Geneva, September 2, 2013 – World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the American Red Cross (ARC) have been awarded the prestigious Green Star Award for their Green Recovery and Reconstruction Training Toolkit (GRRT), a groundbreaking program designed to increase awareness and knowledge of environmentally responsible disaster response approaches.
The Green Star Award, a joint initiative between the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Green Cross International and the UN Environment Programme, recognizes those who have made remarkable efforts to prevent, prepare for, and respond to environmental disasters around the world. It will be awarded during Green Cross International’s 20th Anniversary events on Sept. 2 at the International Conference Center of Geneva.
“Receiving this award is a tremendous honor and a testament to the efforts of WWF and the American Red Cross to improve disaster response and help communities around the world become more resilient to future disasters,” said Marcia Marsh, WWF Chief Operating Officer.
The framework for the Green Recovery and Reconstruction Toolkit was created by World Wildlife Fund and American Red Cross eight years ago, in response to one of the worst natural disasters ever – the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami that killed 230,000 people and destroyed hundreds of coastal communities. Most recently, the training has been incorporated into reconstruction efforts and programming in Haiti.
The two organizations combined their respective expertise and developed a step-by-step guide to help communities devastated by disasters build back safer by factoring environmental conditions into the recovery and reconstruction phase. The goal is to help communities become more environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable – and less vulnerable – than they were before the disaster.
"Ensuring communities not only recover from disasters, but build a more resilient and safer environment for the future is a priority," said Harold Brooks, Senior Vice President, International Operations, American Red Cross. "We are excited and grateful for this award recognizing our work with World Wildlife Fund to ensure environmental recovery and sustainability after disasters."
The GRRT is made of ten modules which are designed to be delivered in a one-day training workshop. Each GRRT module package includes a trainer’s guide; training materials for a workshop; PowerPoint slides; a technical content paper that provides background information for the training; and additional resources for further study.
Although disasters wreak havoc, the rebuilding efforts that follow represent a significant and important opportunity to restore communities in a more environmentally and socially sustainable way. Humanitarians, conservation practitioners, government officials, local communities, and donor organizations can take steps to ensure reconstructed communities are built back safer through actively addressing environmental sustainability, reducing risk and vulnerability to future disasters, and adapting to the realities of our changing climate.
Given that many disasters are climate related, the toolkit helps communities improve their resilience to the effects of climate change in the rebuilding process by integrating disaster risk reduction with climate change adaptation.
Additional disasters since 2004 -- cyclones in Bangladesh and Mozambique; earthquakes in China, and Haiti; an earthquake and tsunami in Chile; floods in Pakistan and Thailand; and last year’s Hurricane Sandy – have only solidified the need for integrating environmental management and disaster risk reduction.
Communities that have adopted GRRT principles have saved time and money during reconstruction and are seeing long-term benefits -- healthier mangroves that can reduce future risks of flooding; healthier fisheries that support livelihoods and enhance food security; and healthier forests that provide timber for homes, protect water quality and quantity as well as habitat for wildlife.
World Wildlife Fund
Jana T. Sweeny
American Red Cross
ABOUT WORLD WILDLIFE FUND
WWF is the world’s leading conservation organization, working in 100 countries for nearly half a century. With the support of almost 5 million members worldwide, WWF is dedicated to delivering science-based solutions to preserve the diversity and abundance of life on Earth, halt the degradation of the environment and combat climate change. Visit www.worldwildlife.org to learn more.
ABOUT THE AMERICAN RED CROSS
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.