Guidance, Standards, and Protocols in the Humanitarian Sector on Reducing Harm to the Environment

Department For International Development

September 16
10:16 2019


The UK Government is taking a keen interest into the way that the UK can reduce its carbon emissions (Carson, 2018): this includes legislative acts (Kyoto Protocol, EU Emissions Trading Scheme) as well as national policies (Climate Change Act, The Carbon Management Plan). This rapid review highlights the tools used by different organisations during humanitarian responses in order to reduce harm to the environment as much as possible. As well as a review of UK policy, four areas of the humanitarian sector were explored for this rapid review: a). Donor governments, who may have national legislation or policies on protecting the environment (e.g. carbon emission reduction, reducing pollution, and addressing climate change); b). International standards, or specific normative frameworks; c). Individual organisations policies on environmental harm reduction, and d). Private sector environmental protocols. However, there is a dearth of literature critiquing these policies and evaluating their efficacy; practical guidelines for responsible material selection and use for government agencies, NGOs and the private sector are also rare (WWF, 2017). In terms of geographical coverage, the focus is on policies made by the industrialised world (producers of climate change) and their impact on the industrialising world (consumers). Therefore, this rapid review includes data from Europe (Danida, the European Parliament, Irish Aid, and Sida), Australia (DFAT), and USA (USAID).

K4D helpdesk reports provide summaries of current research, evidence and lessons learned. This report was commissioned by the UK Department for International Development.


Tull, K. (2019). Guidance, standards, and protocols in the humanitarian sector on reducing harm to the environment. K4D Helpdesk Report 653. Brighton, UK: Institute of Development Studies.

Guidance, Standards, and Protocols in the Humanitarian Sector on Reducing Harm to the Environment

Published 1 August 2019