CAMP H.M. SMITH, Hawaii -- United States Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) hosted the 2021 Pacific Environmental Security Forum (PESF) virtually Feb. 22 - 25.
The PESF, launched in 2010 by USINDOPACOM, provides a unique opportunity for militaries in the Indo-Pacific region to work with their civilian counterparts on enhancing environmental security, protection, and management.
“For over 10 years we have gathered countries together, large and small, landlocked or surrounded by ocean, countries which may or may not even possess a military, to discuss matters that are important to all of us,” said Brig. Gen. Jered Helwig, the Director of Logistics and Engineering for USINDOPACOM. “Our ability to contribute to collective security by promoting resilience to natural disasters…can have a profound effect upon the future of this region’s peoples.”
The 2021 event brought together environmental security stakeholders from across the Indo-Pacific region to discuss climate security, resource sustainability, multilateral cooperation, and environmental security transformation. The intent of the forum was to further environmental security partnerships and collaboration throughout the Indo-Pacific region.
“It really isn’t incongruent to talk about the environment along with security,” said Maj. Gen. Suzanne Vares-Lum, the Mobilization Assistant at USINDOPACOM. “Security is our business, and it’s not just the traditional sense of security, but the security of the water, the land, the people and culture. Not just for today but generations.”
The PESF included sessions with subject matter experts, panel discussions, and group activities that fostered cooperation among participating nations to help gauge the success of and identify gaps in current methods and create opportunities for process improvement, reinforcing PESF goals and objectives.
“A safe, healthy and prosperous Indo-Pacific can’t be gained by military might alone,” said Helwig. “It will take hard work, a willingness to challenge conventional wisdom and a commitment to work together to promote change.”