UN to minimise environmental footprint of its peace operations
United Nations, Dec 1 The UN Department of Field Support (DFS) has launched a new strategy to maximize its peace operations' efficiency in the use of natural resources, an official said.
The operations will be aimed at minimising risk to people, societies and ecosystems, underscoring the importance of environmental protection and management in the work of UN peacekeeping missions, Xinhua news reported on Thursday.
"Environmental performance is crucial to ensure that we do no harm the people we are mandated to protect," said the UN Under Secretary General and the head of DFS, Atul Khare, in New York at the launch of the strategy on Wednesday.
"We need to change our systems and we need to change our mind set," he said speaking at the Columbia University.
The 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 more than 30 countries.
The six-year strategy is in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
It identifies challenges and objectives based on five pillars -- energy; water and wastewater; solid waste; wider impact; and environmental management systems.
In its first phase -- through July 2020 -- the strategy will focus on improving environmental analytics to effectively monitor progress.
The five pillars will then be reviewed and specific targets set for the second phase of strategy implementation to conclude in June 2023.
On energy, Khare said the strategy's objective was to reduce overall demand through increased efficiency, increase the proportion of energy from renewable sources such as solar arrays and reduce the level of pollution.
On water, he highlighted the objective was to conserve water and reduce the level of risk to personnel, local communities and ecosystems from wastewater management practices.
He also emphasised the importance of proper treatment of wastewater, as well as of frequent monitoring of disposal practices.
Noting that the strategy is a "living document," Khare said that it would continue to be refined and improved in light of new information and achievements.
He also discussed relevant initiatives already under way to decrease peace operations' environmental impact.