#60 | Environment as a victim of war and armed conflicts, with Nikolai Denisov, Zoï Environment Network, consultant to the OSCE, the UN & other organizations

Join us today for an unusual, yet exciting episode on a multidimensional topic: the intersection of environmental protection and conflict mitigation.

Together with expert Nikolai Denisov, we explore the hidden impact of war and conflict on the environment to raise awareness about the importance of preventing issues at the roots, instead of mitigating the consequences “when the conflict is already burning”.

Nikolai will further walk us through what it means to include social impact and relations when conducting environmental assessments, as well as how different actors of society can participate in preventing environmental degradation during the conflict.

We’ll particularly dive into the role of intergovernmental institutions and programs, such as the UNEP and OSCE.

Tune in and let us know your thoughts!

What you’ll learn: 

  • How wars and conflicts lead to environmental degradation;
  • How to prevent environmental exploitation during times of conflict;
  • Examples of different socio-political contexts and their influence on the relationship between conflict and environmental rights.

Books & other resources mentioned:

Zoï Environment Network: https://zoinet.org/

UNEP: www.unenvironment.org

OSCE: https://www.osce.org

Movie: Scarred Lands and Wounded Lives

Quotes of the guest:

We try to see how the environment can be connected to relations between countries, people, parts of the same country, groups etc. And in that respect, it’s more than environmental science. It is also a bit of social research. It means we also have to talk to different people to understand their perspective. Security is a notion of perception.

When the conflict is already burning, nobody will listen to the expert on the environment anymore.

Wars come and go but the environment stays. It’s very costly to restore it. It’s much better to protect it in the first place.

One piece of advice: 

We need to discuss issues regarding environmental protection during conflict times well in advance. Prevention is the best solution because it allows us to think about the matter with clarity and intention.

During the conflict, new priorities emerge, often urgent, that will take away the space of mind and time to integrate environmental concerns into decision-making.

It will also become much more difficult to act on these concerns when the first responsibility becomes to protect human lives. We probably won’t have enough resources to tackle all too many issues at once.

But taking measures to protect the environment today can make all the difference.

Depending on the situation, they can even help prevent conflicts in the first place.