalling humanitarian actors to update the Rapid Impact Assessment in Disasters Tool, develop NEAT+, and help to improve the integration of impact assessment through the Environment and Humanitarian Action Network.

Joint Initiative at Humanitarian Networks and Partnerships Week

The Initiative cohosted two events during this year’s Humanitarian Networks and Partnerships Week (HNPW). Catch up with these sessions and find out more about the Initiative’s planned activities and what our partners are doing to manage packaging waste more sustainably.
Briefing session: Session summary | Video (30-minute introduction)
Technical session: Session summary | Video (60-minute working session)
In addition, Innovation Norway, organized a session about plastic pollution in humanitarian operations, where several Initiative partners presented their work. Watch: video.

New Team Member: Samantha Brangeon

The Initiative team welcomes Samantha Brangeon, who will be focusing on policy related to packaging and supply chains. She will undertake a multi-donor landscape analysis on policies related to sustainable supply chain and a guidance note on international and national legislation governing plastic use.
Samantha has been working on the links between humanitarian aid and the environment for seven years, including research on the impacts of humanitarian operations on the environment. She's the author of the Compendium of Good Practices for a Greener Humanitarian Response. She has worked in humanitarian settings in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, South Sudan, and Sri Lanka. She can be reached at

Partner News

Taking Action: The Save the Children Sustainability Pledge 

Earlier this year, Save the Children International’s Supply Chain function committed to elevating social, economic, and environmental sustainability to the core of its own and its suppliers' ways of working and of making decisions. A significant first step was asking all supply chain staff members to sign up for the Sustainable Supply Chains Pledge to support sustainability objectives through supply chains across Save the Children International, which comprises 29 national member organizations working in 120 countries.

The pledge focuses on three key pillars:

  • Social. Verify that suppliers treat their respective staff members well and identify ways to reduce discrimination in supply chains.
  • Economic. Award contracts fairly and opt for local suppliers, where possible, to bring local economic uplift.
  • Environmental. Reduce carbon footprint, waste, and water pollution, and avoid the more-polluting raw materials.

Over the next 12 months, staff across the movement will receive resources, materials, and training to do the following:

  • Work with more diverse local suppliers to support local economies and build local suppliers’ capacity.
  • Use vehicles more effectively and, where possible, use vehicles that are more environmentally efficient to minimise carbon footprint.
  • Reduce the volume of goods transported by air freight.
  • Evaluate suppliers on sustainability criteria, in addition to commercial and other criteria.

To date, 384 supply chain staff have signed this pledge, including country and regional directors. In addition to training, next steps include updating the supplier sustainability policy and developing a sustainability performance reporting framework. For more information, contact

Taking Action: ICRC Makes Kitchenware More Sustainable

Previously at ICRC, each kitchenware item, as well as other widely distributed products such as tarpaulins and jerrycans, was distributed inside a plastic bag (see left). Upon shifting to cardboard packaging for all of these items (see right), the International Committee of the Red Cross has saved 53 tonnes of plastic in only one year. These savings amount to 14 million fewer plastic bags each year—which is enough bags to cover an area equivalent to 250 soccer fields!

DG ECHO’s Policy Support Budget Backs Initiative Activities  
The European Union’s Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (DG ECHO) has published its Enhanced Response Capacity Humanitarian Implementation Plan, which includes €3.5 million (US$ 4.1 million) for greening humanitarian action and anticipatory action priorities, now open to applications.
The plan makes an explicit reference to the Initiative and welcomes applications that support the following Initiative activities:
  • Conducting life cycle assessments/commodity assessments of the highest volume of packaging items or most commonly delivered items per country or region.
  • Creating a database or catalogue of sustainable packaging technologies and options, including biodegradable materials, plastic alternatives, and distribution options
For more information, visit ECHO’s Financing Decisions page or contact by September 15, 2021.

Research: Market-based Opportunities for Packaging Repurposing and Recycling 

As previously reported, USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance and consulting firm Resonance are researching market-based opportunities for repurposing or recycling packaging produced in humanitarian assistance operations, mainly in East Africa. Early findings show potential opportunities for the private sector in transportation and local investment, and in creating connections between recycling actors and markets. Challenges uncovered include the cost of logistics, volatile demand for recycled products, and the political economy of informal waste collection. A final report will be shared in this newsletter later this year. For more information, contact, in the Private Sector Engagement Team at USAID.

Climate and Environment Charter Opens for Signatures

The new Climate and Environment Charter for Humanitarian Organizations has been launched and is now open for signatures from all humanitarian organizations. Donors and other organizations can also sign as supporters of the charter. Signers will be listed in the Charter publication at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November 2021. Initiative partners, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies led the charter development process. For more information, contact

Knowledge Corner: 

Using circular economy approaches to manage packaging sustainably in humanitarian operations
Step 1: Design, Production, and Procurement
Step 1, Design, Production, and Procurement, of the circular economy approach is all about working to reduce the problem at the source. Humanitarian assistance will inevitably create waste, and even the best recycling or disposal practices will not be enough to manage sustainably the packaging waste of humanitarian operations. 

For this reason, we need to work with suppliers and innovators to come up with better practices and materials. For example, we can design-out waste and pollution from products by prioritizing durability, repair, and reuse to prolong the lifespan of products. This means sourcing materials that are both durable and renewable.

We also need the right processes in place, so organizations can purchase more sustainably packaged products and get them to the people who need them, when they need them. 

The Initiative’s activities are working on practical tools to make it possible for humanitarians to introduce Step 1 into their supply chains. Contact for more information. 

Look for the spotlight on Step 2. Distribution in the next issue of this newsletter. 
News, Resources, and Events
Funding Opportunities from the European Union
Horizon Europe—the European Union’s research and development funding program—is now receiving applications for projects related to packaging waste management in the following humanitarian contexts:

Compendium of Good Practices for a Greener Humanitarian Response Published

The European Commission published a new Compendium of Good Practices for a Greener Humanitarian Response in June. The compendium includes a series of case studies to help organizations that implement humanitarian programs understand how to reduce their environmental footprint.  
The Compendium includes a case study about the World Food Programme’s experience setting up partnerships with waste recycling companies to manage the solid waste generated by its operations. The document is also available in French.

Initiative Presents at Sustainable Procurement Network June Meeting 
The Initiative’s objectives and planned activities were shared with representatives from approximately 20 United Nations (UN) organizations, including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), as part of a recent meeting of the UN Sustainable Procurement Network. The network is led by UNOPS and UNEP and gathers UN agencies to improve the way in which goods and services are procured, from a sustainability perspective.
GEDAE 2021: Waste Management and Ecological Sanitation
Groupe URD and Cefrepade, a francophone research institute, are organizing a three half-day conferences on waste management and ecological sanitation in developing and crisis-affected territories. The event, Gestion des déchets et assainissement écologique or GEDAE 2021, will be held online on 8–10 September 2021. The Initiative and the Initiative’s partner Danish Refugee Council will be participating. For more information, contact
Joint Initiative at HELIX ASEAN Forum
The Initiative presented at the recent Humanitarian and Emergency Logistics Innovation Expo (HELIX) Forum aimed at humanitarian practitioners based in countries that are part of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Catch up with the session here: Video.
Disaster Waste Management Guidelines Available Online
The Guidelines are once again available on the Environmental Emergencies Centre website, following a minor revision period focused on making the guidelines suitable for digital use. A more comprehensive update will be carried out by the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) at a date not yet specified. For more information, contact

Background Resources 

Sustainability in Humanitarian Supply Chains: A Preliminary Scoping of Improvements in Packaging

Fact Sheet for the Joint Initiative for Sustainable Humanitarian Packaging Waste Management

EHA Connect: Materials & Supply Chain 

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 organization. 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.
Copyright © 2021 Joint Initiative for Sustainable Humanitarian Packaging Waste Management, All rights reserved.

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