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What is Environment and Security Initiative about?

There is a growing understanding that environmental degradation, inequitable access to natural resources and transboundary movement of hazardous materials increase the probability of conflict and thereby pose a risk to human and even national security. For example, transboundary pollution often negatively affects negatively the relations between neighbouring states sharing the common resource base. Also health risks and involuntary migration due to e.g. water scarcity, equitable access to land resources, uncontrolled stocks of obsolete pesticides or other forms of hazardous waste have been identified as threats to stability and peace.

Ongoing disputes and disagreements over the management of natural resources shared by two or more states, can deepen divides and lead to hostilities. However, common problems regarding the use of natural resources may also bring people together in a positive manner. Communities and nations can build confidence with each other through joint efforts to improve the state and management of natural resources. Environmental co-operation can thereby act as an important tool for preventing conflicts and promoting peace between communities.

The Environment and Security Initiative (ENVSEC) seeks to facilitate a process whereby key public decision-makers in South Eastern and Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Caucasus are able to motivate action to advance and protect peace and the environment at the same time.

What we are doing?

The ENVSEC Initiative works to assess and address environmental problems, which threaten or are perceived to threaten security, societal stability and peace, human health and/or sustainable livelihoods, within and across national borders in conflict prone regions. The Initiative collaborates closely with governments, particularly foreign, defense and environment ministries, national experts and NGOs. Together with the stakeholders ENVSEC has carried out assessments and published reports illustrated by maps, for understanding the linkages between environment and security in the political and socio-economic reality of South Eastern Europe, the Southern Caucasus and Central Asia. Based on the assessments, the Initiative develops and implements work programmes aimed at reducing tensions and solving the problems identified. Through extensive regional consultations and multi-stakeholder participation the initiative seeks to:

  • Identify environment and conflict hotspots by carrying out desk and field assessments

  • Present the results of the assessments in graphically rich maps, reports and web site and draw the attention of politicians and people to situations and hot spots where risks are high

  • Help societies to deal with priority issues by raising awareness, building capacities and strengthening institutions

  • Support concrete action and catalyse specific solutions for the identified security-relevant environmental problems on the ground

These challenges are being tackled with a combination of political, socio-economic and environmental insights as well as the capacity and skills of the six partners. ENVSEC also collaborates with think tanks and research institutes to increase the understanding of the interdependency of natural resources, socio-economic development and political stability.

Who are we?

The Environment and Security Initiative was established in 2003 by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). In 2004, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) became an associated member of the Initiative, and since then coordinates with ENVSEC its environmental activities that are aiming at enhancing the security in vulnerable regions, and supports selected ENVSEC projects that are in line with NATO’s geographical and thematic priorities. From 2006 inwards the Initiative is strengthened by two new members – the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and Regional Environmental Centre for Central and Eastern Europe (REC).

The ENVSEC Management Board is the key decision-making body of the Initiative, which is composed of representatives from each of the partner organizations, who chair it in turn annually. It provides direction to the Initiative on overall strategy, regional priorities, the ENVSEC work programme and budget. The Management Board derives guidance on key strategic, policy, and regional issues and on support for the implementation of activities from biennial Environment and Security Conferences comprising all participating countries and other stakeholders, and biannual Donors’ Fora with participation of both active and potential donors’ organisations.

Day-to-day activities of the ENVSEC Initiative are coordinated by the ENVSEC Secretariat, consisting of the Coordination Unit (Senior Programme Manager, Coordination Officer and Administrative Assistant) hosted by UNEP at its Regional Office for Europe in Geneva, and four Regional Desk Officers, one per each region. The latter are responsible for development, monitoring and reporting on implementation of regional work programmes and information-sharing among different actors, through Regional Coordination Meetings organised once a year.

To ensure active participation of beneficiary countries in planning and monitoring of ENVSEC programmes and projects, the countries are asked to provide complementary expertise in the form of dedicated staff – National Focal Points, usually representing national Ministries of Environment and Foreign Affairs.

Implementation of each project activity is the responsibility of one or several ENVSEC partner organizations, designated by the ENVSEC Management Board based on their mandates and capacities.

At the country level, country and field offices of OSCE, UNDP and REC participate actively in project planning and monitoring, with the support of national agencies, NGOs, academia and research institutions when needed.

>> see also ENVSEC Board and Secretariat 

 

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Last Update 25/01/2011