Towards an environmental and climate-sensitive approach to protection in United Nations peacekeeping operations – World
Environmental degradation, including degradation caused by climate change, armed conflict or illegal resource exploitation, can be a catalyst for violence against civilians. Where environmental degradation contributes to violence, UN peacekeeping operations should include environmental and climate security considerations in their assessment and planning, as well as in the implementation of their related mandated activities. to protection.
While several missions have environment and climate-related language in their mandates, so far they have primarily focused on reducing their environmental footprint. Nevertheless, given the number of missions that operate in contexts affected by climate change, the UN Department of Peace Operations (DPO) has signaled its intention to focus more on climate-related security threats, including by joining the Climate Security Mechanism in December 2021. However, peacekeeping operations could take additional steps to better integrate environmental and climate-related risks into their protection-related planning and activities.
By including environmental and climatic factors in assessments and planning, UN peacekeeping operations could prevent conflict more effectively, including by identifying potential hotspots of resource-related violence. There are also opportunities for missions to integrate environmental and climate considerations more systematically into protection-related activities, including support for environmental peacebuilding and mediation. In addition, missions could work with state and non-state actors to strengthen the rules of international humanitarian law relating to respect for the natural environment in armed conflict and help build national capacities and expertise to promote accountability in matters of natural environment protection. Finally, collaboration with United Nations country teams is essential for missions to address the root causes of environmental degradation that go beyond their mandates, especially when preparing transition strategies. and out.
Although some missions are already adopting good practices in this regard, these efforts could be more systematic and missions could continue to explore new approaches. Similarly, at headquarters, while DPO has taken incremental steps to increase its commitment to climate security, these steps should only be the beginning, especially as environmental conditions deteriorate in the coming years.