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Renewable energy boosts safety of UN peacekeepers

Under-Secretary-General Atul Khare was speaking at the 2023 UN Peacekeeping Ministerial conference, which opened in Accra, Ghana.

Delegates from more than 85 countries are attending the two-day meeting, where day one’s discussions focused on environmental management at peacekeeping operations and deploying more women to serve under the UN flag.

Greener and leaner

Addressing a side event on improving environmental management, Mr. Khare said the shift to green energy in the field “is not just about environmental footprint” as it helps to protect peacekeepers by reducing the need to transport fuel on dangerous roads. 

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Furthermore, operational resilience to withstand fuel shortages is also increased, meaning that missions can run core infrastructure even in times of crisis when fuel supplies cannot be delivered.

Mr. Khare heads the Department of Operational Support, which over the past six years has been supporting UN missions in implementing a strategy on environmental management. 

Recycling up, fuel use down 

He reported on progress to date, which has included “a major jump” in the proportion of waste treated through recycling, composting and incineration, which has risen from 19 per cent to 65 per cent.

Additionally, fuel use per capita per day in electricity generation has decreased from 4.1 litres to 3.7 litres. 

“This may sound modest as a per capita figure, but in real terms this represents a reduction of 15 million litres of diesel per year, or around 40,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions,” he said. 

Nations support strategy 

Mr. Khare also thanked those countries contributing troops and police officers to serve at UN missions, which have been supportive of the environmental management strategy. 

For example, Bangladesh was the first to deploy a solar photovoltaic (PV) system in the field, while Pakistan recently deployed a renewable energy system at the UN mission in the Central African Republic, MINUSCA. 

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