Effective management of environmental aspects of mine action operations is important from the perspectives of mine action operating organisations themselves, affected communities, national authorities, donors and the wider global community. Protection of the environment receives growing attention from national governments and international institutions, and is reflected in the increasingly rigorous demands associated with national legislation in many countries and the terms of international treaties. Mine action operations are entirely subject to applicable national environmental legislation and the terms of international treaties.1
Mine action improves not only safety and security of population, but also opportunities for socio-economic development as its aims is to “reduce social, economic and environmental impact of mines, and ERW including unexploded submunitions.”2 Mine action activities have a positive impact on environment, but this does not exclude potential to adversely impacts on the environment. It is thus important to prevent and mitigate possible adverse impacts through an appropriate environmental management that takes into account the specific activities conducted by a mine action organisation and the the context in which operations are conducted.
Environmental management is meant to strengthen mine action effectiveness and efficiency in achieving its aim. Shortcomings in environmental management in mine action can: reduce or prevent the results and outcomes expected to arise from mine action operations; lead to short and long term adverse impacts on land, water, soil and air and the communities living in the vicinity of mine action work sites; result in direct harm to people, damage to the environment and infrastructure; and give rise to legal action against mine action organisations and substantial claims for compensation. Adverse impacts on the environment can lead to associated negative social, economic and political impacts at local, regional and national levels. Environmental management therefore calls for holistic solutions which assess different impacts and an increased awareness towards environmental protection among all mine action organizations.
This standard sets a number of generic and minimum requirements for environmental management in the mine action sector. The standard do not enforce specific pratical mitigation measures but is a framework giving the tools for the NMAA to define these. Annex C provide a list of some pratical meaures which may be used by the National Mine Action Authority (NMAA), Mine Action Centre (MAC) and mine action organisations. The standard reflects important elements of ISO 14001:2015 as well as of ISO 9001:2015, but does not adopt as comprehensive an approach as the ISO standards do. Organisations seeking to go beyond implementation of operations in compliance with this IMAS are encouraged to consider adoption of ISO 14001.
National authorities and mine action organisations have the responsibility to ensure that all mine action activities, falling under any of the 5 pillars of mine action, but especially Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD), survey and clearance as well as stockpile destruction operations, are carried out in accordance with applicable legislation, safely, effectively and efficiently, but also in a way that minimises any adverse impact on people, wildlife, vegetation and other aspects of the environment. Most concerns should be given to mechanical clearance and bulk demolition since these processes have the ability to serverly impact the environment.The general aim on environmental management in mine action is to leave the environment in a state that is similar to, or where possible better than, before mine action operations commenced, and that permits the intended use of land once mine action operations have been completed.
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