Environmental degradation, inequitable access to natural resources and the transboundary movement of hazardous materials can lead to conflict and pose a risk to national security and human health.
Transboundary pollution, for instance, can disrupt relations between neighbouring states, which share a common resource base. Health risks and involuntary migration due to water scarcity, inequitable access to land resources, uncontrolled stocks of obsolete pesticides or other forms of hazardous waste can also threaten stability and peace.
Common problems linked to the use of natural resources can also bring people to work together towards a shared goal; environmental co-operation can act as a powerful tool for preventing conflicts and promoting peace between communities and societies. UNEP aims to minimize threats to human wellbeing and the environment caused by disasters and conflict and their consequences. Targeted results include enhanced environmental management capacity of member states, rapid and reliable assessments upon government request, and improved sustainable use of natural resources through the implementation of sound policies and practices in post-crisis situations.
The Environment and Security Initiative (ENVSEC) – an inter-agency initiative consisting of UNDP, UNEP, NATO, OSCE, UNECE, and REC – was created to encourage key public decision-makers in South Eastern and Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Caucasus to act to advance and protect peace and the environment at the same time.