Another highlight of the past few months of work within the programme in relation to the pandemic is the production of a special bulletin on the environmental dimensions of the COVID-19 emergency in the region. The piece explored how a number of environmental factors, such as wildfires and poor air quality, have contributed to increase the vulnerability of people in the Latin American and Caribbean region. It also highlighted the specific vulnerabilities of certain populations to coronavirus and its environmental determinants, including indigenous peoples, women and children, populations in situation of human mobility and those living in informal settlements. Lastly, it analysed the environmental impacts of the response measures which have been taken, providing propositions to mitigate negative impacts. The bulletin is shared with UN agencies, humanitarian and environmental agencies and has informed the analysis of other actors such as UNOCC.
The introductory webinar on Camp Coordination and Camp Management which took place on 11th June attracted 494 and featured presentations on general CCCM frameworks, life cycle and types of shelters, gender-based violence prevention, reproductive health, prevention and treatment of HIV in situations of emergency. UN Environment was asked to facilitate a session on the environmental implications of shelter management throughout the shelter life cycle, by setting out the environmental prevention and mitigation measures to implement from conception to closure of a shelter.
The second webinar took place on 18th June on roles and responsibilities in shelters in the COVID-19 context, with 675 participants. On 25th June, the third webinar focused on the norms and design of shelters and its adaptation to COVID-19, with presentations on planning, including choosing the right location for a shelter and physical distancing measures, minimum standards for water and sanitation, protocols of action in the face of suspected COVID-19 cases and how to integrate gender considerations. UNEP also gave a presentation during this webinar, reaching its 521 participants, on best practices for waste management in shelters, especially healthcare waste in the face of COVID-19.
The last webinar of 2nd July gathered 452 attendants and centred on community participation and risk communication, featuring another session led by UNEP on participation with an environmental lens. This presentation discussed the need to include the beneficiaries but also host communities in the key decisions with environmental implications for the shelter, to prevent potential conflicts and tensions as much as possible within the community. It also discussed how the shelter and its activities can benefit the community, and how to avoid generating burdens for the local authorities.
Overall, this series of webinars was attended by participants from 27 countries, 17% being from governmental organisations, 42% from the Red Cross, 22% from the United Nations, 8% from international NGOs, 8% from local NGOs, 2% from academia, 1% from religious organisations, 1% from donor organisations, 1% from the private sector.
Since shelter and camp responses often have a significant environmental impact which have been accentuated with COVID-19 waste, these webinars have been important to influence policies and practice in the region.