NATO agrees to extend Environment and Security cooperation initiative
NATO and partner organizations have recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding to extend the Environment and Security (ENVSEC) Initiative for three more years, until 31 December 2012. The initiative provides a framework for co-operation on environmental issues across borders, promoting peace and stability in Central Asia, the Caucasus, eastern Europe and southeastern Europe.
As disputes between two or more states over the management of shared natural resources can eventually lead to hostilities, a group of international organizations, including NATO, decided in 2003 to work together to increase regional cooperation over shared resources and environmental challenges.
Challenges include access to natural resources, cross-border movement of hazardous materials, cross-border pollution, and involuntary migration due to water scarcity, lack of access to land resources and uncontrolled stocks of obsolete pesticides or other forms of hazardous waste. ENVSEC is based on the view that these common challenges can also bring different groups and people together to find solutions, building confidence among and between them. Environmental co-operation can help to prevent conflicts and encourage peace between communities.
The renewal of ENVSEC’s mission is based on a revised structure of its secretariat, which creates additional capacity to carry out the directives of the ENVSEC Management Board and to manage relations with donors. It will also work to coordinate the regional work programmes, oversee and provide guidance to sub-regional and country teams, and carry out its activities under the leadership of a Management Board Chair.
Since the Initiative’s inception, NATO has led a number of ENVSEC projects through its Science for Peace and Security programme, for example:
- the management of uranium waste in Central Asia,
- the assessment and mitigation of seismic risk in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, and
- integrated water resource management to restore wetlands in the Aral Sea basin.
The participating organizations are NATO, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the UN Environment Programme, the UN Development Programme, the UN Economic Commission for Europe and the Regional Environmental Center.