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ERW Clearance, Advocacy and International Law, Land Release, Environment, Mine Action Review, Stuart Maslen, Lucy Pinches
Environmental considerations are rightly gaining increased prominence and awareness. Environmental experts agree that unprecedented changes in climate and biodiversity are taking place, threatening nature and human livelihoods around the world. The humanitarian community increasingly understands the need to identify and assess how their operations affect the natural environment and to mitigate the negative environmental impacts wherever possible.
The mine action sector has begun to recognise that in order to follow the humanitarian principle of “do no harm” it must be aware of and take action to mitigate the potential environmental damage that can occur during land release operations. While an affected community clearly benefits from the removal of explosive ordnance from nearby land, long-term harm may also be caused when environmental mismanagement occurs during clearance operations. Environmental impacts were first reported by the mine action sector more than thirty years ago, and in recent years the sector has begun to engage ever more meaningfully with the topic.
This Policy Brief builds on existing knowledge and research, and aims to outline the key environmental impacts of explosive ordnance contamination and land release operations and the potential impact of climate change on land release. It also offers an overview of the environmental impacts of post-clearance land use; outlines some of the relevant regulatory frameworks and treaty commitments; and emphasises the importance of environmental management. The aim is to present the key issues in an accessible format while offering recommendations of measures that would improve environmental management practices within the sector.