Research Projects


Environment and Security in the Western Balkans : Risks and Opportunities through Co-operation

Environmental issues are among the new challenges that have started to enter into decision making and strategic planning due to the recent social and political changes experienced in the Western Balkan countries. In particular, the environment is a security concern of growing importance. Problems such as the depletion of natural resources, water contamination and transportation of hazardous waste could all have serious implications for regional relations and local communities. The situation is further complicated by politicised arguments over energy sources, migration as well as illegal activities like trafficking of hazardous substances.
This research project, funded by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, aims to examine the role of the environment in questions of regional stability and security in the context of local, regional and international co-operation established to ease these problems. The underlying assumption is that the link between the environment and security can generate both risks and co-operation in the Western Balkans. Existing environmental problems pose a serious security threat already, and competition over scarce resources and disputes about environmental responsibility can provoke tension in regional relations. On the other hand, attempts to prevent and solve these problems may serve as impetus for co-operation across borders.

What, then, are the main risks and what is the potential for co-operation in the environmental field? In addition, outside actors have a considerable bearing on the course of development in the region. Will international organizations, such as the EU, use their leverage to reinforce sustainability and cooperation, and how will bilateral relations with countries like Russia affect the balance? On the other hand, how will the community level react to the changes and is there local support for new policies?

The research project will be realised in several overlapping and inter-related parts, utilizing an interdisciplinary approach. It will include a literary review assessing the most relevant environment-related risks in the region. This will also serve as a basis for individual studies covering environmental questions in the context of cross-cutting themes such as energy policy and Russia, environmental crime and corruption, local-level participation of civic organizations and international crisis management efforts. In addition, international co-operation projects in the environmental field will be reviewed and analyzed on the basis of their objectives and impacts.

The project entails the organization of at least two workshops and will result in the publication of several research articles. The outcomes will be presented in a final conference.


Project network: The Aleksanteri Institute
Duration: January 2010- December 2011

Research Group:

Dr  Jouni Järvinen
Prof. Markku Kivinen
Prof. Leo Granberg
Dr Jouko Nikula
Researcher Emma Hakala
Researcher Anna Halonen

From Serbia:
Prof.  Aleksandar Fatić
Ms Mina Zirojević-Fatić
Mr Srdjan Korać

Contact information:

Project team leader
Dr  Jouni Järvinen

phone +358-(0)9-191 23613 or +358-(0)50-338 2807
fax +358 9 191 23615

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