Keeping the peace on World Environment Day

Fri, 29/06/18

The whole UN system came together to celebrate World Environment Day (WED) the first week of June, pledging to #BeatPlasticPollution.

From installing water fountains to introducing a ban on all disposable catering items, UN organisations have been very busy minimizing their plastic waste. UN peacekeeping missions also launched many initiatives to reduce their plastic footprint.

UN Peacekeeping

The UN peacekeeping missions are large and complex and are deployed in some of the world's most insecure areas, many of which lack established infrastructure or access to resources.

Using environmental performance and risk management strategies will help mitigate missions’ impact on local ecosystems and societies that are already under stress.

Since 2015, the Department of Field Support (DFS) has been increasing its focus on environmental management, which is now one of the top priorities for the Department. This focus was highlighted by a number of peacekeeping missions on this WED:

MINUSMA (Mali) - According to Mamadou Kanté, MINUSMA’s Environmental Officer in Gao, "MINUSMA is implementing ‘the four Rs’ of the DPKO/DFS waste management policy: Reduce, Reuse, Recover and Recycle, to encourage staff to control the amount of waste they produce.”To help reduce consumption reuse waste, used materials are transported to factories in the country’s capital city, Bamako, to be recycled or incinerated.

MINUSMA has also come up with an innovative and resourceful way to reduce the amount of plastic waste they produce by recycling it and using it with their 3D printer to produce useful items and spare parts.

MONUSCO (Democratic Republic of the Congo) - The mission has linked its waste management with local community projects in Goma that effectively support income generation in cooperation with NGOs. The revenue generated by reusing or recycling waste such as plastic bottles, is reinvested into local projects supporting some of the most vulnerable groups in Goma – orphaned children, women and ex-combatants – who produce handicraft such as bags.

UNIFIL (Lebanon) - The Italian contingent has started a project which aims to decrease the use of plastic in its camps and to produce compost out of food leftovers. Plastic cutlery has been banned and recycling bins installed in the contingent’s eating areas. More information on what UNIFIL is doing to beat plastic pollution can be found here

UNMISS (South Sudan) – There is an initiative to ban the use of plastic shopping bags by sales outlets on UNMISS compounds from 1 July 2018. There are also plans to ban disposable utensils and coffee mugs and to promote biodegradable and/or reusable alternatives instead. In addition to reducing consumption, UNMISS is also improving waste management by installing recycling stations at strategic locations within UN compounds for segregation of waste and recycling, and looking to compost organic waste.

MINUJUSTH (Haiti) – The mission joined forces with UN agencies in Haiti and organised a beach clean-up. All waste found was collected and transported to the mission’s base for recycling.

UNFICYP (Cyprus) - Peacekeepers serving with UN Cyprus cleaned up two beaches near mission locations.

Through initiatives like those above, as well as many others, DFS intends, by June of 2023, to realise its vision for the deployment of “responsible missions that achieve maximum efficiency in their use of natural resources and operate at minimum risk to people, societies and ecosystems; contributing to a positive impact on these wherever possible.” More about the Department’s vision and approach can be found in its Environmental Strategy.

Categories: Staff Engagement, Waste