Oct. 17, 2018 —
United Nations Peacekeeping Operations (UNPKO) are deployed to create, maintain, and secure
peace in countries and regions struggling with violence and war. The environmental sustainability of UNPKO
mission sites is not essential to the purpose of each deployment, but good sustainability practices can benefit
the mission, host nation, troop-contributing countries, and the global environment. As a major contributor to
UNPKO efforts, the United States has a direct interest in improving the sustainability and cost-effectiveness
of each mission.
This paper identifies gaps in sustainability practices at local and organizational levels and
recommends an increased focus on sustainability practices that can benefit the mission, host nation, troopcontributing
countries, and the environment.
The United Nations Interim Force In Lebanon (UNIFIL) is a long-term mission, likely to be in place
for at least another five years. Investments in active technologies such as solar energy and electric vehicles are
already paying dividends. Expansion of these programs, as well as standardized environmental awareness
training and improvements to UNIFIL’s water management practices would enhance the sustainability of the
The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) is a
relatively recent mission, staffed with a high proportion of illiterate peacekeepers, in a politically unstable
country with a harsh natural environment. Although required by Security Council resolution to manage its
environmental impact, MINUSMA lacks the financial resources, manpower and timeline to invest in complex
technologies with up-front cost. To comply with its environmental mandate, the mission should implement
short-term, passive measures to improve water management and solar/thermal protection, as well as
standardized environmental awareness training. If the situation in Mali stabilizes and MINUSMA is extended
to a longer mandate, then the mission should follow the lead of UNIFIL and implement active technologies
that are environmentally friendly and will save money over the life of the equipment.
All of these recommendations can be applied, to some extent, to all UNPKO deployments. UN
headquarters should take the lead in standardizing environmental training, technology and practices for all UNPKO missions. Cost-benefit calculations will always be important, but the overall benefit of good
sustainability practices will extend to people and the environment from the local to the global level.
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