Interest within the mine action sector in mainstreaming environmental issues has rocketed in the past few years. The establishment of cross-sector working groups, the investigatory work of organizations such as the Conflict and Environment Observatory (CEOBS), and increased donor interest in directing funds toward environmental projects are arguably the result of broad scientific consensus on the increasingly destructive effects of anthropogenic forces on global ecosystems.

The well-established concept of do no harm1 is a framework commonly applied in the broader humanitarian sector and has been put forward as directly applicable to environmental concerns within mine action.2 The concept broadly reflects current approaches of mine action organizations to mitigate and minimize direct (negative) environmental impacts of mine clearance operations. This is reflected in the current International Mine Action Standards (IMAS) on Environmental Management3 (under review), with its focus on avoiding environmental harm through the direct impacts of mine action activities, including through emissions, erosion, residual waste, and harm to wildlife and vegetation.

This article posits that, while the do no harm approach remains well suited to mitigation of direct impacts of mine action activities and should continue to be applied, it is necessary to understand it as a single component within a broader framework to take full advantage of the potential for environmental mainstreaming within mine action.



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