Ecosystem Analysis (the Ecosystem Approach) is considered an important aspect by CCOE within its Advanced Cultural Competence programme. The rationale of the Ecosystem Approach becomes clear quickly when one examines the purpose of military operations: ensuring security and stability in conflict sensitive areas to enable civil society to thrive. It is a fact that no security can exist without ecological security: ecosystems provide products and services on which all people depend to maintain their living. Examples of what products and services people get from ecosystems are: clean water, food, and shelter. When people do not longer have access to these crucial necessities, it becomes impossible for them to create a living environment that can be sustained. In other words: there is no stability without sustainability. Therefore, in military operations, a comprehensive approach should be applied in order to consider impacts on the environment and stimulate the sustainable use of resources. This has been recognized as crucial fact by global organisations such as IUCN (International Union on the Conservation of Nature), UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) and IISD (International Institute for Sustainable Development).
Examining the environment and conflict situations shows that, often, there are clear links and interactions: environmental issues for instance can act as a (partial) cause of a conflict to occur, which is happening widespread nowadays with increasing ecological insecurity due to climate change impacts. During conflict, military operations can have both negative and advantageous impacts on the environment:
Destruction (e.g. forest cut off to provide for firewood needs in camps)
Over-utilisation (e.g. around refugee camps)
Fragmentation (disruption of ecological connectivity)
Advantageous impacts are for instance:
Military infrastructure providing for unique habitats for animals
Conservation/protection of nature areas due to isolation (e.g. no-go areas)
Especially when negative impacts are thriving during conflict situations, this can, combined with unstable management and institutional practices, lead to prolonged or new conflicts due to ‘new’ insecurity issues in particular areas.
To enable soldiers to consider environmental aspects when serving in military operations, a publication and training module are currently being developed within CCOE around the theme of the Ecosystem
Approach and, in particular, land- and water management. The module and publication will provide information and a stepwise approach to facilitate integration of environmental considerations in military operations. The stepwise approach will be designed in the form of a Rapid Environmental Assessment, where the three subsystems of the Ecosystem Approach are taken as starting point: the resource base (physical ecosystem), resource use (socio-economic system) and resource management (institutional system).
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