UN-backed training project aims to prevent conflicts over natural resources

26 October 2010

Disputes over the use of natural resources are responsible for 40 per cent of the world’s internal conflicts, according research by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), which has announced the launch of a training programme to help war-torn countries and those vulnerable to such frictions prevent strife.

Disputes over the use of natural resources are responsible for 40 per cent of the world’s internal conflicts, according research by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), which has announced the launch of a training programme to help war-torn countries and those vulnerable to such frictions prevent strife.

The programme, which is supported by the European Union (EU), is designed to help build peace through improved management of natural resources such as timber, minerals, fertile land and water. It is intended for national and local governments, as well as UN and European Commission (EC) 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 building for managing land and natural resources.

The partnership is one of the outcomes of last year’s UNEP report, entitled “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.

The training programme will be rolled out in four countries in the coming year – Timor-Leste, Liberia, Peru and Guinea.

It was developed by the EU and a consortium of six UN agencies – UNEP, the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT), the UN Department for Political Affairs (DPA), the Department for Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and the Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO), under the auspices of the UN Interagency Framework Team for Preventive Action (The Framework Team).

“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,” said Jordan Ryan, the Director of UNDP’s Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery.

Christophe Bouvier, UNEP’s Regional Director for Europe, warned: “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.”

Recognising the importance of linkage between the exploitation of natural resources and conflict, Richard Wright, Director of the EC’s Crisis Platform, pointed out that “well-managed resources can play a clear role in post-conflict peacebuilding.”

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