Activities  Assessments  Environment and Security

During the second half of 2002, a new initiative of UNEP’s Regional Office for Europe (ROE) that is supported by GRID-Europe and other UNEP units was initiated, under the theme of “Environment and Security”. The general purpose of this project, being carried out in collaboration with UNDP and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is to identify linkages between major environmental concerns within European sub-regions and countries, and existing or potential security problems that impact on people and states. The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) has later joined ENVSEC as an associate, through its Public Diplomacy Division.

This project seeks to facilitate a process whereby key public decision-makers in South Eastern and Eastern Europe, Central Asia and Caucasus are able to motivate action to advance and protect peace and the environment at the same time. Environmental concerns relating to shared natural resources range from threats to biodiversity and human livelihoods to land degradation and international waters. Other issues are obsolete or polluting industrial and waste sites, including nuclear ones, and their impacts either locally within countries or especially as trans-boundary phenomena.

GRID-Europe is supporting this initiative at both the conceptual, management and technical levels. This includes taking part in the project’s steering committee meetings and workshops, and through preparation of digital cartographic products, which demonstrate existing environmental concerns and issues, as well as relevant policy measures (conventions, treaties, etc.).

The report on environment and security in Central Asia and South Eastern Europe follows the first public presentation of the Environment and Security Initiative at the 5th Ministerial Conference "Environment for Europe" in Kiev where “Environment and Security” is the major theme and connects with the 11th OSCE Economic Forum in Prague in May 2003. Its aim is to facilitate a collaborative process between key public officials and development partners and to address the interconnections between environmental and security issues. The report "Environment and Security Transforming risks into Cooperation: The case of Central Asia and South Eastern Europe" is available in PDF file (10.8 Mb).

On the occasion of the conference on the Aarhus Convention on public involvement in environmental decision-making, in Almaty, Kazaghstan, in May 2005, ENVSEC launched an in-depth assessment report of the environmental and security situation in the Ferghana Valley. This one-year process carried out in close collaboration with the three countries (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan & Uzbekistan), identified several 'clusters' of issues on the environment-security interface. GRID-Europe contributed to this publication through the collection of information, the management of the project website and the production of maps, from which the final illustrations were produced. A work programme will be carried out by ENVSEC partners and the countries sharing the Ferghana Valley.

Another region where the ENVSEC partners are very active is South Eastern Europe. Asub-regional conference on mining was held in Cluj-Napoca (Romania) in May 2005, with high-level participation of Mr. Klaus Toepfer, UNEP Executive Director, Mrs. Sulfina Barbu, Minister of Environment and Water Management of Romania, and Mr. Miklos Persanyi, Minister of Environment and Water of Hungary. The objective of the Conference was to draw up an action programme to reduce environment and security risks from mining in the region, including further assessment and pilot projects at highrisk sites, and endorse guidelines for sustainable mining and closure of mines. Two ENVSEC reports were presented during the conference. "Mining for Closure - policies, practices and guidelines for sustainable mining and closure of mines", was prepared with research and cartographic support from GRID-Europe, and the "Rapid Environmental Assessment of the Tisza River Basin (TRB)" that was entirely prepared by GRID-Europe. ENVSEC project work is now beginning in a fourth sub-region, the Western NIS (Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine) with country visits by partners and the exploratory assessment phase.

ENVSEC continued to expand in many senses during the mid-year period of 2005. Not only did the overall number of project activities expand in the three existing ENVSEC sub-regions (Central Asia, the South Caucasus and SouthEastern Europe (SEE)), but a fourth sub-region Eastern Europe (Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine) for ENVSEC activities, and the potential to bring on board new partners the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the Regional Environmental Centre for Central and Eastern Europe (the REC) on board, were also proposed.

The latest meetings for the ENVSEC Initiative were held in Bratislava, Slovakia (offices of the UNDP Regional Office are there) on 28-30 September. First the ENVSEC Management Board (EMB) that serves as the Initiative's steering mechanism met on 28 September. The EMB includes the three main partners, plus associate partner NATO and donor representatives, and normally meets twice per year. The entire ENVSEC portfolio of over 30 projects in the three sub-regions was reviewed, as well as funding status and needs, and future activities such as the ENVSEC retreat on 15-16 October. There was agreement to include Eastern Europe as a fourth subregion and also to find a modus operandi to include the additional partners under consideration.

The ENVSEC Advisory Board meeting (held on 29-30 September) was the largest ever convened, with over 100 participants from the 18 ENVSEC countries, international agencies and donor countries, and the four partners themselves. The Advisory Board meeting in essence was an in-depth consultation with the country stakeholders on current activities and future directions of the ENVSEC initiative - and specific projects - in their sub-regions (countries). Brief presentations were made by all the ENVSEC NFPs and international organizations, plus donors and two major European banks, and results of a series of ENVSEC projects in the Caucasus, Central Asia and SEE were also presented.

In-depth discussions were held with national representatives from each of the four sub-regions to identify their priorities among existing, as well as for newly-proposed projects (first-stage assessment activities for Eastern Europe will get underway in late 2005/early 2006). Contacts were renewed with existing and established with new ENVSEC NFPs for this purpose.

The ENVSEC Initiative remains an excellent example of collaboration not only between the current four agency partners involved, but internally in UNEP between the Assessment and Regional CoordinationDivisions, and thus offers broader possibilities for application in other UNEP regions.

In the first quarter of 2006, GRID-Europe assisted GRID-Arendal, contracted by the Institute for Environmental Security (IES) in The Hague, in the creation of 25 maps illustrating three pilot case studies focusing on the Matavean area in the Colombian Guyana Shield region, the Great Lakes region of Africa and Kalimantan, Indonesia. Some of these maps are available on the maps page of the GRID-Europe website.

At the same time, DEWA/GRID-Europe continues to maintain and periodically upgrade the ENVSEC website on behalf of the UNEP-based ENVSEC Secretariat and three other partner.

Pager summarizing the Environment and Security Initiative (ENVSEC)

For more details, visit: http://www.envsec.org

Reports on the ENVSEC initiative in which GRID-Europe has been involved include:
- Environment and Security in Central Asia and South Eastern Europe. UNEP, OSCE, UNDP, 2003.
- Environment and Security - Transforming risks into cooperation - The case of Southern Caucasus. UNEP, 2004.
- Reducing Environment & Security Risks from Mining in South Eastern Europe. UNEP, 2004.
- Rapid Environmental Assessment of the Tisza River Basin. UNEP, 2004.
- Environment and Security: Transforming risks into cooperation - Central Asia - Ferghana / Osh / Khujand area. UNEP, 2005.