DFS briefs Member States on its environment strategy

Wednesday, 06 December 2017

New York | DFS

On 17 November, Atul Khare, Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, and Joanna Harvey, Chief of DFS Environment Section, briefed ambassadors and military advisers from over seventy countries on the past year of implementation of the environment strategy.

The Department of Field Support (DFS) launched its environment strategy at the beginning of 2017, with a goal to deploy “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” by June 2023.

Mr. Khare talked about the importance of environmental management, not only to ensure that we ‘do no harm’, but also for reasons of operational effectiveness.

He explained that solar and water recycling results in low exposure of personnel to risk of asymmetric attacks on fuel and water convoys.  Khare outlined some of the challenges in effective environmental performance and shared his concerns about mixed past performance in this area.

“Improving our performance is not an easy task, and not one that will happen overnight. But with your support, we think that it is possible to achieve it,” Khare said.

Ms. Harvey outlined progress made by Department of Field Support in relation to energy, water, and waste since the launch. She noted that a performance and risk management framework is now in place to improve visibility and accountability for Member States. The framework helps mission managers identify and resolve problems at the technical level. 

The second half of the briefing was dedicated to an open discussion. The countries that took the floor affirmed their support for the environment strategy.

Many countries that host peace operations were present. The Permanent Representatives of Mali and Sudan, in particular, expressed their strong support for environmental management efforts underway in their countries.  Member States announced the creation of a Group of Friends on Environment, which will provide a venue for the Department of Field Support to seek advice and guidance on these issues when needed.