Green Cross International took part in an important three-day workshop focusing on the lingering impacts of conflict on the environment and human health in the Arab world.
The event, titled Environmental Impact of Landmines/explosive Remnants of War and Mine Action in the Arab World, was organised by the Kuwait Institute For Scientific Research, Kuwait National Focal Point, and Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining.
Green Cross International Chief Operating Officer Adam Koniuszewski spoke on the opening day of the event, on 10 December 2013, and delivered a keynote presentation titled: Armed Conflict and the Use of Explosives and Propellants – Environmental Contamination and Health Impacts on People.
The session built on Green Cross’s hands-on experience to promote and facilitate security and sustainability, including chemical weapons elimination, arms control, and post-conflict environmental assessments (namely the Environmental Assessment of Kuwait, Seven Years after the Gulf War, published in 1998). The presentation addressed the human consequences of large-scale environmental contamination of wars and conflicts, and laid the theoretical basis for subsequent sessions.
In particular, it included a history of chemical weapons development and the the process of chemical weapons stockpile destruction, which resulted in Green Cross International’s Dr Paul Walker, Director of the organisation’s Environmental Security and Sustianability programme, being recognised with the 2013 Right Livelihood Award, for 20 years of efforts to rid the world of such arms.
Mr Koniuszewski (pictured left) also discussed the various means of destruction for chemical and conventional weapons with a focus on closed burn, close detonation and neutralization, and their advantages in terms of pollution reduction and benefits for the environment and public health.
GCI was founded in 1993 by Nobel Peace Laureate Mikhail Gorbachev and is an independent non-profit and nongovernmental organization advocating and working globally to address the inter-connected global challenges of security, poverty eradication and environmental degradation through advocacy and local projects. GCI is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, and conducts on-the-ground projects in more than 30 countries around the world.