Greening Peacekeeping: The Environmental Impact of UN Peace Operations

Since the 2000s, UN peace operations have increasingly had to address environmental challenges related to their own impact and the conditions in which they operate. Missions, particularly large deployments in arid, land-locked countries, can have significant environmental impacts on countries the UN is seeking to assist. In response, the UN is increasingly focusing on how it can mitigate the environmental consequences of its operations. Demonstrating the growing attention to this issue, a “Group of Friends Leading on Environmental Management in the Field,” co-chaired by Bangladesh and Italy, has recently been created to advocate for further implementation of the Environment Strategy of the UN Department of Field Support (DFS).

IPI’s policy paper on the environmental impact of UN peace operations summarizes the issues at stake and examines the institutional arrangements set up to mitigate and prevent environmental damage in the context of UN peace operations. It assesses the limits of DFS’ environmental strategy, both in its implementation and in its conceptualization of the footprint of missions. It further discusses these issues based on the case of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), with a detailed focus on Camp Castor in Gao. Based on this analysis, it suggests a series of recommendations to strengthen financial and human resources dedicated to environmental issues in missions and at headquarters; to mainstream eco-friendly practices through training and best practices; to advocate for stronger oversight through systematic data collection; to carefully build local capacity through local outsourcing; and to improve current indicators.