'Transforming risks into cooperation'

REC to chair ENVSEC Initiative in 2013

January 17, 2013
A DELICATE BALANCE: Environmental security involves the establishment of an intricate set of international relationships. Photo: iStock

The ENVSEC Initiative comprises a partnership of six high-profile international organisations: the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the Regional Environment Center for Central and Eastern Europe (REC), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) as an associated partner. Launched in 2003, the ENVSEC Initiative provides an integrated response to environment and security challenges, and its mission is to contribute to the reduction of environment and security risks through strengthened cooperation among and within countries in four regions: Central Asia, Eastern Europe, the Southern Caucasus, and South-Eastern Europe.

The ENVSEC Management Board is the Initiative's key decision-making body, and is composed of representatives from each of the partner organisations, who chair it in turn on an annual basis. The Board provides guidance to the Initiative on overall strategy, regional priorities, the ENVSEC work programme and the budget. The REC has the honour of chairing the ENVSEC Management Board in 2013, the 10th anniversary of the Initiative.

The Initiative's day-to-day activities are coordinated by the ENVSEC Secretariat, which consists of a Coordination Unit  hosted by UNEP in Geneva, and four Regional Desk Officers (one per region) responsible for development, monitoring and reporting on implementation of regional work programmes and information-sharing.  Participating countries provide complementary expertise in the form of dedicated staff-usually in the form of National Focal Points that represent national ministries of environment and foreign affairs.

The year 2012, with the OSCE acting as chair, was a rewarding one for the ENVSEC Initiative. First, the finalisation and prioritised action plan for the Security Study provided the ENVSEC Initiative with tools for improving coherence while addressing security aspects, monitoring and communicating risks, and assessing lessons learned and practices. The ENVSEC Initiative continued to lay the foundation for a diversified donor base and developed two new multi-annual donor-funded programmes: with the Austria Development Agency in the South-Eastern Europe region, and with the European Commission's Instrument for Stability (IfS) in Eastern Europe, the Southern Caucasus and Central Asia, complementing the ENVSEC programmes funded by Austria, Finland and Sweden. Visibility of the ENVSEC Initiative was enhanced through a number of reports, project publications, articles and interviews in prominent journals, websites and networks, and an external evaluation revealed that ENVSEC "is working in themes and individual projects that are of enormous importance for the regions."


Looking forward, the ENVSEC Management Board, with the the REC acting as chair, will seek to achieve four broad objectives concerning the ENVSEC Initiative: to strengthen its security dimension; to simultaneously consolidate and widen its scope; to enhance its visibility; and to make it more sustainable.

The security dimension will be strengthened by implementing key recommendations related primarily to the risk nexus of climate, water, energy and food. Consolidation efforts will include advances in strategic and operational planning, while measures will also be taken to include regional neighbours involved in the Initiative. In addition, each partner will contribute the best of its expertise and knowledge to raise the profile of the ENVSEC Initiative in order to most effectively address emerging environmental and security threats. Finally, resource mobilisation efforts will continue throughout the year to achieve a broader diversified donor base.

Please click here to find out more about the ENVSEC Initiative.