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 radioactive waste and hazardous substances have been identified as threats to stability and peace.
However, common problems linked to the use of natural resources can also bring people to work together towards a common goal; thus, environmental co-operation can act as a powerful tool for preventing conflicts and promoting peace between communities and societies.
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 the pan-European region to act to advance and protect peace and the environment at the same time.
Since 2003, ENVSEC has responded to these challenges by supporting pilot interventions on a country and regional level with a span from in-depth vulnerability assessments, international conventions and cartographic tools to capacity building and enhancing of civil society for stronger institutional dialogue and improved environment and security policies.
The four thematic focus areas of ENVSEC are:
ENVSEC implements regional work programmes in Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan), Eastern Europe (Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine), South East Europe (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo (territory under UN resolution 1244), and South Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia).
In the ENVSEC regions, the Initiative adapts to the changing geopolicitical landscape and responds to emerging issues, such as the risk nexus of climate, water, energy and food security.