Sustainable development:
Social issues & the environment

Humanitarian activities and the environment

Working in the «humanitarian capital»

A partnership between a humanitarian and conservation organization produced a commitment to community-based forest conservation.

CARE is putting an emphasis on empowering local communities to have greater control over resources.

Denis Caillaux, Secretary General of CARE International

CARE International is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. Non-political and non-sectarian, it operates in more than 65 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and Eastern Europe, reaching more than 50 million people in poor communities.

CARE helps tackle underlying causes of poverty so that people can become self-sufficient. It delivers emergency aid to survivors of natural disasters and war and, once the immediate crisis is over, helps people rebuild their lives. While CARE is a large international organization with more than 14,500 employees worldwide, it has a strong local presence with more than 90% of its staff composed of nationals of the countries where the programmes are run.

In the specific area of environment, CARE runs around 40 projects and programmes in 25 developing countries, addressing environmental and natural resource management. CARE recognizes the importance of the environment to the poor of the developing world, where most rural livelihoods are based on natural resources and is increasingly addressing the issues of governance at local, national and global levels with an emphasis on empowering local communities so that they have greater control over resources.

We have a long-standing partnership with WWF, headquartered just outside Geneva. Both organizations have become increasingly aware of the synergy between poverty reduction and sound environmental management and of the potential of a partnership linking the environment and development agendas. This partnership was launched in 2002 at the World Summit for Sustainable Development, with CARE and WWF issuing their Call to Action on Social and Environmental Justice. A commitment to community-based approaches for forest conservation in the final Johannesburg Declaration is one direct result of this initiative and has provided a platform for subsequent advocacy initiatives by national and international NGOs.

In today's international environment, cooperation and coordination among stakeholders is absolutely critical and the role played by the various Geneva-based coordination mechanisms has gained in importance over the past few years.

Another example of CARE-WWF partnership is in ensuring access to water resources and their sustainable management, recognizing that the lack of access to water and poor water quality are major contributors to poverty. In connection with the 2004 Commission for Sustainable Development, WWF and CARE have cooperated closely and pressured governments for action to meet the target.

As the «humanitarian capital», Geneva brings together a number of key stakeholders in humanitarian response. Interestingly, while New York has always been the focus of the more political debates around issues of international peace and security, Geneva has focused on the operational dimension of humanitarian response, which is of primary importance for CARE. The organization has a long standing relationship with the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as well as with the Red Cross Movement, both the International Federation and ICRC.

CARE is also very active in the area of health, particularly HIV-AIDS. Geneva is host not only to WHO and UNAIDS, but also to the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

A number of NGO coordinating mechanisms of vital importance to CARE are also based in Geneva. In today's international environment, cooperation and coordination among the various stakeholders is absolutely critical and the role played by the various Geneva-based coordination mechanisms has gained in importance over the past few years.

www.care.org