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Mainstreaming the environment within humanitarian operations: Identifying key factors for effective implementation of a green approach to procurement within the International Federation of the Red Cross

Hromas, Lindy LU (2017) VBRM15 20171
Division of Risk Management and Societal Safety
Abstract
Each year millions of people receive emergency relief items from humanitarian organizations following disasters and crises. While significant time and resources have been invested in identifying the needs of affected populations and how to address those needs, significantly less focus has been given to environmental impacts of these response operations. These impacts can result in substantial negative outcomes, causing harm to the same populations humanitarian organizations are attempting to serve. In response, humanitarian organizations have developed environmental mainstreaming approaches to mitigate these unintended impacts. However, academic literature has given little focus to environmental impacts of humanitarian operations or their... (More)
Each year millions of people receive emergency relief items from humanitarian organizations following disasters and crises. While significant time and resources have been invested in identifying the needs of affected populations and how to address those needs, significantly less focus has been given to environmental impacts of these response operations. These impacts can result in substantial negative outcomes, causing harm to the same populations humanitarian organizations are attempting to serve. In response, humanitarian organizations have developed environmental mainstreaming approaches to mitigate these unintended impacts. However, academic literature has given little focus to environmental impacts of humanitarian operations or their prevention. While there are several entry points to investigating these environmental impacts and possible interventions, this thesis examines procurement of emergency relief items, with a specific purpose of exploring implementation of a green approach to procurement. These research aims were pursued through a case study of the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC), and relied on collection and analysis of literature and expert interviews with Red Cross procurement practitioners and private-sector suppliers. Results indicate several key factors considered by these experts as needed for implementation of a green approach to procurement. Findings include several implications for realizing organizational and operational change; and additionally identify potential roles a supplier can play in a move toward green procurement. While practical implications are directed toward implementation of an environmental mainstreaming approach within the IFRC, findings identify some overlap with existing studies, which could indicate relevance within a greater humanitarian context. (Less)
Popular Abstract
Each year millions of people receive emergency relief items from humanitarian organizations following disasters, such as earthquakes and hurricanes. While significant time and resources have been invested in identifying the needs of affected populations and how to address those needs, significantly less focus has been given to environmental impacts of these response operations. This research explores environmental impacts of emergency relief items in the field, and identifies key considerations for implementing an approach to procurement of these relief items to prevent negative environmental impacts.

In 2015, 4.3 million people received non-food emergency relief items from the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC). This... (More)
Each year millions of people receive emergency relief items from humanitarian organizations following disasters, such as earthquakes and hurricanes. While significant time and resources have been invested in identifying the needs of affected populations and how to address those needs, significantly less focus has been given to environmental impacts of these response operations. This research explores environmental impacts of emergency relief items in the field, and identifies key considerations for implementing an approach to procurement of these relief items to prevent negative environmental impacts.

In 2015, 4.3 million people received non-food emergency relief items from the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC). This included items such as tarpaulins, jerry cans, kitchen sets, mosquito nets and hygiene kits, designed to meet individuals’ basic needs following a disaster. Primary environmental impacts associated with these relief items are linked to locational waste management issues, which can lead to unintended emissions to the air, land, and water through the improper incineration and disposal of hazardous and other materials. What all of these impacts have in common is the potential to result in negative environmental outcomes that cause further harm to the same people humanitarian organizations are attempting to serve. Therefore, humanitarian organizations face a significant challenge of how to prevent these negative environmental outcomes while still upholding their primary responsibility to save and protect lives.

While there are several entry points to investigating these environmental impacts and possible interventions, this research examines procurement of emergency relief items as procurement is noted to have reach throughout the humanitarian supply chain. In other words, decisions made by a humanitarian organization, like the Red Cross, concerning what items to purchase to provide relief to people impacted by a disaster influence environmental impacts starting with raw material extraction to create the products all the way to disposal of the products in the field. Specifically, this thesis investigates implementation of a green (environmental) approach to procurement within the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement, and seeks to answer the following questions: Do the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies currently consider environmental factors in their relief efforts; and, how can the IFRC and Red Crescent National Societies effectually implement a green approach to procurement?

This research was pursued through a case study of the IFRC, and relied on collection and analysis of literature and interviews with Red Cross procurement experts and private-sector relief item suppliers. Results indicate that while environmental considerations, such as the reduction or elimination of packaging, are currently included in procurement practice within the IFRC, efforts are extremely piecemeal as there is not yet a formal approach to inclusion of the environment across the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement. Red Cross procurement experts specified several key considerations for implementation of an environmental approach to procurement, which included implications for significant change within the organization and along the supply chain. Results also identified roles suppliers can play in greening of the humanitarian supply chain, indicating a need for humanitarian organizations to select suppliers based on their organization’s environmental goals. Analysis of these results lead to a list of twelve key considerations for how the IFRC and Red Crescent Societies can implement a green approach to procurement. This lengthy list indicates the complex nature of integration of the environment within an organization and its operations.

While practical implications of this research are directed toward the inclusion of the environment within humanitarian response operations within the IFRC, findings identify some overlap with existing academic studies, which could indicate relevance within a wider humanitarian context. This research has additionally started to narrow the gap in academic literature addressing humanitarian operations and connected environmental impacts, as well as highlighted further opportunities for research. (Less)
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author
Hromas, Lindy LU
supervisor
organization
course
VBRM15 20171
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
environmental mainstreaming, green procurement, humanitarian logistics, environmental impact, humanitarian supply chain, greening
language
English
id
8928485
date added to LUP
2017-11-21 08:50:49
date last changed
2017-11-21 08:50:49
@misc{8928485,
  abstract     = {Each year millions of people receive emergency relief items from humanitarian organizations following disasters and crises. While significant time and resources have been invested in identifying the needs of affected populations and how to address those needs, significantly less focus has been given to environmental impacts of these response operations. These impacts can result in substantial negative outcomes, causing harm to the same populations humanitarian organizations are attempting to serve. In response, humanitarian organizations have developed environmental mainstreaming approaches to mitigate these unintended impacts. However, academic literature has given little focus to environmental impacts of humanitarian operations or their prevention. While there are several entry points to investigating these environmental impacts and possible interventions, this thesis examines procurement of emergency relief items, with a specific purpose of exploring implementation of a green approach to procurement. These research aims were pursued through a case study of the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC), and relied on collection and analysis of literature and expert interviews with Red Cross procurement practitioners and private-sector suppliers. Results indicate several key factors considered by these experts as needed for implementation of a green approach to procurement. Findings include several implications for realizing organizational and operational change; and additionally identify potential roles a supplier can play in a move toward green procurement. While practical implications are directed toward implementation of an environmental mainstreaming approach within the IFRC, findings identify some overlap with existing studies, which could indicate relevance within a greater humanitarian context.},
  author       = {Hromas, Lindy},
  keyword      = {environmental mainstreaming,green procurement,humanitarian logistics,environmental impact,humanitarian supply chain,greening},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Mainstreaming the environment within humanitarian operations: Identifying key factors for effective implementation of a green approach to procurement within the International Federation of the Red Cross},
  year         = {2017},
}