Thailand Ministry of Defense (MOD) and Ministry of Environment/Natural Resources co-hosted U.S. Pacific Command's fifth annual environmental security forum in Bangkok, Thailand 8-11 June 2015.
More than 200 attendees from 22 nations, including government civilians, United Nations representatives, non-governmental organizations, military service members and 80 high school students actively participated.
The Pacific Environmental Security Forum was launched in 2010 by U.S. Pacific Command and provides a unique opportunity for militaries in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region to work with their civilian counterparts on enhancing environmental security, protection, and management in the region. It’s also an opportunity to work with varied groups toward a common goal.
“The Environmental Security Forum is an invaluable tool in strengthening relationships in the Asia-Pacific Region," said Brig. Gen. John E. O'Neil, U.S. Pacific Command Director of Logistics, Engineering and Security Cooperation.
Participants heard from subject matter experts on climate-change impacts including protection of the commons, military environmental capabilities and concept development for environmental projects where militaries may assist.
The intent of these forums is to increase awareness of environmental considerations, discuss best practices and lessons-learned in environmental stewardship, and identify collaborative opportunities where militaries in the region can support ongoing and future environmental programs related to all domains (air, land, sea, space).
Climate change and many other non-traditional environmental threats are international challenges that do not respect national borders. Thus we must work together to address them, stated Mr. W. Patrick Murphy, U.S. Chargé d'affaires ad interim to the Kingdom of Thailand in his closing statement. He went on to say that … militaries can be part of the problem or a solution to the challenges. However, when they choose to be part of the solution they are able to lead more effectively than others in our society. Through leadership they are capable of making positive impacts, affecting our future trajectory. For this reason the forum should give us hope.
The 2016 Forum will be co-hosted by U.S. Pacific Command and Fiji's Ministry of Defense.