The NATO Environmental Protection Working Group celebrates its 25th meeting

The NATO Environmental Protection Working Group celebrates its 25th meeting

From 9-11 November 2022, the NATO Environmental Protection Working Group (EPWG) held its plenary meeting at NATO Headquarters in Brussels. The plenary session focused on the hybrid event marking the 25th meeting of the EPWG, highlighting NATO’s continued interest in protecting the environment and its cross-cutting dimensions.

The focus of this year’s EPWG plenary was the hybrid event held to celebrate the 25th meeting. The celebration brought together interested staff, subject matter experts and stakeholders in environmental protection, climate change, energy security and emerging security challenges from both allied and partner nations. Opening the event, Director of NATO’s Office of Standardization, Major General Dimitrios Sigolakis, emphasized the value of EPWG in setting environmental protection standards in NATO’s military activities and in providing support and expertise for Alliance-wide innovation. He stressed that, “Standardization and interoperability remain the cornerstones of collaboration within our alliance. At the same time, we see innovation as becoming paramount to remain relevant.”

In his congratulatory speech, the Deputy Assistant Secretary-General for Emerging Security Challenges, Mr. James Appathurai, commended the Working Group for its continued support. “The impacts of climate change such as floods and droughts, disrupted access to resources, loss of land and livelihoods, more extreme weather events and other deteriorating environmental conditions have been clearly identified as multiplying the threat to instability, conflict and terrorism. We must adapt to the impact of climate change on security and to try to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. He noted that working with the EPWG gives my divisions access to better and more specialized expertise in this field, and we are grateful for the fruitful cooperation.”

The festive event continued with briefings and discussions on the synergies between environmental protection and associated areas, such as security and climate change mitigation, and contributions to energy security and carbon-neutral energy supplies, particularly important in the current security context following Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.

In conjunction with the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, the Environmental Action Forum (EPWG) provided a unique platform to discuss the benefits of increased coordination and cooperation between the areas of environmental protection, energy security and climate change. EPWG President, Mr. Jeroen Rottink noted, “Environmental protection is a cross-cutting field that supports many areas. By increasing the sharing of our experiences and identifying more synergies, the EPWG can contribute significantly to improving energy security and mitigating the effects of climate change. This is important Especially because of the current geopolitical situation and the rapidly changing climate of the Earth.”

The rest of the program was divided into plenary sessions, focused on integrating environmental protection into procurement and defense planning, and potential synergies with climate change mitigation and energy security. Participants also received updates from NATO Strategic Commands, Allied Command Operations, and Allied Command Transformation, on their respective environmental protection activities.

The EPWG took the opportunity and commended Senior Adviser on Partnership Cooperation and NATO’s Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Program, Dr. Deniz Peten Yuksel for her valuable contributions to environmental protection in the framework of cooperation with partners.

As early as 1969, NATO recognized environmental challenges by creating the Committee on Challenges of Modern Society (CCMS). This work led to the creation of the EPWG in 1999. Today, the EPWG is under the Military Committee’s Joint Standards Board and is supported by the NATO Standardization Office. The EPWG develops standards to reduce the environmental footprint of the armed forces, while maintaining operational effectiveness and readiness. Provides a platform for exchanging experiences between allied and partner countries.

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