Armed conflicts have direct and indirect impacts on the natural environment, and climate risks now magnify this harm for dependent communities. Too often, the natural environment is directly attacked or suffers incidental damage as a result of the use of certain methods or means of warfare. It is also at risk from damage and destruction to the built environment, across urban and rural areas. To reduce this harm, parties to armed conflict can integrate legal protections for the environment into their armed forces’ doctrine to reduce damage as they fight. Humanitarians in turn must commit sufficient resources and expertise to respond to the needs of those coping with the environmental consequences of conflict, and limit their own climate and environmental footprint. In order to address this challenge, in November 2020 the ICRC released the Guidelines on the Protection of the Natural Environment in Armed Conflict which aim to contribute in a practical way to promoting respect for and protection of this precious asset during armed conflicts.
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