IEMA joins 102 NGOs and experts from 33 countries to mark the UN day on conflict and the environment by calling on the international community to take bold actions before, during and after armed conflicts to protect people and ecosystems.
The signatories underline their call by drawing attention to a series of serious incidents in ongoing conflicts that have harmed people and the environment. They argue that, although more attention than ever before is being paid to how environmental factors can lead to conflicts, how the environment is affected by conflicts, and how the environment can help restore peace, this has yet to translate into meaningful change on the ground.
The NGOs are active in the fields of human rights, humanitarian disarmament, development and environmental protection, and are joined by leading experts in conservation, international law, public health, peacebuilding and other fields.
“Peace, security and environmental protection go hand in hand. We fully support the UN International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict, recognising that we need to act with greater urgency and coherence to reduce the threats armed conflicts pose to people, our environment and ultimately our health and livelihoods.” Martin Baxter, Chief Policy Advisor
The signatories welcome the trend to recognise the important links between the environment, peace and security, citing UN-led efforts to strengthen the laws protecting the environment in relation to armed conflicts, and to establish a Climate Security Mechanism. They also welcome the increasing recognition of the role of the environment in the protection of civilians, and steps to mainstream the environment in post-conflict recovery and peacebuilding.
New constituencies have also engaged on the topic, with conservation experts recently calling for measures to protect biodiversity in areas affected by conflict. The signatories argue that this momentum for change has been underpinned by a growth in understanding about the connections between the environment and armed conflicts.
It is vital that the international community builds on this momentum to ensure that the environment is accepted as a critical component of peace and security. To do so, governments should draw on the knowledge of civil society, experts and communities to help develop policies that can protect human health and ecosystems, and restore damaged environments.
November 6 is the UN’s Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict, which aims to increase awareness of the environmental dimensions of armed conflicts.