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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.

Multi-stakeholders workshop discussing implementation of the Aarhus Convention in Belarus

29 January 2014 - 31 January 2014

Good environmental governance is key for tackling environmental challenges. In January 2014, OSCE and UNECE organized 3 days multi-stakeholder workshop on “Advancing Implementation of the UNECE Aarhus Convention in Belarus”. The workshop was organised in close cooperation with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection of the Republic of Belarus and in partnership with the RUE Belorussian SRC ‘Ecology’, with support from the Environment and Security (ENVSEC) Initiative.

The diverse participation of practitioners from the central and local level demonstrated the strong commitment of Belarus to the implementation of the Aarhus Convention. Over 50 representatives of central and local governments, academia, governmental institutions, representatives of environmental civil society organizations, as well as Minsk and Hrodno Aarhus Centers, highlighted the challenges and solutions for advancing the implementation of the Aarhus Convention and its amendment on genetically-modified organisms (GMO) in Belarus. Participants familiarized themselves with the current implementation of the Aarhus Convention; they explored different measures to enhance the implementation of the Convention and its GMO amendment at the national and local levels, including with support of the Aarhus Centres.

At the opening of the workshop the First Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection, Vitaly Kulik, stated that significant progress has been made in integrating the Aarhus Convention’s provisions into national legislation and in strengthening the capacities of state institutions in Belarus. He noted that "the National Workshop Advancing Implementation of the Aarhus Convention in Belarus will further promote implementation of the provisions of the Aarhus Convention".

ENVSEC report: Transboundary Cooperation and Sustainable Management of the Dniester River Basin

22 January 2014

A publication presents the achievements of the Environment and Security Initiative (ENVSEC) project “Transboundary Co-operation and Sustainable Management in the Dniester River Basin: Phase III – Implementation of the Action Programme”. The project was led and implemented by three of the ENVSEC partners, UNECE, OSCE and UNEP.

Project activities, transboundary water monitoring, fish fauna conservation, information sharing on the basin level, public awareness, and reducing vulnerability to extreme floods and climate change, and development and signing of the Moldovan-Ukrainian Dniester River basin Treaty, are described in the publication.

The signing ceremony took place at the sixth session of the Meeting of the Parties to the UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention) in Rome in November 2012 (see Treaty text in Russian and English as well as the related press release).

The publication provides recommendations for further activities in the Dniester basin and is a valuable reference for the further development of the transboundary integrated water resources management.
Dniester without Borders Summary (English)
Dniester without Borders Summary (Russian)
Dniester without Borders (Russian)

ENVSEC assists Azerbaijan and Georgia to make another step towards sustainable management of the Kura River Basin

Baku, Azerbaijan - 16 January 2014

On Thursday, 16 January 2014, representatives of Azerbaijan and Georgia met in Baku to negotiate the text of a draft bilateral agreement on the shared water resources of the Kura River Basin as part of a joint United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) - Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) project under the Environment and Security Initiative (ENVSEC). The consultations were constructive, and the draft text will now be the basis of final negotiations between the two countries.

Azerbaijan and Georgia rely on the water in the Kura Basin as a key source of drinking water, as well as for sanitation, municipal and industrial water use, hydropower and irrigated agriculture, among other uses. Increased variation in and reduction of water flow, deterioration of water quality, ecosystem degradation, flooding and bank erosion are some of the issues that need to be addressed jointly by the two Riparian States.

The draft agreement provides a framework for cooperation between the two countries on water pollution prevention and control, conservation of biodiversity, emergency situations, data and information sharing and public participation. The agreement also envisages the establishment of a joint commission for the protection and rational use of water resources of the Kura River Basin.

The project to develop the agreement is being funded by the Government of Finland.

For further information please visit: http://www.unece.org/env/water/caucasus.html

Trilateral Vision for the Protected Area “Sharr/Šar Planina–Korab-Dešat/Deshat”

Popova Shapka, FYR of Macedonia - 07 November 2013

On 7 November in Popova Shapka in the Sharra mountains, the three Environment Ministers of the bordering countries Albania, Kosovo and FYR of Macedonia signed the Joint Vision for the transboundary protected Area “Sharr/Šar Planina - Korab - Dešat /Deshat. Furthermore, FYR of Macedonia committed to concrete actions in order to establish the national park Sharra. This was the second trilateral ministerial meeting regarding this proposed transboundary protected area organized by UNEP, through the Environment and Security Initiative (ENVSEC).

Besides the Ministers of Environment from Albania, Kosovo and the FYR of Macedonia, the Austrian Ambassador to Macedonia, the Deputy Ambassador of Germany to Macedonia, UNEP representatives, EuroNatur representatives, and Mayors of local municipalities of all three bordering countries as well as many other representatives from the local communities, academia, governments and NGOs attended the meeting.

At the press conference, Minister Ademi, FYR of Macedonia, expressed his gratitude for the support received from local communities, UNEP and NGOs, and stated that “Albania and Kosovo have proclaimed protected areas from their sides of the mountain, and therefore it is now time for the same to happen on Macedonian side”. All ministers highlighted their common standing on the protection of the Sharra mountain, which will contribute to overall ecological value and socio-economic prosperity through the development of eco-tourism. Minister Ademi also flagged the expectation of discussing the proclamation of the Sharra national park on the next Parliamentary Session of Macedonia.

The meeting was a great achievement of the ENVSEC Initiative, as it represented a large stepping stone towards achieving the transboundary protected area, through cooperation and partnership between the countries.

The First Decade of Partnership for Environment and Security

Brussels - 06 November 2013

Celebrating 10 years of the Environment and Security Initiative (ENVSEC), governments and experts, beneficiaries and donors, gathered in Brussels to share their achievements, and to debate lessons learned and future priorities concerning the environment and security.

Please click here for more information, including the presentations given at this event.

Reducing climate change and security risks in South Eastern Europe

Podgorica, Montenegro - 04 November 2013

Podgorica hosted on 4 November 2013 a national training titled “Vulnerability assessments addressing security risks connected to adaptation to climate change in Montenegro”.

The training was organized under the auspices of the ENVSEC project Transforming Environmental and Security Risks into Cooperation in the South East Europe programme, and with the support of the Austrian Development Agency. Considering the conflict risks over natural resources, which may also be triggered by the adverse impacts of climate change, the aim of this project is to contribute to the straightening of human and institutional capacities for vulnerability and impact assessment, and to raise awareness of climate change adaptation.

With the objective of helping local authorities in Montenegro to conduct impact and vulnerability studies, the training focused on climate change conditions and Montenegrin policies, the impact of climate change on biodiversity and responses through local biodiversity actions plans. Early warning system for extreme weather conditions were presented, as well as discussions on how to integrate climate change adaptation strategies into decision-making processes. It was highlighted that vulnerability assessments are a central part of the adaptation process, and examples of how to assess vulnerability were reviewed for various regions (Africa, Europe and Central America). Participants also discussed the identification of feasible short-term and long-term adaptation measures and opportunities for Montenegro to access financial resources for climate change adaptation.

The over 20 participants represented several Montenegrin municipalities, national park authorities, ministries of Sustainable Development and Tourism, the Institute for Hydrometeorology and Seismology of Montenegro, EPA-Montenegro, and the Universities of Montenegro and Donja Gorica.

Round Table Discussion on the Implementation of the SEA Protocol in Belarus

Minsk, Belarus - 05 September 2013

In September 2013, a Round Table was held at the Belarus Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection to present and discuss the Preliminary Report of the Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA) on improvement of environmental legislation. If Belarus is willing to join the SEA protocol, several steps are needed in order to integrate environmental questions into decision-making processes.

The participants, representatives of ministries, NGOs, legal experts and representatives from international organisations indeed widely recognized the need for strengthening environment-focused national legislation in order to accede to the Protocol.

Participants discussed the Preliminary Report, including the preparation procedure, the involvement of various sectors, and the decision-making processes as well as the existing national legislative framework of Belarus. They widely agreed on the essential need of the development of a legal, regulatory and technical framework in the field of environment protection to respond to the current ecological challenges. To reach this goal, the project “Linking Environment and Security in Belarus”, under the auspices of UNDP, UNEP and UNECE, and in the framework of the “Greening Economies in the Eastern Neighbourhood” (EaP GREEN) programme, aims to support the development of a comprehensive legal framework for international environmental cooperation in Belarus.

This project acknowledges that an improved and environment-friendly national legislation is the first step to identify and limit security risks from environmental hazards, and consequently to accede to the Protocol on SEA. The next task is to determine the most appropriate way forward to integrate the environmental laws required by the SEA Protocol into existing national legislation.

Addressing climate vulnerability in the Dniester river basin

Chisinau, Moldova - 09 July 2013

The Dniester River shared by Moldova and Ukraine will be affected by climate change, leading to warmer, wetter winters and hotter, drier summers. This is the conclusion of a study carried out within the UNECE-OSCE-UNEP project under the international Environment and Security initiative (ENVSEC) “Reducing vulnerability to extreme floods and climate change in the Dniester”.

The study predicts a temperature rise by 2050 and changes in precipitation leading to drier summers with less flow, but also more frequent and heavier rains in the basin. Flooding is a major transboundary problem for the Dniester; heavy floods in 2008 lead to several dozens of casualties and major financial losses. Climate impacts on water resources also have a cascading effect on the population of the basin and other sectors such as agriculture (decreasing the availability of water for irrigation, while increasing demand), power generation (reduced hydropower potential), recreation (water-linked tourism), fisheries and the state of biodiversity.

Representatives of different water users, sectors, regions and authorities along the Dniester River gathered on 9 July in Chisinau to discuss the risks and possible measures which can minimize the risks and protect the population, infrastructure and natural landscapes of the basin. Through round-table discussions focusing on climate change impacts in specific regions and sectors, as well as interactive group discussions, the workshop helped identify and prioritize climate change impacts and potential adaptation measures in the Dniester Basin. The participants suggested that climate change impacts on groundwater levels and runoff should be addressed through improved management of water reservoirs in the basin and better information exchange between Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova, especially in situations of extreme weather events, reforestation and the restoration of critical ecosystems.

The stakeholder workshop was held in the framework of the new project “Climate change and security in the Dniester basin” carried out by UNECE and OSCE, under the Environment and Security Initiative (ENVSEC) with funding from the EU Instrument for Stability (IfS) and the Austrian Development Agency, the operational unit of Austrian Development Cooperation. The new project was launched on 10 July, followed by the seventh meeting of the Working Group on Flood Management and Climate Change Adaptation.

Aarhus Centres Annual Meeting

Vienna, Austria - 03 July 2013 - 05 July 2013

To mark the tenth year of OSCE involvement in support of the Aarhus Convention, OSCE held a meeting entitled “Aarhus Centres: A Decade of Partnership in Implementing the Aarhus Convention” from 3 to 5 July 2013 in Vienna. It highlighted the role of the Aarhus Centres in putting the Convention’s principles into action. National Focal Points and other government representatives, Aarhus Centre Managers, NGOs, representatives of OSCE field operations as well as several international experts participated in the meeting to share experiences, lessons learned and best practices on the implementation of the Aarhus Convention and to enhance networking among Aarhus Centres. The event also aimed at strengthening capacities of Aarhus Centres and other Aarhus Convention national stakeholders on several priority issues related to the Convention.

Sava countries discuss the development of the programme for flood risk management

Zagreb, Croatia - 05 June 2013 - 06 June 2013

ENVSEC has launched a project that aims to assist the countries through which the Sava River flows - Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia - to adapt to climate change and anticipate flood risk. A draft programme has been developed that was discussed at a workshop in June organized by the International Sava River Basin Commission.

Flood Preparedness in the Dniester River Basin

Lviv, Ukraine - 27 May 2013 - 28 May 2013

A workshop on flood preparedness and managing climate change, organized by UNEP, facilitated improvements in the way the public is informed about floods in the Dniester River Basin. The May workshop, in Lviv, Ukraine, brought together representatives from the Governments of Ukraine and Moldova. Experts from the Environment Protection Agency (UK), the Institute of Meteorology and Water Management (Poland), OSCE and the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) also participated in this workshop.