Importance of Natural Resources for Peacebuilding Highlighted in New Book Series di, nov 15, 2011

A new study published by United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and partners examines key challenges faced by post-conflict countries in peacefully and sustainably developing their natural resources, while avoiding major environmental degradation.

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The new book features case studies from more than 18 countries, including small-scale mining in DR Congo.

Washington DC / Nairobi, 15 November 2011 - Using case studies from over 30 countries and analysis from 39 expert authors, a new study published by United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and partners examines key challenges faced by post-conflict countries in peacefully and sustainably developing their natural resources, while avoiding major environmental degradation.

High-Value Natural Resources and Post-Conflict Peacebuilding is the first in a seven-volume series on post-conflict peacebuilding and natural resource management published by UNEP, the Environmental Law Institute (ELI), the University of Tokyo and McGill University.

Covering over 55 conflict-affected countries, the series represents one of the most comprehensive studies to date of the link between managing natural resources, such as oil, diamonds, gold and timber and post-conflict peacebuilding.

"Certain countries are blessed with valuable natural resources that can contribute to grievances and conflict," says ELI President John Cruden. "However, in post-conflict situations, there lies a unique opportunity to thoughtfully manage high-value natural resources to support economic development, livelihoods, good governance, and ultimately peace and stability."

The book includes a foreword by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia and 2011 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.

Sirleaf states that peace brings high expectations, especially in a country with abundant natural resources. "We had to turn this natural resource 'curse' into a blessing," she notes, "But where to start?"

United Nations Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said the research effort answers an important call by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon for a greater focus on the links between natural resources, conflict, and peacebuilding.

"This project can make significant contributions towards improving post-conflict resource management through sharing lessons learned and best practices," said Mr. Steiner.

"As a result it can assist in the transition towards low-carbon, resource efficient Green Economies in post-conflict nations and thus contribute to stability, peace, recovery and sustainable development," he added.

The book gives insight to a variety of natural resource management strategies, addressing the different steps of the natural resource value-chain, from extraction to distribution and spending revenues.

It highlights four areas where international support can be particularly fruitful:

These include:

  • Assisting post-conflict countries to secure better contracts with companies extracting natural resources

  • Increasing the transparency of contracts, payments, and decision making

  • Supporting the monitoring of companies that are extracting natural resources

  • Encouraging strategic planning for and accountability in using the revenues from natural resources to provide immediate peace dividends to war-torn populations and invest in infrastructure, health, education, and economic diversification.

Providing insight on the management process, the book aims to benefit national and local governments, extractive industries, civil society organizations, and the international community. It also provides invaluable lessons for the UN's peace and security institutions, including the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the UN Peacebuilding Commission.

The four-year project will yield more than 150 peer-reviewed case studies and analyses by 230 scholars, practitioners, and decision makers from 50 countries.

These case studies and analyses are being assembled into a set of six edited books - to be published by Earthscan - addressing the following topics: high-value natural resources, land, water, resources for livelihoods, assessment and restoration of natural resources and governance.

The project is also producing an overarching book, published by Cambridge University Press (2012): Post-conflict peacebuilding and natural resources: The promise and the peril.

For more information, please contact:

Brett Kitchen, Environmental Law Institute at +1-202-939-3833 or pressrequest@eli.org

UNEP Newsdesk in Nairobi, Kenya, at +254 20 762 5022 or unepnewsdesk@unep.org

 
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