The environmental and climate crises threaten the survival of humanity now and in the future. To take our responsibility towards the ones already suffering by the ongoing crisis, the Swedish Red Cross (SRC) initiated the now Movement-wide concept of Green Response to improve the environmental sustainability of our humanitarian work. Green Response is an approach in which we consider the environmental impacts of our activities and take steps to avoid, reduce and manage negative impacts while enhancing positive ones.
Please scroll down this page for information specifically referring to GR and Sustainability Platform Bronze, Silver and Gold Levels, in addition to Green Response resources and tools.
Fact box: Green Response in numbers
40 % increase of patients when a Syrian PHC facility was solarized. Source: SARC
80 L diesel/day saved by shifting to solar power for water supply in Cox’s Bazar camp 18 (except during the Monsoon). Source: SRC
15000 L treated sludge/day is the capacity of SRC’s chemical- and fuel-free fecal sludge treatment plant in Cox’s Bazaar. Source: SRC
40-90 % cost reduction for solar power when compared to diesel generators for water pumping. Source: GLOWSI reviewing 170 solar water systems
0 to 4 years cost recovery for solar power investments vs diesel technology for water pumping. Source: GLOWSI reviewing 170 solar water systems
While life-saving interventions remain the focus of our activities, Green Response extends the principle of ‘do no harm’ to the environment and ecosystems that communities rely on, ensuring that life-saving interventions today should not negatively affect communities in the future.
Green Response in emergencies
- SRC seeks every opportunity to move away from fossil fuel dependency into clean energy in emergencies. The payback period for solar panels is now only a few years in most of our prioritized countries.
- We apply Green response in our WaSH interventions, eg. by ensuring the water balance is considered when pumping from local groundwater aquifers, practicing solar pumping, implementing water conservation practices such as rainwater harvesting, safe excreta management without chemicals, sustainable and local material for latrine construction, and awareness raising activities on waste management.
- Green response in our health interventions means eg. solar energy provision to health facilities increasing the number of patients, while saving costs and emissions by changing from diesel generators. Other areas to be explored are proper waste management around the facilities including medical waste and green gardens for mental health and shading.
- Logistics in a Green response way is to include environmental considerations into the whole logistic supply chain from procurement requirements on third-party suppliers, packaging, transportation (prepositioning with ocean shipment instead of air freight), as well as looking into the durability and the disposal of products. The SRC project Ready to Respond supports and capacitates NSs to do their inventory, mobilize and maintain existing emergency WaSH equipment and materials for quick deployment reducing the unnecessary purchasing of chemicals or new equipment. Instead, RtR champions opting for rehabilitation, repurposing, reselling and recycling. There is an emphasis on local and domestic preparedness for responses reducing the environmental impact associated with procuring and shipping materials from farther distances ie. globally or regionally. By ensuring these processes and procedures are in place, we ultimately reduce impact on the environment.
Green Response in community-based resilience projects
- SRC has developed and applied an environmental approach to inform and design our long-term (>3 years) resilience projects. The approach builds on existing tools and will ensure that a project is climate-smart and explores the project potential positive and negative environmental impact together with mitigation measures to reduce negative impact. A GR advisor will support in the process.
- Green Response is closely linked to DRR by integrating climate and environmental considerations into disaster preparedness, response, and recovery. SRC seeks opportunities to include Nature-based Solutions (NbS) whenever suitable to address communities’ needs. Examples of NbS are tree and grass planting for soil stabilisation, household fruit trees for shading and fruits, green roofs and rooftop gardening to tackle heat waves and support livelihood opportunities, Mangrove plantation to reduce the risk of coastal flooding etc.
Strengthening National Societies’ Green Response capacity
- SRC supports other NS in conducting self-assessments of its Green Response capacity. SRC has developed a self-assessment tool which feeds into a NS development action plan.
- SRC was one of the first within the Movement to start with carbon accounting and waste reduction and recycling activities, and can support other NS to move their internal greening forward.
- GR advisors are supporting NSs with capacity strengthening activities such as trainings and sensitisation sessions on climate change, Green Response, and environmental assessments. SRC in-country officers with a strong Green Response experience are also doing peer-to-peer support to other NS on Green Response best practices.
Green Response is a mainstreaming approach, like PGI and CEA, which means it should be integrated across all our interventions. It means that SRC is not doing environmental projects per se, instead, SRC seeks opportunities to integrate environmentally-friendly activities, whenever possible, to contribute to the objectives of a response or a project. The aim is always to reduce the negative, and increase the positive impacts on the planet.
Green Response Sustainability Platform
1.1 Green Response Project Cycle
The project cycle was created out of the need to better merge Green Response into programme management, and support PMER methods within project development. It is also a good tool to be used by different project team members, operating at different times of the project cycle, to understand where and how their work can mainstream environmental sustainability. It is important to note that each of the relevant tools may require some training, and it might also be useful to include the tools, and their application, as part of a wider Green Response Action plan, or Theory of Change, which is part of the Gold Level process of the sustainability Platform.
1.2 Bronze Level
To fulfil the Swedish Red Cross’s Minimum Environmental Standards, there are 2 requirements that must be fulfilled, if we refer to the Green Response Project Cycle above, you will see that the Bronze Level adheres to using Green Response tools within the Needs Assessment.
The requirements are in the "Assessment" phase of the Sustainability Platform, and refer both to the Needs Assessment as well as the Environmental Risk Assessment. More information can be found here:
Attached to each requirement there are tools, and these can be found by finding the Sustainability Platform on RedNET (same link as above)
- Every project should include a Green Response Budget line within the Sustainabilty Platform. This budget can be used for a variety of things, if a NS is in the early stages of Green Response, this budget can be used for trainings, development of tools, management change trainings, NEAT+ or environmental assessments etc. If an NS is further along in their journey, this budget can be used for Greener Procurement e.g. to meet the gap between the cheaper item, and the more ‘green’ item, it can be used to do carbon calculations of the project or to hire a local environmental expert for screening or improving project activity sustainability etc.
- It is advised to speak to your Green Response adviser to understand the more effective and impactful way of using this budget.
1.3 Silver Level
Stepping up from the Bronze level, and building upon the requirements, the Silver Level focuses on further mainstreaming Green Response and Environmental Sustainability across programmes and project activities.
Looking at the GR Project Cycle, Silver Level would mean that almost all stages of a programme cycle would include Green Response elements.
Other requirements to meet Silver Level
- There is a Green Response Budget that also includes elements of carbon calculation, and a carbon mitigation plan, perhaps with a further carbon insetting activity
- The organisatonal level of Green Response has been explored e.g. conversations for GR expand just a unit or project and instead begin playing a wider role in the culture of the organization.
1.4 Gold Level
Once the programme level requirements are fulfilled, Gold Level refers to the other two areas in which Green Response operates:
- Logistics and Procurement
- Institutional Greening
There are aspects of these areas within the programme & operational level, therefore they are included within the Silver Level, however in the Gold Level, the commitment to Green Response is further elaborated, and is included within the Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning cycles of the entire organization.
Developed tools to support fulfilling Gold level
- Green Response Self-Assessment tool and workshop
- Carried out together with a GR Advisor, or specialist
- Climate & Environmental Charter for Humanitarian Organisations
- Full implementation, including setting baseline, targets and M&E
- GR Advisor at NS level
- Inclusion of GR budget in all projects (not just SRC funded)
- Regular training for all staff, including surge and pool in environmental sustainability
- Emergency Environmental Field Advisor deployment, where necessary.