Brussels, 25 October 2010 - UNEP research shows that 40 percent of the world's internal conflicts are linked to the exploitation of natural resources. Furthermore, conflicts involving natural resources have been found to be twice as likely to relapse.
Now a new training programme from the UN and the European Union (EU) will aim to support war-torn and vulnerable countries to prevent conflict and build peace through improved management of natural resources like timber, minerals, fertile land and water.
The programme is geared towards national and local governments, as well as UN and EU field staff.
Launched this week in Brussels, the training materials include a series of guidance notes, manuals and an online learning tool covering four themes: land, extractive industries, environmental scarcity, and capacity development for managing land and natural resources.
The partnership is one of the outcomes catalysed by UNEP's 2009 report From Conflict to Peacebuilding: The Role of Natural Resources and the Environment, which called for the links between conflict and the environment to be addressed in a more coherent and systematic way by the UN, member states, peacekeeping forces and relief agencies.
In the coming year, the training programme will be rolled out in four pilot countries - Timor Leste, Liberia, Peru and Guinea.
The programme was developed over two years by the EU and a consortium of six UN agencies: UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the UN Development Programme (UNDP), UN HABITAT, the Department for Political Affairs (DPA), the Department for Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and the Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO).
Speaking at the launch in Brussels, Mr. Jordan Ryan, Assistant Secretary-General and Director of UNDP's Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery, said: "We all need to tackle this issue as a priority before natural resource disputes blow up and prevent populations from accessing the peace they deserve".
"As the global population continues to rise, and the demand for resources continues to grow, there is significant potential for conflicts over natural resources to intensify in the coming decades," Christophe Bouvier, UNEP's Regional Director for Europe warned the gathering.
Recognising the importance of these linkages, Mr. Richard Wright, Director of the EC's Crisis Platform, also pointed out that: "Well managed resources can play a clear role in post-conflict peacebuilding".
Training materials and further information about the project can be accessed through the following webpage: