Renewed optimism following year of harsh environmental realities for Haiti
Port-au-Prince (Haiti), 21 April 2011 - The stark environmental challenges in Haiti during 2010 and opportunities for a more sustainable future are presented in a new publication from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
UNEP in Haiti: 2010 Year in Review recounts the efforts of UNEP, in partnership with the Government of Haiti, the UN system and others to address environmental issues compounded by the earthquake and Hurricane Tomas - ranging from severe deforestation to polluted waterways and degraded coastal and marine areas - and concludes that most of them remain unsolved.
However, according to UNEP, a range of new environmental initiatives combined with the Government of Haiti's ongoing resolve provide a path towards overcoming the country's chronic environmental issues and supporting its development priorities.
Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, said the earthquake posed a significant setback to the efforts Haiti had been making to reverse years of environmental degradation, overcome poverty and chart a more sustainable future.
"The tragedy starkly underlined the vulnerability of people, the environment and the economy to natural disasters when the resilience of a country's ecosystems such as forests and freshwaters is already weak and compromised," Mr Steiner said.
"UNEP's goal is to reinforce the capacity and assist the people of Haiti to rebuild communities in ways that reduce its vulnerability to future shocks as part of a wider transition to a low carbon, resource efficient, job-generating Green Economy," he said.
The publication documents the efforts to mitigate the environmental impacts of the resettlement of hundreds of thousands of people and of tonnes of rubble and waste, in a nation already considered to be the most environmentally challenged in the Caribbean.
It gives an insight into the types of activities and challenges in such post-disaster settings and sets out lessons learned so that UNEP and other organizations can better understand and prepare to assist in the event of future major crises.