Conflict situations have negative impacts on the environment and consequently on human well-being. The 2005 World Summit drew attention to the need for peace as the foundation for human well-being.

Over 30 African countries have been involved in wars in the last five years, and many more experience local resource conflicts. Despite this, Africa has an impressive record on the collaborative management of environmental resources. This cooperation has promoted peace and stability in most parts of the region. Important areas of collaboration include the management of water resources and shared river basins as well as more general transboundary natural resource management. Chapter 12: Environment for Peace and Regional Cooperation provides a more comprehensive analysis of these issues.

In many parts of Africa, river basin organizations have been established to regulate the rights and responsibilities of the different riparian states (Turton 2003). The SADC region has adopted a Protocol on Shared Watercourse Systems which creates a regional approach to management based on river basins. In the Northern and Eastern Africa sub-regions, the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) seeks to enhance management and to take concrete steps to realize the development potential of the Nile. Launched in February 1999, the NBI provides a basin-wide framework to fight poverty and promote socioeconomic development through the equitable utilization of and benefit sharing from the Nile Basin water resources (Uganda 2002). Over the past 30 years, various groupings of countries in the Nile Basin have engaged in cooperative activities. However, the inclusion of all countries in a joint dialogue opens up new opportunities for realizing win-win solutions. It also holds the promise for potential greater regional integration, economically and politically, with benefits far exceeding those derived from the river itself.

The ECOWAS action plan seeks to promote a regional cooperation framework for integrated water resource management, including harmonizing policies and legislation on water resources, facilitating the exchange of experiences, reviving consultation between riparian countries on coordinated management of shared or transborder water basins, and strengthening partnership with all stakeholders. Similarly, the EAC has cooperative water management initiatives, including the revitalized Lake Victoria Development Programme (LVDP), which has developed a common vision for the Lake Victoria Basin development, agriculture, food security, energy, tourism, civil aviation safety, lake resource conflict management, telecommunications and meteorological and inter-university cooperation.

Policies and laws have been developed in several sub-regions to support sustainable transboundary natural resource management including for wildlife, forests, marine resources and mountainous environments. The EAC has transboundary ecosystem management on Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Elgon. The East Africa Cross Border Biodiversity Project, funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and executed by the three governments in the Eastern African sub-region, sought to identify and promote systemic national and regional policies and administrative measures to ensure sustainable management of cross-border biological diversity (ecosystems) and to reduce biodiversity loss at cross- border sites in east Africa. The project has generated information on the status of the cross-border sites and detailed policy analyses of forest policies in the three countries, identifying convergences and divergences, which can be used to inform interventions within the EAC strategy.

Social conflict and wars have had a high human and environmental cost. Large numbers of people have been displaced as a result of war, placing new burdens on the natural resource base. In conflict situations, effective management, monitoring and enforcement are not always possible. Such conflict also has adverse consequences for natural resources management, as the collapse of effective government results in indiscriminate harvesting and utilization of natural resources. The revival of ECCAS will hopefully help strengthen environmental governance in Central Africa. This underscores the linkage between environmental resource management and conflict. As long as there is conflict, environmental resource management initiatives, such as those anticipated in the treaty establishing ECCAS, will remain unimplemented as the member states concentrate on the more immediate issues relating to the conflict.