Armed conflict, environmental protection and the Sustainable Development Goals

Armed conflict, environmental protection and the Sustainable Development Goals

Unless the international community does more to protect and restore the environment from the impact of armed conflict, many countries will fail to meet the Sustainable Development Goals, writes Doug Weir. This year will see the second biennial meeting of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA), the new, and it is hoped more politically influential incarnation of the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Governing Council. One of UNEA-2’s joint themes this year is “delivering the environmental dimension of the Sustainable Development Goals” (SDGs). The SDGs, which replaced the Millennium Development […]

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Using citizen science to assess environmental damage in the Syrian conflict

Using citizen science to assess environmental damage in the Syrian conflict

For new and ongoing conflicts across the world, the need to document their impact on civilians and the environment upon which they depend is encouraging the development of new research tools and methodologies. Traditional approaches for monitoring environmental risks are notoriously reliant on field access for experts. But with civilians increasingly able to access the Internet and mobile networks, and with their growing use by warring parties, new opportunities are being created for the collection of environmental data, by experts and civilians alike.   Following on from the blog Online […]

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Watching the world burn: Islamic State attacks against Libya’s oil industry

Watching the world burn: Islamic State attacks against Libya’s oil industry

Contrary to other armed groups in Libya, the strategy behind the Islamic State’s attacks on oil facilities this week is not purely military. It is also part of a wider strategy calling for the disruption of the oil industry, not only to affect opposing regimes but also western society and the global economy. Damage to oil facilities can have severe negative consequences for the environment and public health. Interestingly, Al Qaida’s strategist Abdullah bin Nasser al-Rashid wrote guidelines for attacks on the oil industry, which also took into account environmental […]

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What states said on conflict and the environment at the UN last week and why it matters

What states said on conflict and the environment at the UN last week and why it matters

Last week, quite a lot of governments said quite a lot of things about 2015’s report from the International Law Commission on legal protection for the environment during armed conflicts. This blog takes a look at what was said, who said it, why it matters and what it tells us about the hopes for more effective protection for the environment from the impact of armed conflict. Shortly after the UN’s Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict, the UN General Assembly’s Sixth Committee (legal matters) […]

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New report: Environmental Mechanics – Re-imagining Post-conflict Environmental Assistance

New report: Environmental Mechanics – Re-imagining Post-conflict Environmental Assistance

To mark the UN’s environment and conflict day 2015, the Toxic Remnants of War Project has published a major new report that explores how a more formalised system of post-conflict assistance could increase the protection of civilians and their environment, and help to create and strengthen norms against environmentally destructive military behaviours. Why have we written it? For the last forty years, legal scholars have been debating how legal protection for the environment before, during and after armed conflict could be strengthened. Since 2009, the debate has been given added […]

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New desk study on Syria identifies pollution risks to civilians

New desk study on Syria identifies pollution risks to civilians

The ongoing conflict in Syria is likely to have a disastrous impact on the environment and public health, according to a new study published by PAX. Four years of fighting has left cities in rubble and caused widespread damage to industrial sites, critical infrastructure and the oil industry. Pollution from these forms of damage is likely to result in acute and chronic risks to civilians and will have a long-term impact on the environment that they depend on. “With the additional attacks by Russia in or near Aleppo, which has […]

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Introducing the Toxic Remnants of War Network

Introducing the Toxic Remnants of War Network

Damage to the natural environment has long been a hallmark of conflict. But technological developments, both in terms of how hostilities are conducted, and the locations in which wars are fought, are increasing the risk of serious long-term environmental damage, and with it, threats to the civilian population. From Ukraine, to Libya, Iraq, Syria and Gaza, environmental damage is threatening lives and livelihoods and increasing the vulnerability of communities. There is a consensus view among legal scholars and, increasingly, international organisations and some states, that International Humanitarian Law’s current provisions […]

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Ukraine conflict – 24 months of urgent environmental recovery will cost $30m

Ukraine conflict – 24 months of urgent environmental recovery will cost $30m

The environmental costs of the ongoing Ukraine conflict are still to be fully quantified but an EU-UN-World Bank needs assessment has called for US$30m to fund urgent environmental recovery over the next two years. With UNEP still unable to assess or begin restoring the damage on the ground due to insecurity, this sum, which already far exceeds that for UXO management is only likely to grow. Shortly after Zoi Environment Network and the TRWP published a first look at the environmental damage from the Ukraine conflict, the EU, UN and […]

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Vatican encyclical: “War always does grave harm to the environment”

Vatican encyclical: “War always does grave harm to the environment”

The Vatican’s latest encyclical ‘Care for Our Common Home’ has triggered much rejoicing from the environmental movement, and justifiably so, coming as it does in the run up to the latest round of climate change negotiations. But in questioning the global economic order and its depredations on the planetary environment, Pope Francis has also sought to communicate a wide range of problems that have blocked progress on environmental protection. There will be much interest in the repercussions from what many may view as a radical agenda for global environmental reform. […]

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Conflict in Yemen: lessons for citizen environmental monitoring

Conflict in Yemen: lessons for citizen environmental monitoring

The conflict in Yemen is likely to have produced a range of TRW threats for the civilian population but in common with other conflicts, data on environmental risks has been largely absent from the discourse or has been subject to media distortion. Andy Garrity considers whether the approaches used to document the use of cluster munitions during the fighting could help inform citizen and activist data collection on conflict pollution. The Houthi militia uprising in Yemen in 2014 saw the internationally recognised President Abd Rabbuh Mansu Hadi flee to neighbouring […]

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