Natural resources often play a role in fuelling conflicts, undermining peacebuilding efforts, and contributing to a relapse in conflict if they are not properly managed, particularly in post-conflict situations. Indeed, preliminary findings from a retrospective analysis of intrastate conflicts over the past sixty years indicate that conflicts associated with natural resources are twice as likely to relapse into conflict in the first five years after a peace agreement. Nevertheless, fewer than a quarter of peace negotiations aiming to resolve conflicts linked to natural resources have addressed resource management mechanisms.
The recognition that environmental issues can contribute to violent conflict underscores their potential significance as pathways for cooperation, transformation and the consolidation of peace in war-torn societies. Natural resources and the environment can contribute to peacebuilding through economic development and the generation of employment, while cooperation over the management of shared natural resources provides new opportunities for reconciliation between divided groups. These factors, however, must be taken into consideration from the outset of a peacebuilding process. Indeed, deferred action or poor choices made early on are easily “locked in,” establishing unsustainable trajectories of recovery that can undermine the fragile foundations of peace.
To support the plans and strategies developed by the UN Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), UNEP is providing technical support on the environmental dimensions of conflict and peacebuilding to the UN Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO) and Peacebuilding Fund (PBF). The PBC was established in 2005 to advise the Security Council and General Assembly on peacebuilding strategies for post-conflict countries. Specifically, the PBC aims to address root causes of conflict and lay the foundation for sustainable development. UNEP’s goal is to ensure natural resource and environmental risks and opportunities are considered in the planning process and integrated in the peacebuilding strategy. The work in this pillar is primarily supported by the Government of Finland and the European Commission’s Instrument for Stability.
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For further information on UNEP's environment and peacebuilding activities please contact David.Jensen, ECP Programme Coordinator, at: firstname.lastname@example.org