The urgent deployment of thousands of civilian, police and military personnel requires a large amount of logistical support. Peacekeeping personnel often operate in the world's hardest-to-reach places and in countries with very little infrastructure. This requires most peace operations to generate their own electrical power and use a fleet of vehicles and aircrafts to manage operations and logistics, which emit greenhouse gases and cause potential soil pollution.
Large operations also generate a lot of solid waste (hazardous and non-hazardous) and require the use of potable and non-potable water, subsequently producing wastewater. These waste products, if not handled correctly, can negatively impact the host country's environment.
In some places like northern Mali, where water is a scarce resource, the local community may see the UN mission as a resource competitor.
UN Peacekeeping recognizes this potential damage and has developed an overarching policy to manage environmental issues with the UN Department of Operational Support (DOS). DOS is also implementing a six-year strategy on environmental management, aiming by June of 2023, to realize its vision to support the deployment of “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.”
Since the inception of the Strategy, tailored wastewater and solid waste risk assessment methodologies have been provided by DOS to the various peacekeeping missions; so each mission can make on-site risk assessments on a regular basis and promptly implement any needed corrective actions. This work is formally reported by missions twice a year through the eApp* (Environment Action Planning Performance) which is a new online application.
In UNIFIL, South Lebanon, focal points from 15 missions gathered during the week of World Water Day 2019 for training on high capacity wastewater treatment plants. In the following year, several missions have replicated what they had learned on that occasion.
In 2019, UNMISS has been the first mission to pilot the Environment Risk Assessment (currently for wastewater risk) (ERAw²) application in the field. The app is used to facilitate identification of wastewater risk directly on site, by enabling real time data collection combined with geospatial information.
Since 2018, UNSOS has been developing its waste management plan that aims at source reduction and maximizing waste recovery through recycling. The Mission is now fully self-reliant with most of the non-recyclable and non-hazardous waste incinerated within its facilities. UNSOS is also a pioneer in the implementation of the centralized waste management yards concept, along with UNISFA.
For more information about our efforts to reduce our environmental footprint and more examples of good practices, please visit UN field support pages on the environment.
*eApp: this application, replacing the previous Excel format of the MEAP (Mission wide Environmental Action Plan), has been launched as of July 2020. The eAPP software is a dedicated online platform for peace operations to use in improving their environmental performance and risk management. It provides tools for data collection, validation, approval and reporting, as well as analytics and visualization to support decision-making