Institute for Environmental Security
Advancing Global Environmental Security through
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IES supports European Citizen’s Initiative launched at European Parliament
On 22 January 2013, the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) ‘End Ecocide in Europe’ was officially launched at the European Parliament. Staff members of IES were invited to attend the event. Among the guests were three Members of the European Parliament - Eva Joly, Jo Leinen, and Keith Taylor - who were the first to sign the Initiative.
This Initiative is closely connected to the international campaign ‘Eradicating Ecocide’, led by eminent international lawyer Polly Higgins. She defines ecocide as ‘the extensive damage to, destruction of or loss of ecosystem(s) of a given territory, whether by human agency or by other causes, to such an extent that peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants of that territory has been or will be severely diminished’.
The organisers of the ECI will have one year to collect one million signatures from European citizens, proportionally distributed by the size of each country. If the campaign ‘End Ecocide in Europe’ succeeds, the organisers will have the opportunity to present their Initiative in a public hearing at the European Parliament and to propose their Draft Ecocide Directive. Subsequently, the European Commission will adopt a formal response spelling out what action it will propose in response to the citizens' initiative, if any, and the reasons for doing or not doing so.
On 5 November 2012, IES and Ecojust organised a workshop on ‘Ecocide: Developing a View from The Hague’. The event was attended by eighteen international legal and environmental experts, with Polly Higgins as special guest speaker. The focus was on discussing the matter from the perspective of The Hague as ‘Legal Capital of the World’ and in particular the issue of how legal institutions in The Hague could include ecocide as part of their mandate, making ecocide an international crime.
Speaking at the workshop, Reinhold Gallmetzer from the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) said:
“There is indeed a lack of precise legislation on ecocide. It may help to ‘crystallize’ the situation to have reflections from the perspective of the Office of the Prosecutor, which of course looks at existing law and does not create new law. The only provision in the Rome Statute where damage to the environment is explicitly mentioned is the Article on War Crimes (Art 8(2)(b)(iv) . Environmental crimes such as pollution of water wells and destruction of ecosystems can also be seen in the light of the crime against humanity.
The ‘body’ has to be dealt with at the national level, but the ICC can play a leading role. The deterrent role of the ICC is important here and more and more national governments are paying attention to what the ICC is doing.
Bringing ecocide under the Statute has to be pursued, but it is a very lengthy process: it requires 4/5 of all member states to ratify an amendment, which may take decades. In the meantime, make creatively use of existing tools on all levels.”
Wouter Veening, President of IES, elaborated on these tools, adding that:
“In the legal world, support for creating a body of law on Earth Rights is gaining momentum, including the human right to a clean environment. This all needs strong international vocalisation. Public awareness of ecocide as a crime is also important to support campaigns on more specific issues, for example, to build a case against the perpetrators of climate change.”
IES is supporting the ‘End Ecocide in Europe’ campaign especially in the Netherlands where the campaign coordinator, Kirsty Donald, is working to obtain the required 19,500 signatures among Dutch residents.
 “Intentionally launching an attack in the knowledge that such attack will cause incidental loss of life or injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects or widespread, long-term and severe damage to the natural environment which would be clearly excessive in relation to the concrete and direct overall military advantage anticipated”.
Using Earth Observation for Verification of Mining Activities
9 November 2012
GAF AG, together with the Institute for Environmental Security (IES), the Bonn International Center for Conversion (BICC) and the German Aerospace Center (DLR) are pleased to announce the launch of the SYMIN Project’s new website. The website aims to showcase how Earth
Observation (EO) can assist mining authorities with the regulation of informal mining activities through the detection of informal mining sites.
The SYMIN Project focuses specifically on five pilot areas in Afghanistan which are rich in coal, gold, gemstones as well as quarries. It is demonstrated that satellite-based remote sensing can be an efficient tool for area-wide mapping and monitoring of informal mining activities in remote, poorly accessible or security sensitive areas.
Based on very high resolution (VHR) optical images data, stereo data and radar-based coherence
analysis, together with other geo-data such as mining cadastre information, our team is able to extract information such as the location and description of mining activities as well as the presence of infrastructure.
This information is then used to create up-to-date reconnaissance maps and dossiers with a description of current mining activities in order to facilitate the work of in-situ mines inspectors.
Dr. Stefan Saradeth - GAF Director of International Consulting - comments: "GAF offers globally a
comprehensive service package to mining authorities - this includes capacity building and
consulting, training and know-how transfer up to geoinformation- and software solutions.
SYMIN combined with our new mobile GIS offers exciting new options for mining inspectors."
It is hoped that the SYMIN website will contribute to raise awareness on the possibilities offered by satellite-based remote sensing for the detection and monitoring of informal mining activities aimed at law enforcement agencies dealing with remote and sensitive areas throughout the world.
New Developments in Climate Change and Security
6 November 2012
On 6 November 2012, the IES organised a seminar on “Climate & Security Envoys – New Developments in Climate Change and Security” in the European Parliament where a distinguished group of speakers examined the role of climate and security envoys.
The meeting was organised in cooperation with Indrek Tarand, MEP (Rapporteur for Dossier: Role of the Common Security and Defence Policy in case of climate driven crises and natural disaster) and held under the auspices of the Cyprus Presidency of the Council of the European Union
Brussels, 17 Sep 2012
28 October 2012
Food scarcity, natural disasters, the management and distribution of scarce water resources, and the interruption of vital energy supplies are examples of seemingly unrelated factors that can have an effect on security.
On 17 September2012, a NATO workshop was held to look at how such factors and vulnerabilities interact, how they could affect NATO member states and ways in which the Alliance could respond to these security risks.
IES Senior Advisor and Vienna Representative, Marc Baltes, and IES Senior Advisor, Ikaros Moushouttas, were among the expert participants. IES Fellow, Dr Chad Briggs and Dr Tracy Walstrom Briggs – both experts from the Air University Minerva Initiative on Energy and Environmental Security at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama, the United States – developed the scenario-building approach.
The workshop was not about predicting future crises but instead focused on better understanding the various factors that may lead to instability. By understanding these factors, participants hoped to expand their strategic horizon.
Remote sensing can help!
24 September 2012
IES, in a team together with GAF AG and DLR, is carrying out a contract to use optical and radar remote sensing sensors and interpretation techniques to locate, map and monitor small-scale and artisanal mining (ASM) operations. In many countries, information about ASM is largely incomplete and, as a consequence, ASM activities remain informal and outside of governmental supervision and regulation.
Especially in remote, poorly accessible or security sensitive areas, satellite-based remote sensing is the most efficient tool for area-wide mapping and monitoring. In this project, very high resolution optical image data, stereo data and radar-based coherence analysis is being applied and interpreted together with other geo-data such as mining cadastre information. This involves the following information being extracted from earth observation images for monitoring ASM activities:
- location and description of mining activities (activity maps and disturbed terrain analysis e.g. trenches, pits, stockpiles) and change detection
- rough estimation of extracted material
- infrastructure (e.g. processing plants, transportation routes) and influx/efflux of population
This information is used to create up-to-date reconnaissance maps and dossiers with a description of current mining activities in order to facilitate the work of in-situ mines inspectors. In addition, a methodology for country-wide mines verification is being developed.
The project covers a range of settings with artisanal mining for metals, coal, gold, gemstones as well as quarries in several selected pilot areas. Cases are selected from GAF's international activities within the mineral resources domain; recent GAF project countries include Guyana, Morocco, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Uganda, Madagascar, Afghanistan, Mongolia and Papua New Guinea.
Artisanal or small-scale mining is largely a poverty driven activity and is typically practiced in the poorest and most remote rural areas of countries by a largely itinerant, poorly educated populace with little else available in the way of alternative employment. Today, an estimated 13 million people in about 30 countries across the world are small-scale/artisanal miners, with about 80 - 100 million people depending on such mining for their livelihoods. ASM can be environmentally damaging and often has serious health and safety consequences for workers and surrounding communities. Many of the potential economic benefits of the small-scale mining sector are also lost as a result of poor practice with regard to mining, processing and marketing. The compiling of an inventory is a first step towards regularizing the sector, i.e. the enforcement of health, safety and environmental standards and the collection of royalties. Governments can then also grant operators proper legal title and provide technical, marketing and training support.
The project is funded under the European Space Agency (ESA) "Timely Situation Awareness for Law Enforcement and Intelligence Application" contract, which forms part of the Value Added Element (VAE) programme. The purpose of the VAE programme is to support industry in the use of earth observation data. The project started in autumn 2011 and is scheduled to run for 18 months.