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New report on environment and security in Central Asia and South Eastern Europe

A new report accesses the relation between environment and security in Central Asia. It looks at how environmental degradation and resource scarcity do not lead to conflict directly but they can contribute to accelerating already existing political, social crises and instability. The report has been produced by UNEP, UNDP and OSCE and GRID-Arendal has produced the maps and graphics.

Environmental degradation and resource scarcity do not directly lead to conflict. They can, however, contribute to accelerating already existing political, social crises and instability. In order to address the socio-economic aspects of environmental problems, and particularly those of resource scarcity or resource pressure, migration and social tensions, integrated approaches that take political, economic, social and environmental dimensions into consideration are needed. Basic policies and measures to address these links already exist, at global, regional and domestic levels, but implementation and subnational governance are lacking.

This report focuses on the environmental stress affecting security in two case regions, Central Asia and South Eastern Europe. It provides maps with an overview on major environmental risks to human development and security. The maps are derived from information gathered at consultation workshops in Belgrade and Ashgabat, which were attended by local experts, government and non-government representatives.

The maps in this report reveal numerous environmental hot spots, where water and groundwater pollution, availability and distribution; legacies of conflict; industrial and agricultural pollution; toxic and radioactive waste; land degradation, salinisation and desertification; and depletion of natural resources negatively impact on economic development and public health. These effects become national security concerns when they are combined with high population density or urbanisation, socio-economic pressures, weak governance structures, and tensions between communities or transboundary disputes.

Derived from local expertise and experience, the recommendations given in this report include reinforcing transboundary co-operation through local-level pilot projects; improving and harmonising environmental monitoring and legal provisions; increasing enforcement capacities on national and sub-national levels; activating civil society involvement in policy making and co-ordinating donor activities.

This report follows the first public presentation of the Environment and Security Initiative (launched in 2002 by UNEP, UNDP and OSCE) at the fifth Ministerial Conference "Environment for Europe" in Kiev 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 full report is available as a PDF file (size: 10 MB) in English and in Russian.

Wednesday 21 May 2003
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