230446 10/20/2009 14:11 09GENEVA895 Mission Geneva UNCLASSIFIED VZCZCXRO4624 RR RUEHDBU RUEHPOD RUEHSK DE RUEHGV #0895/01 2931411 ZNR UUUUU ZZH R 201411Z OCT 09 FM USMISSION GENEVA TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9725 INFO RUEHTA/AMEMBASSY ASTANA 2243 RUEHEK/AMEMBASSY BISHKEK 0251 RUEHDBU/AMEMBASSY DUSHANBE 0016 RUEHAH/AMEMBASSY ASHGABAT 0162 RUEHNT/AMEMBASSY TASHKENT 0007 RUEHTI/AMEMBASSY TIRANA 1479 RUEHVJ/AMEMBASSY SARAJEVO 0071 RUEHSF/AMEMBASSY SOFIA 1228 RUEHVB/AMEMBASSY ZAGREB 1113 RUEHSQ/AMEMBASSY SKOPJE 1177 RUEHBM/AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST 0974 RUEHBW/AMEMBASSY BELGRADE 0006 RUEHPOD/AMEMBASSY PODGORICA RUEHPS/AMEMBASSY PRISTINA 0102 RUEHSK/AMEMBASSY MINSK 0010 RUEHCH/AMEMBASSY CHISINAU 0171 RUEHKV/AMEMBASSY KIEV RUEHYE/AMEMBASSY YEREVAN 0129 RUEHKB/AMEMBASSY BAKU 0227 RUEHSI/AMEMBASSY TBILISI 0704 RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 0660 UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 GENEVA 000895
DEPARTMENT FOR OES/PCI, OES/ENV, IO/HS, IO/GS, EUR/ACE, EUR/RPM
E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: SENV, UNEP, EPA SUBJECT: The Environment and Security Initiative
1. SUMMARY: The Environment and Security Initiative (ENVSEC) is a collaborative effort between multiple international organizations to assess and address environmental problems that threaten security, stability and peace across borders, particularly in conflict regions. It also utilizes environmental issues as a vehicle to promote cooperation between countries where cooperation on other issues is limited or not possible due to political factors. ENVSEC, particularly its Caucasus program, closely fits with many USG goals in the region - strengthening the role of civil society organizations, raising the public profile of environmental issues in the region, leveraging environmental issues to spur cross-border dialogues on issues of common interest, and showing support for OSCE's role in the Caucasus. The international organizations driving ENVSEC are asking for U.S. engagement - a plea the U.S. should seriously consider. END SUMMARY
ENVSEC GOALS AND GOVERNANCE
2. The Environment and Security Initiative (ENVSEC), established in 2003, is a partnership organization between the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the Organization for the Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), and the Regional Environment Center for Central and Eastern Europe (REC); NATO is an associated member through its Science for Peace and Security Programme. ENVSEC's mandate is to increase cooperation around environment and security issues through policy integration, capacity-building in government institutions, environmental hot-spot risk mitigation, and strengthening civil society. Its Secretariat is co-hosted by the UN Environment Program Geneva office.
3. ENVSEC's Advisory Board is comprised of donors, national government representatives from recipient countries, and scientific and policy advisors. The Advisory Board meets annually to provide guidance for ENVSEC's initiatives. The partnership has over 80 projects in four geographic areas: Central Asia, South-Eastern Europe, Eastern Europe, and the South Caucasus.
4. ENVSEC purposefully structures its projects by region, bringing neighboring countries together on trans-boundary environmental issues to promote confidence-building.
5. ENVSEC's Central Asia programs include Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. These programs focus on management of land and water resources, industrial pollution, mitigation of natural disasters, capacity building for radioactivity analysis, hazardous waste disposal, and environmental health. Additionally, ENVSEC supports media tours and training courses for journalists, and has opened several Public Environmental Information Centers.
6. The South-Eastern Europe programs include Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo. ENVSEC has 23 planned, ongoing, or completed projects in the region, such as a UNEP-led Rapid Assessment of the Tisza River Basin, an on-going UNDP-led project to reduce the impact of agriculture in Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
7. The Eastern Europe programs include Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine. Conflict, such as in the Transnistria region in Moldova, has weakened national and local responses to environmental threats. In addition to other regional programs, ENVSEC launched an
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environmental assessment in Ukraine (with the support of Ukrainian government officials and partner organizations) in 2008.
SOUTH CAUCUSES AND GEORGIAN CONFLICT
8. The Southern Caucuses programs include Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. Among the environmental concerns identified by ENVSEC in the Southern Caucasus are the management of shared natural resources, pollution from ageing industries and irrigation networks, and uncontrolled growth of capital cities. However, the 2008 Georgia-Ossetia conflict has been a significant barrier to ENVSEC operation, as there is no cooperation between Georgian and de facto South Ossetian authorities.
9. ENVSEC orchestrates multiple efforts to emphasize international cooperation and peace in the Southern Caucuses, including a UNEP and OSCE-led project on Environmental Confidence-Building in Areas of Frozen Conflict, and a project to open environmental clubs in the conflict zones in order to foster environmental dialogues among students and local populations. The end goal of these dialogues is to organize government-supported, in-depth environmental assessments in order to remove government uncertainty regarding the environmental conditions therein. A Geneva-based UNEP representative noted that "many nations in this region do not have a solid relationship with one another, and environment is the only policy field upon which they have begun to agree."
10. Building on a meeting that ENVSEC organized between Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia to discuss forest fire management in terrain contaminated by unexploded objects, land mines, and radioactivity, an official conference, "Wildfires and Human Security," was held in October 2009. The highly technical conference drew broad participation, including additional officials from Croatia, Macedonia, Turkey, France, US, Germany, and Ukraine. NATO recently finished a six-year long Southern Caucuses River Monitoring Project in the Kura-Aras river basin, part of a long-term project to establish a trans-boundary river monitoring system. Additionally, Civic Action for Security and Environment (CASE) is a small grant program aimed at strengthening the capacity of civil society organizations to address environment and security challenges.
11. The USG, in its limited role as informal observer, has provided moral support, but not contributed to or funded ENVSEC or its projects and programs. UNEP and OSCE representatives request greater USG involvement. The Regional Hub officer in Budapest noted that ENVSEC, particularly its Caucasus program, closely fits with many USG goals in that region: strengthening the role of civil society organizations, raising the public profile of environmental issues in the region, leveraging environmental issues to spur cross-border dialogues on issues of common interest, and showing support for OSCE's role in the Caucasus.
12. ENVSEC has demonstrated its value in the Southern Caucasus and elsewhere. Given our strategic goals in the region the USG may want to increase its engagement with ENVSEC. One way this could be done is through joining other donor countries, such as Canada, which is the largest donor to ENVSEC. UNEP would like to expand the CASE small grants project in Georgia; perhaps this is the right entry point for USG to support projects and activities in ENVSEC countries and regions.