Underscoring the importance of environmental protection and management in the work of peacekeeping missions, the United Nations Department of Field Support has launched a new strategy to maximize its peace operations' efficiency in the use of natural resources, and to minimize their risk to people, societies and ecosystems.
“Environmental performance is crucial to ensure that we do no harm to the people we are mandated to protect,” said UN Under-Secretary-General and the head of DFS Atul Khare in New York at the launch of the strategy at Columbia University.
“We need to change our systems and we need to change our mind set,” he added. DFS is the key service provider to international peacekeeping operations, supporting both UN and non-UN peace missions, with nearly 168,000 authorized personnel, in over 30 countries.
The six-year strategy, which is in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), identifies challenges and objectives based on five pillars: energy; water and wastewater; solid waste; wider impact; and environmental management systems. It also includes key performance indicators for these areas.
Objectives have been set for the different pillars. Energy, for example, is essential for any mission but can have environmental impacts. Mr. Khare said the strategy's objective in relation to energy is to reduce overall demand through increased efficiency, to increase the proportion of energy from renewable sources (such as solar) and to reduce pollution levels.
In another area – water and wastewater – the objective is to conserve water and reduce the risks to personnel, local communities and ecosystems from wastewater management practices.
Mr Khare also emphasized the importance of proper treatment of wastewater, as well as of frequent monitoring of disposal practices. Objectives are also set out in three other areas.
Noting that the strategy is a “living document,” Mr. Khare said that it will continue to be refined and improved in light of new information and achievements. In his presentation, he also discussed relevant initiatives already under way to decrease peace operations' environmental impact.
You can see the executive summary of DFS’s new environmental strategy over on the UN Peacekeeping website.
Source: UN News Centre.