As delivered by Ambassador Daniel B. Baer
to the Economic and Environmental Dimension Implementation Meeting,
Vienna, October 22, 2013
Good afternoon. I would like to thank Secretary General Zannier, Dr. Yigitguden, and the Ukrainian Chairmanship for bringing us together for the third annual Economic and Environmental Dimension Implementation Meeting (EEDIM).
This meeting follows the successful Economic and Environmental Forum (EEF) sessions in Vienna, Kyiv, and Prague, and much good discussion in the monthly Economic and Environmental Committee meetings, ably chaired by Ambassador Algayerova. Perhaps even more importantly than all this, however, has been the work going on in individual participating States and through the many field missions and offices across much of the OSCE area. One of the benefits of EEDIM is to give us all a chance to step back and appreciate all the great work that these field personnel already are doing to help participating States fulfill their Second Dimension commitments.
This week’s meeting is a good opportunity to take stock of what we’ve done and to look forward to the opportunities ahead—and I want to say a bit about each of these today. The United States is enthusiastic about what we all can accomplish in the Second Dimension over the next several years if we’re ready to think creatively and work cooperatively.
So first let me comment on this past year:
The United States will continue to place a high priority on good governance and transparency issues in the Second Dimension. During discussions this year, participating States have agreed that good governance must underpin the work of the Second Dimension. The Good Governance Ministerial Declaration contributes to all facets of the Economic and Environmental Dimension; enhancing corporate governance, public sector integrity, active participation of civil society, and a climate of confidence that ensures positive economic and social development. Our collective efforts toward implementation of this document resulted in effective activities this year promoting energy sector transparency, enhancing women’s participation in natural resource management, and enforcing accountability with transport corridors to increase cross-border trade and regional cooperation. The principles embedded in this document must carry over to next year’s objectives as we raise awareness of environmental challenges and exchange best practices to protect against natural and man-made disasters.
We have heard quite a bit these last two days from our field missions as they have discussed some of the work they are doing to help advance Second Dimension commitments and principles. These sorts of reports are one of the great parts of EEDIM – the chance to hear about the challenges that exist on the ground, and practical examples of where the OSCE should be involved, what approaches succeed, and which do not. We should use this kind of reporting as the valuable resource that it is.
Now, as we look to the future, I would like to highlight several goals that the United States believe will help us build an even more effective set of practical initiatives in the second dimension.
First, we should prove naysayers wrong by focusing on the OSCE’s comparative advantages. The OSCE is not the forum where all environmental and economic cooperation in the world will be pursued, and there are other forums that are particularly well suited to certain areas of environmental and economic work. So we should ask ourselves: what is the work that the OSCE is particularly well suited to accomplish? We have a unique collection of actors around the table here in Vienna. We have unique and expanding relationships with business actors and other civil society members. We have field offices that can serve as cost effective platforms for our work and help guide it to make it as high impact as possible. And of course we have the relevant commitments, built up over many years. There is plenty of opportunity for us to enhance comprehensive security and shared prosperity through enhanced and practical cooperation on environmental and economic matters in the years ahead, and the United States continues to be ready to work cooperatively and roll up our sleeves.
Second, we should build on the progress that has been made already, and seek to dramatically expand the OSCE’s working relationships with civil society and business groups on second dimension issues. Those relationships can exist at both the local level and here in Vienna and our own capitals, and continue to represent a key part of our success.
The business community is part of civil society, and it includes entrepreneurs, investors, employees, and customers. All these groups have a stake in our Second Dimension goals such as good governance, responsible environmental stewardship, and promotion of more efficient trade and transport links. I challenge my fellow delegates and the OSCE Executive Structures and field personnel to develop specific ways to involve the business community more directly in our Second Dimension work.
We must do more specifically to foster and develop these relationships and networks. It will make us more credible, more effective, and better able to contribute to sustainable comprehensive security.
We can also do more to engage the broader set of civil society actors. A couple examples may be helpful to illustrate what I mean: The OSCE-affiliated Aarhus Centers, which span 13 participating States, have shown that the OSCE’s involvement, even when relatively modest, can contribute to raising awareness of environmental challenges and building the capacity of civil society groups to engage in the policy decision-making process. Let me offer a second example: At the beginning of October, the OSCE Academy in Bishkek hosted a conference on “Women and Water,” part of a project funded by the U.S. Department of State through George Washington University. This conference brought together 20 women entrepreneurs from South and Central Asia, providing them with informational sessions on water sanitation, improving access to water supplies, and increasing civic engagement on water-related issues. Through the various workshops, the attendees enhanced their technical expertise in natural resource management and strengthened leadership skills that will help them establish regional networks of women leaders involved in water issues in the OSCE region. This sort of facilitation by the OSCE Academy is exactly the sort of effort that produces not only a significant primary outcome, but also causes strong secondary and tertiary effects, greatly magnifying its overall impact.
That leads me to my third goal for our future work, which is that we should look for the opportunities where we can have a large multiplier effect. The size and scope of the projects the OSCE undertakes in the Second Dimension may be relatively small, but the impact of these projects can be much, much larger. Conducting training on anti-money laundering has a primary impact in developing skills among key officials in participating States, for example. But it can also build relationships between those officials and their counterparts in neighboring States, and also with officials from other international organizations. These relationships can help officials build on the initial successes of their training, share lessons learned in common challenges, and develop regional and cross-border approaches to trans-national challenges.
Finally, one goal on our shared radar screen that I’d like to give special emphasis to is the opportunity for effective second dimension activities that relate to Afghanistan. With a timely increase of the OSCE’s attention to Afghanistan, I call on us all to prioritize the work the OSCE is doing to improve trade and transport connections, notably at border crossings, and to build capacity in participating States by promoting best practices on border and customs procedures. The OSCE’s trade resource centers, located along the Tajikistan-Afghan border, encourage trade and improve trust and integrity among entrepreneurs, border guards, and customs officials. They enhance capacity for all key players to combat bribery, deter illicit trade, and empower small business traders. As a result of these centers and the work they are doing, trade volumes are increasing and opportunities for income generation have improved. Much more work can be done to duplicate these efforts throughout Central Asia, as all participating States have a vested interest in contributing to economic stability and security in this region now and in coming years. We already have the Ministerial commitments we need to do this – let us do more to implement those commitments.
One final note to put on the table which is this: I think we should ask ourselves whether we are using all of our convenings as effectively as possible to drive practical progress. The United States has endeavored in recent years to elevate this meeting. That is one approach. But there are others – we could, for example, combine this with a reinforced Permanent Council to get political sanction for taking work forward. My point is simply that there seems to be consensus that there’s room for growth in the Second Dimension. We should do what we can to make our meetings a catalyst for action.
I again wish to thank all the organizers of this EEDIM for putting together a valuable and informative combination of panels. These discussions show us where we are succeeding and where more work is needed. I challenge each of us to make the most of the Second Dimension and its tremendous potential for contributing to the collective security of all our participating States.