Economic and environmental governance
Many missions have economic and/or environmental officers assigned to their professional staff. The Economic and Environmental Dimension of the OSCE, which works in partnership with the Office of the Coordinator for Economic & Environmental Activities is active in most field missions and plays an important role in mission mandates.
The OSCE can provide assistance on:
- Economic reform
- The legislative basis for regulation of economic and environmental activity
- Threats to the physical environment
- Good governance and anti-corruption activities
Poverty, desperation, and environmental degradation are often associated with violence, so efforts to deal with these social ills may reduce the propensity for violence in many of the societies where the OSCE works.
Due to its limited resources in these fields, however, the OSCE cannot tackle these problems alone. Its role has generally been to bring these problems to the attention of other organizations and governments in the hope that they will identify resources that can help alleviate them. For example in Kyrgyzstan the OSCE Mission played a key role in raising awareness about need to fund the rehabilitation of uranium tailing sites, whose radioactivity, if disturbed by landslide or earthquake can pollute downstream drinking and irrigation water sources that feed all of Central Asia. The Mission's activities lead to the UN sponsoring a major international donor conference in 2010.
The Economic and Environmental Dimension of the OSCE has fulfilled its early warning mandate by supporting cross-border environmental impact studies on improperly stored pesticides that also pose a risk to cross-border water sources. The studies were used to apply for clean-up funding under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs).
Head of the OSCE Office in Minsk, Amb. Benedikt Haller (2nd r), Economic and Environmental Programme Manager Francois-Vadim de Hartingh (r) and Core-Agri Programme Co-ordinator S. Tarasiuk (l) visit a farm in Belarus' Chernobyl-affected area, 3 June 2010. (OSCE)
Another example is a 2009 OSCE community outreach project to help farmers displaced by the Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster to find outside resources to assist them in returning to their farms. Soil and water in the region needed years of special treatment. The OSCE Office in Minsk assisted farmers in adapting new technologies for the greenhouse cultivation of popular vegetables like strawberries and cucumbers in the southern Belarus town of Stolin. One farmer reported that the implementation of the new technologies resulted in a 150 percent year-on-year increase in the cucumber yield, a one third drop in consumption of solid fuel, and a reduction by a half in the work to maintain the temperature in a greenhouse.