The linkages between natural resources and violent conflict are a critical challenge faced by many countries today. The exploitation of high-value natural resources, including oil, gas, minerals and timber, for example, has often been cited as a key factor in triggering, escalating or sustaining wars around the globe. Furthermore, increasing competition for diminishing renewable resources, such as land and water, is on the rise, compounded by environmental degradation, population growth and climate change. If they are well managed, however, natural resources can also serve to prevent conflicts or shore up efforts toward peace and sustainable development in war-torn nations.
Together with the European Union and five other UN partners – UNDP, DPA, UNEP, PBSO, HABITAT and DESA – UNEP is working to support countries improve natural resource management for conflict prevention and peacebuilding. Through a joint programme coordinated by the UN Framework Team for Preventive Action and financed by the EU's Instrument for Stability, technical assistance will be provided to help national stakeholders, as well as UN and EU staff in conflict-affected countries, to better understand and prevent tensions over environmental issues and the management of natural resources. The partnership is also designed to enhance policy development and programme coordination between key actors at the field level.
Phase I: Guidance and training material
This project aims to equip national stakeholders, UN Country Teams and EU Delegations with the skills and tools needed to understand, anticipate, prevent, and mitigate potential conflicts over natural resources. As such, the first outcome of the project is a series of Guidance Notes, training manuals, and an online self-paced learning tool covering the following themes:
- Land and conflict*,
- Extractive industries and conflict* ,
- Environmental scarcity and conflict*, and
- Capacity development for managing land and natural resources*.
* See Related Publications below.
The four Guidance Notes are working documents that will be validated during the second phase of the project and updated accordingly. UNEP invites stakeholders and practitioners to review and comment on these documents, from October 2010 to June 2011, which can be accessed through the links above.
Phase II: Pilot-testing and field training
The second outcome of the project will be to deliver a series of training modules for UN and EU field staff, as well as local partners, in four pilot countries: Timor Leste, Liberia, Peru and Guinea-Conakry. Participants will acquire the skills to formulate and operationalize preventive measures in relation to natural resource management and conflict. In countries where specific natural resource management and conflict challenges are identified, the project will aim to provide focused technical assistance in the development of conflict prevention strategies. This could include the deployment of staff and other experts to assist the UN Country Team, including the Resident Coordinator or Peace and Development Advisor, in analysing options and designing programmes. Where needed, dedicated follow-up measures will also be undertaken on an inter-agency basis, in partnership with the EU.