Aleksandar Vesić, Assistant Minister in the Sector for Environmental Management, Serbian Ministry of Environmental Protection

Natural Environment & Security

The natural environment is exposed to evident changes in terms of degradation in many segments, due to the ever more dynamic development of society, production and consumption. These changes are often also felt beyond the site where pollution occurs, even at great distances, which gives this problem an international character

Aleksandar Vesić

In order to achieve sustainable development that’s harmonised with the needs and constraints of nature, which the contemporary world has opted to pursue, it is necessary to ensure integrity and coherence between economic policy and protection policies, and improvement in the quality of the environment at all levels and in all other sectors and aspects that relate directly or indirectly to the environment.

With the increase in the destructive power of modern weapons, the harmful consequences of armed conflict have increased dramatically. If we add to this that potential targets and facilities that are vital to a large number of populations orwhich pose a potential environmental hazard (chemical plants, hydro and nuclear power plants, plumbing, electricity systems and the like), awareness is growing of the importance of the link between these two fields.

Linking aspects of the natural environment and security, and a systematic approach to solving this problem, represent a precluding factor, or the prevention of possible accidents in environments in potential conflicts or terrorist attacks.

Likewise, material wealth and natural resources are today confronted more than ever by various challenges and dangers. Environmental risks to material wealth and natural potential are represented by various chemical, radioactive and other pollutants, as well as uncontrolled operations in nature and excessive and uncontrolled use of natural resources.

The greatest ecological risks linked to disrespect for the natural environment are:

» Industrial pollution as a consequence of non-compliance with safety and industrial production standards;

» Inappropriate handling of toxic substances;

» Failure to respect standards for the production, storage and handling of dangerous goods;

» Radioactive and toxic pollution;

» Uncontrolled disposal of waste, especially hazardous waste;

» Inadequate management of water resources and pollution of watercourses, especially sources of potable water;

» Failure to adhere to regulations related to the collection, treatment and disposal of waste, especially hazardous waste;

» other areas.

Ecological threats to some countries can also include the occasional endeavours of individual countries to sell and export to developing countries their “dirty technology“ and industrial plants that pollute the environment significantly and have many technical shortcomings.

Ecological threats to security can occur continuously in times of peace or war in various forms of manifestation as a discrete substance for destroying, ruining or paralysing everything or only certain potential opponents, such as human resources, material goods, natural resources, economic power and so on. As the end goal of endangering environmental security is the destruction and pollution of nature and the natural environment (water, air, land and biodiversity), which creates unfavourable conditions for life and the fighting of the armed forces of opponents and populations.

Ecological threats to some countries can also include the occasional endeavours of individual countries to sell and export to developing countries their “dirty technology“ and industrial plants that pollute the environment significantly and have many technical shortcomings

Alongside the usual forms of warfare, the modern world is confronted by the frightening possibilities of ecological warfare, primarily with nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, which could drastically alter the human environment and endanger its existence.

Ecological war represents different forms of endangers an enemies’ natural fundamentals of human life in narrow or wider spaces, due to changing the conditions essential for the basic conducting of human life functions over shorter or longer periods. Individual forms of ecological warfare can be conducted without a formal announcement of hostility, which means that there is an open (public) but also secretive ecological war in the scope of special war, terrorism and diversion.

Biological weapons in ecological warfare mainly imply the application of pathogenic microorganisms, agents of diseases in humans, animals and plants. It is officially banned and falls among the cheapest and most effective means of endangering and destroying the living world – ecocide.

Biological weaponry has been used to wage war since ancient times, with the dumping of dead bodies of animals and humans who died of illness into sources of drinking water is a phenomenon as old as human civilisation. The basic form of biological warfare would be the application of biological agents in the form of bioaerosols primarily through sabotage and terrorist actions.

Geophysical weapons, in ecological warfare, encompass those means and methods that can intentionally cause powerful environmental disorder with devastating effects. Geophysical weapons are divided into subtypes like meteorological weapons, ozone and seismic weapons. Meteorological weapons, in ecological warfare, are directed towards causing artificial precipitation and causing climate change.

Ozone weaponry, in ecological warfare, is based on the possibility of depleting the ozone above an area of the Earth, causing the area targetted to be exposed to strong ultraviolet radiation, leading to a series of disorders.

Biotic weapons, in ecological warfare, are means for the mass destruction of plant life, which include, for example, effective herbicides.

National procedures for ecological security must include a combination of legislative, administrative and technical measures that are taken and implemented in order to protect the environment and human health.

In the context of strengthening security in the field of environmental protection, it is necessary to strengthen – legislatively, organisationally and administratively – all management structures in this area, strengthening inter-sector cooperation, and especially inspection oversight, both at borders and within the borders of the country. In this respect, it is also necessary to continue harmonising domestic legislation with international laws, to continue intensive international cooperation in this area, but it also necessary to build a system that will in future avoid overlapping responsibilities or a lack of coverage of an appropriate organisational and legislative framework, in order for environment protection to be managed responsibly and efficiently.