ENVSEC News

ENVSEC News

 
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ENVSEC Management Board and Partners’ meetings

Belgrade, Serbia - 25 November 2014 - 26 November 2014

The ENVSEC inter-agency Management Board meeting and annual ENVSEC Partners meeting took place on 25-26 November in Belgrade, Serbia. The partners of the ENVSEC Initiative reviewed the progress made within the regional and cross-regional context, engaged in in-depth discussions with the donors on how to improve results delivery and inter-agency project implementation, and planned the way forward for the Initiative. With a view to its upcoming Chairmanship of the Initiative, UNEP presented an outline of strategic objectives for 2015. The thematic focus areas of ENVSEC in 2015 will include water, disaster risk reduction and climate change and security.
 



UNECE supports strengthening of dam safety in Central Asia

Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan - 11 November 2014 - 12 November 2014

On 11-12 November 2014, UNECE organised a regional meeting on dam safety in Bishkek as part of the implementation of the third phase of the project “Capacity-building for cooperation on dam safety in Central Asia”. Representatives from key authorities and stakeholders from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Azerbaijan participated along with representatives of international organizations and experts from the Russian Federation.

The regional meeting provided a platform for participants to exchange experiences and agree on a project work plan for 2015. The work plan supports the development of national legislation and institutions in the participating countries as well as continued joint work on smaller dams where safety has been less regulated. With the support of UNECE, safety assessments of the Kirov and Ortotokoi dams in Kyrgyzstan, up-stream of Kazakhstan on the Talas and Chu rivers, will be undertaken in 2015 to upgrade their safety monitoring. Additionally, work to establish a formal framework for cooperation on dam safety between the Central Asian states will also continue.

The regional meeting was organized as part of the Environment and Security Initiative. The UNECE dam safety project is also a component of the UNECE Water Convention and SPECA programmes of work.

For further information please contact:

Mr. Bo Libert
UNECE Regional Adviser on Environment
Phone: +41 (0)22 917 2396
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 

ENVSEC Central Asia Regional Coordination Meeting

Almaty, Kazakhstan - 11 November 2014

On 11 November, the Environment and Security Initiative (ENVSEC) organized a Regional Coordination meeting for Central Asia in Almaty, Kazakhstan. The meeting brought together nearly 40 representatives from the governments of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan as well as representatives from the international organizations accredited in the region. The participants reviewed and analysed the progress to date within the ENVSEC initiative and defined new priorities for its long-term (2015-2025) and short-term (2015-2018) programme implementation in the Central Asia. UNDP, UNEP and other partners of the ENVSEC Initiative will develop work programmes for assessing and addressing environment and security risks in the region based on the outcome statement of this meeting.
 



Fire Management training in Antalya

Antalya, Turkey - 15 October 2014 - 17 October 2014

From 15 to 17 October 2014, the Office of the Co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities in Antalya, Turkey, held a regional training course on fire management to build the capacity of national authorities, fire brigades and unit leaders from the South Caucasus and Western Balkans. The course was held within the framework of ENVSEC with funding from the Governments of Austria, Finland and Switzerland. It was organized in co-operation with the Global Fire Monitoring Center and hosted by the International Fire Management Training Centre in Antalya under the Turkish Ministry of Forest and Water Affairs.

Participants learned about the concepts, good practices and standards of wildfire management. This included handling fires burning on areas contaminated by radioactivity, unexploded ordinances and land mines. The training was provided by experts from Germany, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine and the United States.

Halil Yurdakul Yigitguden, the co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities was quoted saying “natural disasters can have a direct impact on security, addressing common disaster challenges, on the other hand offer an opportunity for co-operation within and among countries.”

Cross-boundary co-operation, community fire management and advanced technologies for fire prevention and preparedness were also focus areas of the training course. Participants shared their experiences, good practices and lessons learned. The final day was devoted to a practical exercise in the field where the participants studied fire behaviour and fire suppression techniques as well as tools and equipment.

Contacts
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UNECE supports policy response to recent accidents of dams in Kazakhstan

26 September 2014

On 17 September 2014, the government of Kazakhstan, UNECE, and the Executive Board of the International Fund for the Saving of the Aral Sea organised a roundtable on dam safety in Astana, to discuss and plan for improved dam safety in Kazakhstan. Representatives from key authorities and stakeholders from Kazakhstan participated in the roundtable, along with international experts.

Dams and reservoirs are efficient means of addressing floods and droughts, but ageing dams represent increased risks to life, health, property, and the environment. In 2010, the failure of the Kyzyl-Agash Dam in Kazakhstan caused the flooding of the nearby village, killing at least 43 and leaving some 300 people injured. Another accident in spring this year stresses the need for improved policies and control in this sector.

The conclusion of the roundtable is that Kazakhstan needs to strengthen its legislation, as well as institutional capacity, to guarantee the safety of existing hydraulic infrastructure, and that international experiences are important in this process. Support from UNECE was requested for further development of national legislation, capacity-building, and the development of an international training centre.

Another issue discussed was the cooperation of Kazakhstan with neighbouring countries on transboundary rivers and its infrastructure. With the support of UNECE safety assessments of the Kirov and Ortotokoi dams in Kyrgyzstan upstreams of Kazakhstan on the Talas and Chu rivers have been made. It was concluded that steps should now be taken to improve the safety monitoring of these dams in cooperation with Kyrgyzstan.

The roundtable was organised as part of the Environment and Security Initiative. The UNECE dam safety project is also a component of the UNECE Water Convention and SPECA programmes of work and is implemented in cooperation with the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea.

For further information please contact: Mr Batyr Hajiyev Economic Affairs Officer Deputy Head ESCAP/UNECE SPECA Office Almaty, Kazakhstan Office: + 7 727 338 4402 Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Or

Mr. Bo Libert UNECE Regional Adviser on Environment Phone: +41 (0)22 917 2396 E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Note to Editors: The project “Capacity-building for cooperation on dam safety in Central Asia” is organised to help Central Asian countries to set up or revise national dam safety regulatory frameworks, to achieve their harmonization and to promote subregional cooperation for information exchange and notification in case of accidents or emergency situations related to hydro-technical infrastructure. For more information see: http://www.unece.org/env/water/damsafety.html

The Environment and Security (ENVSEC) Initiative was established in 2003 and includes the OSCE, the Regional Environmental Centre for Central and Eastern Europe (REC), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UNECE and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The ENVSEC Initiative works to assess and address environmental problems, which threaten or are perceived to threaten security, societal stability and peace, human health and/or sustainable livelihoods, within and across national borders in conflict prone regions. http://www.envsec.org/
 

ENVSEC Eastern European Regional consultation meeting

Minsk, Belarus - 08 September 2014 - 09 September 2014

The Environment and Security (ENVSEC) Eastern European Regional consultation meeting took place from 8 to 9 September 2014. The meeting saw broad participation from representatives of governments of Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine, academic and non-governmental institutions, and ENVSEC’s international partners.

The meeting was convened by UNEP as the Eastern European regional desk of the ENVSEC Initiative, and generously hosted by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection of the Republic of Belarus.

The high-level participants deliberated for two days in plenary and group discussions, analysing the future outlook for ENVSEC in Eastern Europe in a joint effort to work out priority areas where immediate attention and action is needed on the part of the Eastern European countries and their ENVSEC partners, especially in the context of the current tense situation in the region.

As a result of the two-day negotiations, which necessitated an intense closed-door session moderated by UNEP, an Outcome Statement was produced, elaborating the main challenges in the area of environment and security and giving the region a new vision of cooperation.

The priority areas identified are as follows: Water issues and transboundary water basins; Climate change: an ecosystem approach; Management of chemicals and hazardous wastes; Transboundary environmental security; Environmental cooperation in conflict situations; and Industrial activity and environmental security.

The Outcome Statement is posted on the ENVSEC website under Meetings .
 

Transboundary Cooperation and Climate Change Adaptation in the Neman River Basin

Lithuania - 19 June 2014 - 20 June 2014

The draft strategic framework for basin adaptation and a possible way forward to strengthen transboundary cooperation in the Neman River watershed in Eastern Europe was discussed in a meeting on river basin management and climate change adaptation held in Vilnius, Lithuania. The recommendations include expanding the scope of technical cooperation, improving cross-border exchange of information, for instance to support river basin management planning in Lithuania with Belarusian inputs, and to continue exploring opportunities for a basin-level policy instrument for the Neman River basin.

The meeting on 19 and 20 June 2014 convened experts and representatives from environmental authorities in Belarus, Lithuania and the Kaliningrad oblast of the Russian Federation. It was hosted by the Lithuanian Ministry of Environment in the framework of an international process on river basin management and climate change adaptation led by UNECE and UNDP Belarus.

The Neman Basin conference was organized as part of the project “River basin management and climate change adaptation in the Neman River Basin”, which is carried out by UNECE and UNDP Belarus in the ENVSEC framework.

The project aims to improve integrated river basin management and transboundary cooperation in times of a changing climate in the Neman River basin, to strengthen the capacity of the riparian countries to adapt to climate change by supporting dialogue and cooperation on the necessary steps to design an adaptation strategy in the transboundary context. The project has, for the first time, enabled modelling and forecasting of climatic and hydrological characteristics for the entire transboundary Neman River basin. It has also resulted in a strategic framework for basin adaptation, similar to a transboundary adaptation strategy. It has reached a common understanding on future water availability and water use, taking into account possible climate change impacts.

The project was launched in 2011 and is funded by Finland, Sweden and Switzerland. It is one of the pilot projects on climate change adaptation in transboundary basins under the UNECE Water Convention.
 

Integrated Water Management for the Lepenec River

29 May 2014

REC has ensured cooperation between the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Kosovo (Territory under UN Resolution 1244) concerning the management of shared transboundary water resources of the Lepenec river in South Eastern Europe (SEE). In a project aiming to introduce integrated water management, a joint expert group was set up to assess water supply and wastewater management. Based on the technical documentation and results of the assessment, the expert group have also analysed the legal and institutional set-up concerning the management of the Lepenec river and created a stakeholder map for introducing integrated water management.

On 29 May 2014 in Skopje, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, a bilateral meeting between the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Kosovo (Territory under UN Resolution 1244) was organized. In the meeting high-level officials from the Macedonian and Kosovan ministries, responsible for environment, physical planning, agriculture, transportation and economy, and representatives from hydrometeorology and health-care institutes, the business sector and non-governmental organisations met and jointly reviewed the project activities and next steps. The project is funded by the Government of Finland.
 

Workshop on Climate Change and Security in Yerevan

Armenia - 12 May 2014

A national consultation workshop in Yerevan, 12 May 2014, focused on identifying the security implications of climate change for Armenia. The meeting convened representatives and experts from national ministries and agencies, international organizations and civil society including the Aarhus Centres of the UNECE Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters, to examine recent analyses of the trends and impacts of climate change, discuss related policy and to map out the areas most at risk.

“Over the past years, climate change has moved from being a purely environmental and development issue to one of national and international security,” said Tomasz Dembski, Economic and Environmental Programme Officer at the OSCE Office in Yerevan. “Moreover, it has a direct impact on many other environmental and socio-economic issues, such as biodiversity, water resources, energy and public health, among other things.”

Vartouhi Asatourian, Head of the UN Division at the Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said: “Climate change is a global issue and its prevention, response and adaption measures require international collaboration. Due to the seriousness of the implications of climate change, it is one of the priorities in the Armenian Government’s agenda for a number of years. Armenia appreciates the efforts of the international organizations and, in particular, the ENVSEC Initiative, in supporting the country’s measures on tackling the challenges posed by climate change.”

The results from the national workshop will feed into a report on climate change and security in South Caucasus, which will be further discussed at a regional consultation workshop later this year.

The event was organized jointly by OSCE and UNEP, in the framework of the ENVSEC project “Climate Change and Security in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the South Caucasus”, funded by the EU Instrument for Stability, together with the Austrian Development Agency.
 

National Consultation Workshop on Climate Change and Security in Tbilisi

Georgia - 08 May 2014

A national consultation workshop took place on 8 May 2014 in Tbilisi, under the ENVSEC project “Climate Change and Security in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Southern Caucasus”.

The project aims to increase the understanding and awareness of climate change as a security challenge, and the consequent need for transboundary cooperation on climate change adaptation in the three regions as well as enhancing national and local stakeholders’ capacity to anticipate, prevent and mitigate effectively and in a timely manner potential security risks resulting from climate change.

The national consultation workshop was designed to identify security implications of climate change at national and transboundary levels. It identified and mapped geographic areas requiring priority action (hot-spots), reviewed links between climate change and socio-economic aspects, and contributed to developing recommendations for reducing potential security risks that stem from climate change. The workshop brought together representatives of national authorities, climate change experts and civil society. The meeting was opened by the Deputy Head of the EU Delegation in Georgia, Mr Boris Iarochevitch, representatives of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Protection as well as the Office of the Co-coordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities (OCEEA).

The results from the national workshop will feed into a regional report on climate change and security in the Southern Caucasus, which will be further discussed at regional consultation workshop later this year. The project was launched in 2013, and it is funded by the EU Instrument for Stability, together with the Austrian Development Cooperation.
 

ENVSEC Technical Mission to Arsenic Mining Site

Georgia - 02 May 2014 - 06 May 2014

In Lentekhi municipality of Georgia over 50.000 tons of arsenic containing waste resulting from former Soviet production of arsenic anhydride and metallic arsenic pose significant risks to the surrounding environment and health of local communities. The waste is stored in deteriorated steel containers with a high probability of leakage or remains unprotected in surface impoundments. After a flooding in September 2013 the security risks for the surrounding environment significantly increased when the wall of the container burial site was washed away, exposing the steel containers and escalating the risk of hazardous waste leakage.

Following the flooding, the Minister of Environment and Natural Resource Protection of Georgia appealed to OSCE and the ENVSEC Initiative, and as a result, a technical mission led by UNEP and OSCE was established. In the framework of this new ENVSEC project to address emergency environment and security threats at the arsenic mining site in Tsana, national and international experts visited Georgia on 2-6 May 2014 to assess the situation at the three locations in the Lentekhi municipality where arsenic containing mining waste is stored. The expert team also visited the laboratory of the Georgia National Environmental Agency, in charge of environmental monitoring and undertaking the analysis of the Tsana soil and water samples, and held meetings with the Lentekhi local administration and the Ministry.

Based on their findings, the expert team will determine immediate contingency measures for the arsenic waste, suggest appropriate waste management options for Tsana area, and design appropriate waste containment structures to completely seal the mining waste.

The group photo of the technical mission team is courtesy of Doug Hickman, Team Leader of the ENVSEC technical mission to the arsenic mining site in Georgia.
 

ENVSEC Embarks on a New Decade in South Eastern Europe

31 March 2014 - 01 April 2014

The annual ENVSEC Regional Coordination meeting for South Eastern Europe (SEE) convened on March 31 - April 1, 2014 in Podgorica, Montenegro. Through the support of the Austrian Development Agency (ADA), ENVSEC partner organizations, OSCE, REC, UNDP, UNECE, UNEP and associated partner NATO, have ushered in a new decade of work in the region through a multi-annual regional programme. Continuing work in the region for 2012-2015 is currently funded by ADA, with additional financial resources available for selected activities by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland and the Swiss Development Cooperation.

Mr. Branimir Gvozdenovic, Minister for Sustainable Development and Tourism of Montenegro, in the opening session called for stronger support from the donor community to the countries of SEE and praised ENVSEC for their significant support to resolving environmental concerns in the region.

Over 100 participants attended the meeting including high level officials from Montenegro, national focal points from the SEE region, international organizations, academia, civil society organizations, corporate leaders and other partners. The meeting was an opportunity to acknowledge the relevance and progress made in addressing environment and security risks in the SEE region. Participants in the meeting stressed that regional cooperation is a key generator of political stability and economic process in the region, and that in this regard ENVSEC activities in the region contribute solid support to the Western Balkan countries in meeting the demanding requirements of EU membership.

The meeting consisted of a high-level opening panel which discussed the added value of ENVSEC, a working meeting of the ENVSEC National Focal Points representing Ministries of Environment and Ministries of Foreign Affairs from each country in the SEE region, a world café, and a roundtable discussion. Through the working meeting and subsequent discussions, participants were exposed to the priority areas for ENVSEC actions in the SEE region for increased regional cooperation. Additionally participants were given tools to gain new opportunities for ENVSEC to synergise with partners for greater efficiency; to expand upon recognised tools and methods that are applied in other regions; to mainstream disaster risk reduction, management and preparedness; and to support political instruments and processes, such as the SEE 2020 Strategy, with ENVSEC expertise for orchestrated activities that can catalyse resources and strengthen the region.
 

First Step Towards Enhancing National Capacities for Managing Climate Related Security Risks

29 January 2014 - 31 March 2014

In the framework of the ENVSEC project “Climate Change and Security in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Southern Caucasus” implemented with funding from the European Union Instrument for Stability (IfS) and the Austrian Development Agency and under the overall lead of the OSCE, a first round of national multi-stakeholder consultation workshops on Climate Change and Security were organized by UNDP in all five countries of the Central Asia region. The meetings conducted in Turkmenistan (29 January 2014), Uzbekistan (5 March 2014), Kyrgyzstan (18 March 2014), Kazakhstan (28 March 2014) and Tajikistan (31 March 2014).

These multi-stakeholder workshops enabled a collection of perspectives from national stakeholders on the security implications of climate change on a national and trans-national level and they facilitated a participatory process for identifying and mapping geographic areas requiring priority action (hot-spots). Furthermore, during the meetings the links between climate change and different sectors were reviewed and recommendations for reducing potential security risks resulting from climate change were drafted. The discussions were based on the results of regional desk studies conducted by local and international experts on the security implications of climate change as a first step of this project, and the results will feed into the finalized versions of the regional “Climate Change and Security in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Southern Caucasus” vulnerability assessment reports.
 

Addressing Cross-Border Transport of Hazardous Waste and Environmental Crimes in Moldova

27 March 2014 - 28 March 2014

On 27-28 March 2014 in Chisinau, Moldova, OSCE hosted a training workshop entitled “Detection and Prevention of Trafficking of Environmentally Sensitive Commodities” under the ENVSEC project “Prevention of Illegal Cross-border Transport of Hazardous Waste and Other Cross-border Environmental Crimes”.

Given the severity of the illegal border crossing of environmentally sensitive commodities, this workshop aimed to spread awareness of the need for customs capacity building and training of border guards and environmental officers to detect and prevent illegal trafficking of environmental goods, as governed by the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, and the Convention on International Trade in the Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
 

Discussing National Capacity against Forest Fire in Georgia

24 March 2014

On 24 March 2014 in Tbilisi, Georgia, OSCE organized under the ENVSEC framework the fifth national roundtable on forest fire management. This was in co-operation with the Global Fire Monitoring Center based in Germany and the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Protection of Georgia, under the auspices of the ENVSEC project "Enhancing National Capacity on Fire Management and Wildfire Disaster Risk Reduction in the South Caucasus” (Phase Three).

During this roundtable the participants reviewed recent developments within the Georgian forestry sector and prepared a draft National Policy on Forest Management. The participants also discussed the future steps for application of the recommendations, in view of advancing an effective forest fire management policy to better handle and prevent wildfires and related damages. The progress made indicates the level of concern from Georgia for forest protection and their commitment to reducing risks of wildfire disasters, including by working in partnership with OSCE and the ENVSEC Initiative.

Previous achievements of this project comprise of the 2013 establishment of the National Forest Agency within the Georgian Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Protection, and the Forest Fire Strategy for improving forest fire management.