International Cooperation addressing Environmental Emergencies under the auspices of UN-OCHA

The United Nations Environment Programme/Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Joint Environment Unit (JEU), also known as the UNEP/OCHA Joint Environment Unit, is housed within OCHA’s Emergency Services Branch in Geneva. Founded in 1994, it helps Member States prepare for and respond to environmental dimensions of emergencies.

The Environmental Emergencies Centre (EEC) is a one-stop-shop of information relevant to the preparedness, prevention and response stages of an environmental emergency. EEC strengthens the preparedness capacities of responders and humanitarians, allowing users to build on their own mechanisms and to draw on the resources and services of EEC partners. The Environmental Emergencies Centre is hosted by the UNEP/OCHA JEU.

The International Wildfire Preparedness Mechanism (IWPM) is currently hosted by the Global Fire Monitoring Center (GFMC) – a non-financial instrument serving as a broker / facilitator between national and international agencies, programmes and projects to exchange expertise and build capacities in wildland fire management and particularly in enhancing preparedness to large wildfire emergency situations. The IWPM has been developed in tandem with the International Fire Aviation Guidelines and the International Manual of Common Rules for Fire Aviation.

The GFMC is offering a number of tools that may either be used directly online or be requested for implementation by interested parties:

During the World Summit for Sustainable Development (WSSD) a major initiative led by UNEP-OCHA was launched to increase international cooperation in the field of prevention, preparedness, and response to environmental disasters. From the beginning, wildland fire issues have been included.

The UNEP-OCHA Strategic Advisory Group on Environmental Emergencies (AGEE) at its 5th meeting in May 2003 decided to utilize the Partnership Programme to enhance international cooperation in wildland fire management.

At the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development Rio+20, the Global Wildland Fire Network became part of the initiative to create a global network of local actors for preparedness for environmental emergencies. Under the headline Preparedness for Environmental Emergencies the following organizations are working together:

International Agreements
At the FAO/ITTO International Expert Meeting on Forest Fire Management, Rome, Italy, 7-9 March 2001, it was decided to conduct a survey and evaluation of existing agreements on cooperation in fire management, including international wildland fire emergency assistance.

Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre (EADRCC)
The Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre (EADRCC) was created in 1998 as the focal point for coordinating disaster relief efforts of the 46 Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) nations in case of natural or technological disasters within the EAPC geographical area. The GFMC is linked to EADRCC.

Evaluation of Cooperative Efforts
The following document provides a review of the Australia/New Zealand firefighting deployment to the USA in August/September 2000

Related International Events
The results of the International Wildland Fire Summit (Sydney, Australia, 8 October 2003) include international agreements / recommendations on common protocols and procedures for the international cooperation in wildland fire

International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG)
Historic cooperation between GFMC / GWFN and INSARAG – under revision again in 2023

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