History of the work in central america, the caribbean and south america on environment and security issues 2001-05



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HISTORY OF THE WORK IN CENTRAL AMERICA, THE CARIBBEAN AND SOUTH AMERICA ON ENVIRONMENT AND SECURITY ISSUES 2001-05


U.S. ARMY WAR COLLEGE AND USSOUTHCOM COMMAND ENGINEER

Marcela Ramírez

Environmental Security Contractor

Center for Strategic Leadership, U.S. Army War College

April 2006
CENTRAL AMERICAN REGION
In May 2001, the Ministers of Environment, Defense, and Public Security of Central America and Caribbean countries convened in San Jose, Costa Rica to discuss for the first time cooperative activities between armed forces and government entities that manage environmental activities. This conference was sponsored by the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) with support from the Central American Commission on Environment and Development (CCAD), the Latin American Center for Competitiveness and Sustainable Development (CLADS) of the Central American Business Administration Institute (INCAE), the Center for Strategic Leadership of the U.S. Army War College (CSL), and the Tropical Agronomic Center for Higher Education and Research (CATIE).
During this first conference it was clear that the concept of national security has a wider meaning that includes environmental problems with repercussions at the local, national and regional levels. This concept is called environmental security. The government representatives realized the need for finding cooperation activities between the security forces (army, coast guard/marine, air force, and police) within the same country and the region in order to address environmental security concerns.
As a result of the 2001 Conference, officials at CATIE designed the “Central American Environmental Defense Program in the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor”. This Program was geared to establishing the basis for an environmental training program for members of the security forces mentioned above, plus representatives from the Ministries of Defense and Environment in the Central American countries. To support this Program, the U.S. Army War College’s Center for Strategic Leadership, under the sponsorship of U.S. SOUTHCOM, organized two regional workshops in 2002 (one in Costa Rica and one in Honduras), a regional conference in 2003 (Belize) and a regional environmental training exercise in 2005 (Costa Rica).
The participants in these events provided CSL with many recommendations for future activities that would maintain the momentum created since the first conference in 2001. Here follows a summary of the events conducted to date with representatives from Central American and Caribbean military, civil defense and environmental institutions, as well as the key recommendations from each event.
1. ENHANCING DEFENSE-ENVIRONMENTAL COOPERATION FOR CENTRAL AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN

MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE, SAN JOSE, COSTA RICA, MAY 2001


This conference represented the first time that Ministers of Defense/Public Security and their environmental counterparts sat together to discuss Environmental Security issues in the Central American and Caribbean regions.
The recommendations were:


    1. The definition of “security” should be enlarged to include the environmental problems faced in the region

    2. Poverty and social-environmental vulnerability increase risks to security. Risk management is feasible at the local and national levels as long as there is cooperation from both civil authorities and security forces

    3. The Central American Commission on Sustainable Development (CCAD) should be used as a framework for cooperation activities on environment and security in the region. To accomplish that, the governments in the region need to demonstrate their political commitment

    4. There is a need for information exchange, environmental monitoring and forecasting in the region.




  1. VALIDATION OF THE CENTRAL AMERICAN ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENSE PROGRAM IN THE MESOAMERICAN BIOLOGICAL CORRIDOR

WORKSHOP, CATIE, COSTA RICA, JUNE 2002
The objective of this Program was to strengthen and improve the relationships between the armed forces, police corps, environmental officials and civil society in order to manage the natural resources in Central America in a sustainable way. The workshop produced the following recommendations:


    1. The Environmental Defense Program should contribute to, improve and strengthen the capacity of the members of the Armed Forces in technical aspects related to agricultural, forestry and environmental issues. This will allow them to comply efficiently with the mandates of the Central American Alliance for Sustainable Development (ALIDES), the Treaty for Democratic Security in Central America, and the Conservation Strategy of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor

    2. The Program should also train participants in issues related to vulnerability, prevention and mitigation of natural and technical disasters, and coastal management.




  1. DEVELOPMENT OF THE CENTRAL AMERICAN ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENSE PROGRAM IN THE MESOAMERICAN BIOLOGICAL CORRIDOR

FOLLOW UP TO CATIE WORKSHOP, ZAMORANO INSTITUTE, HONDURAS, SEPTEMBER 2002
The U.S. Army War College’s Center for Strategic Leadership organized this follow-up event with representatives from all of the Central American countries. The conclusions were as follows:


    1. Military Academies and Public Security Schools should include environmental subjects in theirs curricula based on the commitment established by the Ministers of Defense and Environment in the 2001 Conference in San Jose

    2. There is a need for information exchange between the Military Academies and Public Security Schools in order to unify regional topics.


  1. ENVIRONMENTAL COOPERATION AMONG CIVIL–SECURITY FORCES IN CENTRAL AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN

REGIONAL CONFERENCE, BELIZE CITY, BELIZE, JULY 2003
This regional conference was organized to bring together officials from both the Central American and Caribbean regions to further discuss environmental security issues that concerned them at the local, national and regional levels. Key recommendations were:


    1. An environmental training program geared to members of the armed forces, police corps and officials from the Environmental Ministries should be established to increase awareness of and ability to address environmental issues within the region’s military and security forces

    2. The Central American Commission on Sustainable Development (CCAD) should be approached to determine how capacity building efforts for civil-military cooperation could be integrated into CCAD’s planning for upcoming regional activities

    3. The existing structure and capacity of the DENIX web-based system should be used to coordinate regional activities. Florida International University offered to compile the information from the participants and their countries and to include it in the DENIX system.


Note: The Center for Strategic Leadership of the U.S. Army War College (CSL) published a book on this event.


  1. CENTRAL AMERICAN TRAINING COURSE ON ENVIRONMENT AND SECURITY

REGIONAL TRAINING, ALAJUELA, COSTA RICA JANUARY 2005
All of the previous events on environmental security in the region were formal conferences and workshops that focused on major conceptual issues. This event, however, was a training course that provided the first opportunity for participants to engage in practical demonstrations and open discussions with renowned subject matter expert instructors and speakers. (The AWC hired the International Resources Group (IRG) to employ a model from USAID’s OFDA to design and conduct this training course.) These demonstrations and discussions facilitated inter-institutional understanding and cooperation. Following the training event, a special meeting of Ministers of Environment, Defense and Security or their representatives reached agreement to task CCAD with further defining the content of the Inter-Sectoral Policy on Security and Environmental Defense within the context of the Central American Framework Treaty on Democratic Security. The main conclusions from the training were:


    1. Civil-military collaborative relationships should be strengthened through the development and implementation of environmental activities and programs

    2. Get the Central American Commission for Environment and Development (CCAD) and the Coordination Center for Natural Disasters in Central America (CEPREDENAC) more involved in order to explore ways to use security forces and environmental authorities in responsible activities to combat environmental threats

    3. Obtain technical assistance from SOUTHCOM in developing a framework for a Regional Environment and Disaster Management System (training assistance, monitoring, evaluation of the system)

    4. Follow-up activities with the participants will be essential to the development and institutionalization of an environmental security agenda in the region. As just one example, the U.S. Army War College and SOUTHCOM should encourage the participants in this first training course to sponsor a similar course at the national level and then present their results and experiences in a regional follow-up event.



SOUTH AMERICAN REGION
Environmental security is important to individual countries as well as to the entire region, leading to greater stability. Two regional conferences continued the efforts made during previous events in Central America. These first two conferences provided excellent examples that proved that cooperation has not only taken place but that it has also been well articulated for the benefit of the community.


  1. SOUTH AMERICAN ENVIRONMENTAL SECURITY CONFERENCE

REGIONAL CONFERENCE, ASUNCION, PARAGUAY, 2003
During most of the 20th Century, a state of tension existed in South America between the military and civilian sectors because of the role played by the military as either the primary enforcement instrument of the ruling oligarchy, or as the actual government in being. To set the conditions for continued growth and stability, these two sectors must cooperate both nationally and multilaterally in order to build confidence in the government and to promote regional stability. The first USSOUTHCOM Engineer and Environment conference in Asunción, Paraguay, chose to encourage this necessary dialogue using Environmental Security and its adjunct of disaster response planning.
This conference demonstrated how environmental security activities promote a closer working relationship between USSOUTHCOM and partner nations, and helped identify new roles of military support to civil authority. As we conduct the Global War on Terrorism we find that such gatherings also help to maintain governmental legitimacy and combat conditions that foment the spread of terrorist activities. The event helped acquaint key players in the defense forces with each other so they can more easily cooperate in other missions.
Note: The Center for Strategic Leadership of the U.S. Army War College (CSL) published a book on this event.


  1. EXPLORING OPPORTUNITIES FOR CIVIL-MILITARY COOPERATION TO PROTECT THE ENVIRONMENT IN SOUTH AMERICA

REGIONAL CONFERENCE, MONTEVIDEO, URUGUAY, MAY 2005
This conference was cosponsored by USSOUTHCOM Engineers, the Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Installations and Environment (DUSD-I&E), and the Center for Strategic Leadership (CSL) of the U.S. Army War College, and hosted by the Ministry of National Defense and the Ministry of Housing, Land Management and Environment in Montevideo, Uruguay in 2005. This conference brought together senior leaders from the United States and eleven South American nations to examine critical environmental issues that affect the security of the region.
The speakers at the conference offered such diverse topics as the efforts to mitigate the effects of an off-shore oil spill, reforestation projects in the Andes, US procedures to deal with forest fires, the use of Water Treatment units that provide potable water in remote areas and the use of Satellite Imagery tools to predict the paths of mudslides and lava flows. The conference emphasized that the militaries have communications, transport and command & control capabilities, as well as the ready manpower to deal with environmental needs. Therefore, military forces can easily play a stewardship role in protecting and fostering the environment as a nation’s broadest natural resource.
Note: The Center for Strategic Leadership of the U.S. Army War College (CSL) published a book on this event.


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