UNEP / OCHA Joint Unit

The UNEP / Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Joint Unit (JEU)

About UNEP/OCHA Joint Unit

The UNEP / Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Joint Unit (JEU) is the United Nations mechanism to mobilise and coordinate emergency assistance to countries affected by environmental emergencies and humanitarian crisis with significant environmental impacts.


OCHA is the part of the United Nations Secretariat responsible for bringing together humanitarian actors to ensure a coherent response to emergencies. The JEU is housed in OCHA’s Emergency Services Branch (ESB) and has full access to OCHA’s tools and services to support member states in the coordination of the international response.


JEU is recognized as the principal multilateral entity and primary point of contact for mobilizing and coordinating international action in partnership with national and international actors in response to environmental emergencies.

Regarding marine pollution incident although other organisations (IMO,REMPEC) and national and regional preparedness and response systems will have the lead role , the assistance of JEU may be requested in particular when human health and environment (sensitive marine ecosystem) are threatened and affected on a major scale.

Upon receipt of an official request for assistance from an affected country the JEU will advise on immediate actions and, if necessary, forward a request for assistance to its network of partners. The JEU provides support specifically on the coordination elements of a response, as well as in assessing and mitigating the possible harmful environmental impacts of a disaster or emergency.

In case of marine pollution incident which may require assistance from JEU, JEU will work in close collaboration with the International Maritime Organization, regional organizations (REMPEC and UNEP/MAP) as well as with other humanitarian and disaster response actors, including the clusters and the World Health Organization.

Role and/or Services

The JEU provides a wide range of services to member states and humanitarian organizations in responding to environmental emergencies,

  • provision of technical expertise through existing emergency response and preparedness mechanisms;
  • maintaining a wide network of contacts and partners providing support on a range of environmental topics;
  • developing joint guidelines and tools representing best practice; sharing knowledge and expertise through the Environmental Emergencies Centre (www.eecentre.org);


The JEU has access to the resources and response tools of the international humanitarian system. These include the Virtual On-Site Operations Coordination Centre (VOSOCC) (https://vosocc.unocha.org), a real time, online coordination platform designed to support information exchange and coordination among international responders in the early phase of major sudden onset disasters. The On-Site Operations Coordination Centre (OSOCC) concept is a rapid response tool for OCHA and the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination teams that works in close cooperation with the affected Government and the assigned national focal points. The Environmental Emergencies Centre (EEC) (www.eecentre.org) is an online preparedness tool designed to strengthen the capacity of national responders to
environmental emergencies.

Types of assistance

Depending on the nature of the incident the JEU will endeavour to tailor-fit the expertise needed. The following types of response support can be requested:

  • Off-site expert advices
  • On-site expert advices
  • On site sampling and analysis
  • Brokerage with relevant emergency responders

Areas of expertise
Release of hazardous and toxic materials
Impact of hazardous and toxic materials on natural resources and livelihoods
Water contamination
Disaster wastes and debris management


When requesting assistance to an environmental emergency please provide as much information as possible on the event and your needs, using the checklist found in the Environmental Emergencies Guidelines, 2017 (Annex 2) as a guide. Please send your information in an email to the UNEP/OCHA Joint Unit (JEU) (ochaunep@un.org), while also immediately calling the OCHA Duty Officer (available 24/7 at +41 22 917 2010). Based on your needs and requirements, detailed Terms of Reference for support will be developed by the requesting party, with the support of the JEU.


Official request from affected state is required.



UNEP / OCHA Joint Unit –
OCHA Emergency Services Branch,
Palais des Nations,
CH-1211 Geneva 10,


E-mail: ochaunep@un.org
Tel: +41 22 917 2010 (for emergencies only, OCHA Duty Officer),

Document Actions

published on 2020/03/30 16:23:37 GMT+0 last modified 2021-06-09T08:55:00+00:00