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Cablegate: The Environment and Security Initiative

VZCZCXRO4624
RR RUEHDBU RUEHPOD RUEHSK
DE RUEHGV #0895/01 2931411
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 201411Z OCT 09
FM USMISSION GENEVA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9725
INFO RUEHTA/AMEMBASSY ASTANA 2243
RUEHEK/AMEMBASSY BISHKEK 0251
RUEHDBU/AMEMBASSY DUSHANBE 0016
RUEHAH/AMEMBASSY ASHGABAT 0162
RUEHNT/AMEMBASSY TASHKENT 0007
RUEHTI/AMEMBASSY TIRANA 1479
RUEHVJ/AMEMBASSY SARAJEVO 0071
RUEHSF/AMEMBASSY SOFIA 1228
RUEHVB/AMEMBASSY ZAGREB 1113
RUEHSQ/AMEMBASSY SKOPJE 1177
RUEHBM/AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST 0974
RUEHBW/AMEMBASSY BELGRADE 0006
RUEHPOD/AMEMBASSY PODGORICA
RUEHPS/AMEMBASSY PRISTINA 0102
RUEHSK/AMEMBASSY MINSK 0010
RUEHCH/AMEMBASSY CHISINAU 0171
RUEHKV/AMEMBASSY KIEV
RUEHYE/AMEMBASSY YEREVAN 0129
RUEHKB/AMEMBASSY BAKU 0227
RUEHSI/AMEMBASSY TBILISI 0704
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 0660

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 GENEVA 000895

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR OES/PCI, OES/ENV, IO/HS, IO/GS, EUR/ACE, EUR/RPM

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV UNEP EPA
SUBJECT: The Environment and Security Initiative

1. SUMMARY: The Environment and Security Initiative (ENVSEC) is a
collaborative effort between multiple international organizations to
assess and address environmental problems that threaten security,
stability and peace across borders, particularly in conflict
regions. It also utilizes environmental issues as a vehicle to
promote cooperation between countries where cooperation on other
issues is limited or not possible due to political factors. ENVSEC,
particularly its Caucasus program, closely fits with many USG goals
in the region - strengthening the role of civil society
organizations, raising the public profile of environmental issues in
the region, leveraging environmental issues to spur cross-border
dialogues on issues of common interest, and showing support for
OSCE's role in the Caucasus. The international organizations
driving ENVSEC are asking for U.S. engagement - a plea the U.S.
should seriously consider. END SUMMARY

---------------------------
ENVSEC GOALS AND GOVERNANCE
---------------------------

2. The Environment and Security Initiative (ENVSEC), established in
2003, is a partnership organization between the United Nations
Environment Program (UNEP), the United Nations Development Program
(UNDP), the Organization for the Security and Cooperation in Europe
(OSCE), the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE),
and the Regional Environment Center for Central and Eastern Europe
(REC); NATO is an associated member through its Science for Peace
and Security Programme. ENVSEC's mandate is to increase cooperation
around environment and security issues through policy integration,
capacity-building in government institutions, environmental hot-spot
risk mitigation, and strengthening civil society. Its Secretariat is
co-hosted by the UN Environment Program Geneva office.

3. ENVSEC's Advisory Board is comprised of donors, national
government representatives from recipient countries, and scientific
and policy advisors. The Advisory Board meets annually to provide
guidance for ENVSEC's initiatives. The partnership has over 80
projects in four geographic areas: Central Asia, South-Eastern
Europe, Eastern Europe, and the South Caucasus.

--------------
REGIONAL FOCUS
--------------

4. ENVSEC purposefully structures its projects by region, bringing
neighboring countries together on trans-boundary environmental
issues to promote confidence-building.

5. ENVSEC's Central Asia programs include Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan,
Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. These programs focus on
management of land and water resources, industrial pollution,
mitigation of natural disasters, capacity building for radioactivity
analysis, hazardous waste disposal, and environmental health.
Additionally, ENVSEC supports media tours and training courses for
journalists, and has opened several Public Environmental Information
Centers.

6. The South-Eastern Europe programs include Albania, Bosnia and
Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of
Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo. ENVSEC has 23
planned, ongoing, or completed projects in the region, such as a
UNEP-led Rapid Assessment of the Tisza River Basin, an on-going
UNDP-led project to reduce the impact of agriculture in Albania and
the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

7. The Eastern Europe programs include Belarus, Moldova, and
Ukraine. Conflict, such as in the Transnistria region in Moldova,
has weakened national and local responses to environmental threats.
In addition to other regional programs, ENVSEC launched an

GENEVA 00000895 002 OF 002


environmental assessment in Ukraine (with the support of Ukrainian
government officials and partner organizations) in 2008.

------------------------------------
SOUTH CAUCUSES AND GEORGIAN CONFLICT
------------------------------------

8. The Southern Caucuses programs include Armenia, Azerbaijan, and
Georgia. Among the environmental concerns identified by ENVSEC in
the Southern Caucasus are the management of shared natural
resources, pollution from ageing industries and irrigation networks,
and uncontrolled growth of capital cities. However, the 2008
Georgia-Ossetia conflict has been a significant barrier to ENVSEC
operation, as there is no cooperation between Georgian and de facto
South Ossetian authorities.

9. ENVSEC orchestrates multiple efforts to emphasize international
cooperation and peace in the Southern Caucuses, including a UNEP and
OSCE-led project on Environmental Confidence-Building in Areas of
Frozen Conflict, and a project to open environmental clubs in the
conflict zones in order to foster environmental dialogues among
students and local populations. The end goal of these dialogues is
to organize government-supported, in-depth environmental assessments
in order to remove government uncertainty regarding the
environmental conditions therein. A Geneva-based UNEP
representative noted that "many nations in this region do not have a
solid relationship with one another, and environment is the only
policy field upon which they have begun to agree."

10. Building on a meeting that ENVSEC organized between Georgia,
Azerbaijan, and Armenia to discuss forest fire management in terrain
contaminated by unexploded objects, land mines, and radioactivity,
an official conference, "Wildfires and Human Security," was held in
October 2009. The highly technical conference drew broad
participation, including additional officials from Croatia,
Macedonia, Turkey, France, US, Germany, and Ukraine. NATO recently
finished a six-year long Southern Caucuses River Monitoring Project
in the Kura-Aras river basin, part of a long-term project to
establish a trans-boundary river monitoring system. Additionally,
Civic Action for Security and Environment (CASE) is a small grant
program aimed at strengthening the capacity of civil society
organizations to address environment and security challenges.

-------
Comment
-------

11. The USG, in its limited role as informal observer, has provided
moral support, but not contributed to or funded ENVSEC or its
projects and programs. UNEP and OSCE representatives request
greater USG involvement. The Regional Hub officer in Budapest noted
that ENVSEC, particularly its Caucasus program, closely fits with
many USG goals in that region: strengthening the role of civil
society organizations, raising the public profile of environmental
issues in the region, leveraging environmental issues to spur
cross-border dialogues on issues of common interest, and showing
support for OSCE's role in the Caucasus.

12. ENVSEC has demonstrated its value in the Southern Caucasus and
elsewhere. Given our strategic goals in the region the USG may want
to increase its engagement with ENVSEC. One way this could be done
is through joining other donor countries, such as Canada, which is
the largest donor to ENVSEC. UNEP would like to expand the CASE
small grants project in Georgia; perhaps this is the right entry
point for USG to support projects and activities in ENVSEC countries
and regions.

GRIFFITHS#

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