OSCE and UN sign agreement to tackle environmental threats to security

The OSCE and two UN agencies have agreed on new efforts to fight environmental threats to security.

VIENNA, Nov. 17, 2003 -- The OSCE and two UN agencies have agreed on new efforts to fight environmental threats to security.

Under an agreement signed in Vienna this morning, the three international organizations will jointly adress problems such as water scarcity, hazardous waste, soil degradation and pollution.

The agreement formalizes co-operation between the OSCE, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) under their joint Environment and Security Initiative (ENVSEC).

+ACI-The first phase of ENVSEC served to identify the critical issues and areas under threat,+ACI- said Marcin Swiecicki, the Co-ordinator for OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities.

+ACI-Now comes the real work to put these issues higher on the political agenda and facilitate action to deal with the threats.+ACI-

Frits Schlingemann, Director of the UNEP Regional Office for Europe, drew parallels between the work of the ENVSEC and the recently signed agreement on the Caspian Sea, in which he served as a key facilitator: +ACI-By presenting facts and issues to decision-makers, political will to take action can be mobilized.+ACI-

The Deputy Director of UNDP's Regional Centre for Europe and CIS, Erdal Esin, said: +ACI-The key aspect is to combine the strengths of our organizations -- in the environmental, social and security field.+ACI-

The ENVSEC initiative was launched in 2002 when the three organizations decided to join forces to assess environmental problems in two pilot regions, south-eastern Europe and Central Asia.

First results were presented at the OSCE Economic Forum in Prague and at a ministerial meeting, Environment for Europe, in Kyiv, both held in May 2003.

In addition to the pilot regions, the three-year work programme will also cover the countries of the southern Caucasus and Eastern Europe.

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