Cablegate: Envsec Seeks Donor Assistance

DE RUEHGV #0028/01 0151128
R 151126Z JAN 10



E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: ENVSEC seeks donor assistance

REF: 09 GENEVA 895

1. SUMMARY: ENVSEC, the Environment & Security initiative of
several UN agencies, OSCE, NATO's Science for Peace and Security
Program and Regional Environment Center (REC) met December 4 with
donor countries to review progress in ongoing projects and discuss
how best in the future to address environment and human security,
including in armed conflicts. ENVSEC is actively looking to expand
its donor base and has identified a number of different ways
countries could support its initiatives. Even with an investment
of only modest resources, ENVSEC could serve as a useful platform
from which the U.S. could help mitigate specific environmental
problems, promote trans-border cooperation and address risks of
environmental security in the region. END SUMMARY.

2. At a meeting in Vienna on December 4, ENVSEC officials reviewed
projects currently underway in countries in Central Asia, South
Eastern Europe, the Southern Caucasus, and Eastern Europe. (Note:
for more background on ENVSEC's goals and activities, please see 09
GENEVA 895. End note.) In terms of improving oversight, ENVSEC
hopes in 2010 to establish national advisory groups, both to
identify national priorities and to target capacity building
assistance. ENVSEC also plans to use established Aarhus Centers in
the region to strengthen civil society engagement on environmental
issues, relay news of events and strengthen the public outreach
aspect of its activities. In terms of projects, ENVSEC plans to
focus on a range of transboundary issues, including climate change.
One consideration ENVSEC's management board has not finalized is
the question of enlargement, which can mean projects in new regions
as well as new international partners. By way of background,
ENVSEC is an initiative looking at environmental links to human
security. ENVSEC partners currently include the UN Development
Program, UNDP; the UN Environment Program, UNEP; the Organization
for Security Cooperation in Europe, OSCE; the North Atlantic Treaty
Organization, NATO; the UN Economic Commission for Europe, UNECE;
and the Regional Environmental Center, REC.

3. ENVSEC of course would welcome additional donor assistance.
This includes making contributions directly to the now operational
ENVSEC Trust Fund (managed by UNOPS), supporting individual
projects directly via the various ENVSEC organizations (UNDP, UNEP,
OSCE, UNECE, NATO, REC), providing in-kind technical expertise,
providing political support in a country with the host government
to facilitate ENVSEC's work there. Finland - as the current
largest donor (6 million euros, or about 9 million USD) - has
agreed to chair a new-style "ENVSEC Donors Forum". Other current
donors to the ENVSEC Trust Fund include Austria (soon to finalize a
500,000 euro contribution, about 725,000 USD) and Switzerland
(100,000 Swiss Francs, about USD 100,000). Canada - previously
ENVSEC's largest donor but whose contribution is now concluding -
reaffirmed its interest to stay involved with ENVSEC. Italy noted
that it funds a number of ENVSEC projects indirectly through
specific organizations (pointing to the REC's work in the Balkans)
and Sweden said there are "active discussions" going on in
Stockholm on how to increase its support - possibly through the
ENVSEC Trust Fund.

4. During the December 4 meeting, the German representative
lamented that Germany has only been involved in one project to
date, primarily because of the lack of visibility of projects in
the German MFA and the projects' cross-cutting nature. The UNDP
representative noted that now that ENVSEC funding has been
stabilized with Finland's contribution, ENVSEC will become
increasingly programmatic, so contributions of in-kind technical
expertise should become increasingly important.

5. After the meeting, Regional EST Off talked with OSCE's David
Swalley (who has been OSCE's point person for ENVSEC for several
years and a strong OSCE advocate for U.S. engagement in ENVSEC) and
noted that with regard to the idea of U.S. in-kind technical
expertise, it would be helpful to know more specifically on which
projects involvement of U.S. technical experts would be helpful.
Swalley agreed but said it would also be helpful to know what kinds
of projects or areas the U.S. would be interested in supporting.

6. COMMENT: The "chicken and egg" paradox would best be resolved
if interested Embassies could review existing ENVSEC projects where
U.S. involvement could be useful, or even propose new projects for

GENEVA 00000028 002 OF 002

possible funding for which we could make a case with relevant
Washington agencies. Further details on specific ENVSEC projects
(both ongoing and envisioned) can be found at

7. Both Central and Eastern European Regional EST officer and
Geneva ESA officer attended the meeting, underscoring the
importance of exchanging information among the USG actors who
represent the regions and the international organizations involved
in ENVSEC. ENVSEC projects are often transboundary in nature and
represent a new modus operandi within the UN that encourages
inter-organizational initiatives that better address complex
challenges that require a cross-cutting response.

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