Pacific Forum Highlights Military Resilience To Climate Change

By Colonel Raymond Tusi

From USPACOM J4

SYDNEY, Australia (April 16, 2013) - Colonel Raymond Tusi (USPACOM J4) leads an environmental sustainability work group discussion at the Pacific Environmental Security Forum. (Courtesy Photo)

SYDNEY - As climate change continues to increase both the intensity and frequency of natural disasters, how should militaries in the Pacific region respond?  That was the question 18 countries and 85 delegates addressed this week during the 2013 Pacific Environmental Security Forum (PESF).

The event, co-sponsored by U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM) and the Australian Department of Defence (ADoD), was designed to build military readiness in response to this growing threat to regional peace, security and prosperity.  Presentations, evaluations, and workshops were conducted on themes related to environmental sustainability, biosecurity, disaster management and climate change adaptation.  The Forum also featured an overview of Sydney Harbor's facilities and an oil-spill response demonstration led by the Royal Australian Navy and Sydney Ports Authority.

The list of participating nations included Japan, China, India, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Papua New Guinea, Thailand, New Zealand, Timor L'este, and Nepal.  The results?  "Crystal clear, unanimous consensus on the need to build cooperation and partner capacity to lower our risk," according to senior U.S. delegation representative, Brigadier General Mark McLeod. "Never before have we been able to bring together so many to draw attention to the importance of environmental security in military planning."

Lessons learned and shared at the Forum affirmed that climate change requires a proactive military response, the sharing of information, and a common approach to capacity development-including multilateral exercises and security assistance.  These lessons set the stage for the first-ever multilateral baseline for future environmental sustainability, biosecurity and disaster management collaboration.  "What this week's Forum has shown us is that environmental security must be elevated to the forefront of planning," said McLeod.

As militaries further their knowledge and practical application of environmental security, USPACOM and ADoD will continue to lead awareness and capacity  development opportunities.  USPACOM has committed to continuing this next year by co-hosting a workshop in the Maldives, focusing on regional issues in South Asia


— USPACOM (posted April 22, 2013) —