Updated: 2 July 1999 NATO Press Statement


2 July 1999

Protecting the Environment

With environmental issues very much to forefront of the activities of Alliance members, NATO has begun the process of drawing from the wealth of existing national procedures, and the valuable work carried out by the International Staff Scientific Division Committee on the Challenges for Modern Society (CCMS) in order to develop common environmental policies and practices for the good of all. Virtually every military action has an effect on the environment and we clearly have a duty to act responsibly. As each nation possesses different environmental laws, NATO has a major task to keep abreast of the procedures it must apply when forces of one country are operating in the territory of another; a standardized approach will certainly reduce the administrative burden. However, for operations in the Balkans where national environmental policies do not exist, multi-national forces need a unified approach to protecting the environment; developing this is the work of the newly-formed Environmental Protection Working Group (EPWG).

Convened for the first time from 21 -23 June 1999 at NATO Headquarters, the EPWG is under the auspices of the Military Agency for Standardization (MAS) Joint Service Board. Chaired by Italy and attended by 12 nations, the group's initial focus has been to draft environmental policy, doctrine and guidance for NATO commanders and planners. The fruits of this work will be STANAG 7141-EP, which will be offered to nations for ratification during the coming months. Another topic the EPWG is tackling is an 'Alliance approach' to the handling and disposal of Hazardous Waste Materials.

Consideration of the environment clearly features in the work of many other groups within NATO and the EPWG expects to have widespread liaison and dialogue. Environmental protection is topical and its scope is vast; the EPWG is taking its first steps in pooling the knowledge of members and harmonizing environmental procedures which the Alliance will use in the next century.

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