(Check against delivery)
Thank KWT for the initiative of today´s Arria-formula meeting on the “Protection of the Environment during Armed Conflict”. Your country has lived through the devastating and lasting effects of environmental damage in the wake of armed conflict. This clearly shows that threats to the environment must indeed be part of addressing security challenges comprehensively.
Let me briefly touch upon three aspects:
First, as examined in last month’s debate on the role of natural resources as a root cause of conflict, a large number of armed conflicts have been partially funded by revenues from natural resources, including from illegal extraction of minerals and illicit wildlife trafficking. Therefore, one way to protect the environment against the effects of armed conflict is to increase accountability and transparency of resource extraction and trade. We will continue to promote open and accountable management of oil, gas and mineral resources by engaging in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). Other measures can include supporting local and community based settlement of resource-allocation disputes and supporting confidence-building measures.
Adressing climate change is essential to protecting the environment and lowering security risks linked to climate change. We must help preserve the environmental conditions necessary for maintaining human livelihoods for all – and with that also peaceful coexistence. To be able make better informed decisions we need a solid information base and risk assessment. The contributions of today’s panelists proved very valuable in this regard.
Second, in times of armed conflict, we need to ensure the implementation of International Humanitarian Law - in all its dimensions. This includes the principles and rules on distinction, proportionality, military necessity and precautions in attack. GA resolution 47/37 urges states to “take all measures to ensure compliance with the existing international law applicable to the protection of the environment also in times of armed conflict”. We thus need effective accountability in conflicts for violations of all existing legal obligations for the protection of the environment.
Third, in any post-conflict situation, the restoration of sustainable livelihoods is key. Healthy ecosystems and sustainably managed resources invariably are at the foundation for rebuilding conflict-torn societies. In this regard we commend UNEPs work on post-crisis environmental assessment and recovery. The contamination of land with landmines and other explosive remnants is directly relevant to this. Germany last year contributed 75 million euro to 30 projects in 14 countries and regions around the world – a record contribution for us. One of Germany’s most important partners in this area is the United Nations Mine Action Service. One last observation to conclude: Planting seeds of peace - this is both a very befitting description of the work of peacekeeping missions in general - but also an actual description of activities around yesterday’s ‘International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict’ which is marked every year on 6 November - for instance in Juba by UNMISS, where the mission has distributed actual seedlings to schools, who have planted them. I believe this is a great symbol for growing peace and hope.