About UNEP’s Disaster and Conflict Operations
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) conducts field-based environmental assessments and strengthens national environmental management capacity in countries affected by conflicts and disasters. Using state-of-the-art science and technology, UNEP deploys teams of environmental experts to assess environmental damage and determine risks for human health, livelihoods and security. Since 1999, UNEP has operated in more than twenty-five countries and published eighteen environmental assessment reports. Based on this expertise, UNEP is providing technical assistance to the UN Peacebuilding Commission in assessing the role of natural resources and the environment in conflict and peacebuilding. The main objective of this cooperation is to prevent natural resources and environmental stress from undermining the peacebuilding process while at the same time using environment as a platform for dialogue, cooperation and confidence-building.
About UNEP’s Expert Advisory Group on Environment, Conflict and Peacebuilding
To broaden UNEP’s expertise and analytical capacity, an Expert Advisory Group on Environment, Conflict and Peacebuilding was established in February 2008. Coordinated by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) the advisory group provides independent expertise, develops tools and policy inputs, and identifies best practices in using natural resources and the environment in ways that contribute to peacebuilding. The group is composed of senior experts from academic institutions, non-governmental organizations and think tanks that have demonstrated leadership in environment and conflict issues (see annex 5).
About this report
This report, which inaugurates a new policy series by UNEP on the environmental dimensions of disasters and conflicts, aims to summarize the latest knowledge and field experience on the linkages between environment, conflict and peacebuilding, and to demonstrate the need for those linkages to be addressed in a more coherent and systematic way by the UN, Member States and other stakeholders. As such, it is linked to a wider cooperation on conflict and natural resource management started between the European Commission and the United Nations system in 2008, which has resulted in a new project funded by the European Commission under the Instrument for Stability on “Strengthening Capacities for Consensual and Sustainable Management of Land and Natural Resources.” The research and consolidation of information herein will feed into the development of upcoming guidance notes, training modules, policy papers and other outputs under this EC-UN project.
A joint product of UNEP and the Expert Advisory Group, this paper was co-authored by Richard Matthew of the University of California, Irvine, Oli Brown of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and David Jensen of UNEP’s Post-Conflict and Disaster Management Branch (PCDMB). It was open for peer review to all UN agencies, programmes and funds working on conflict and peacebuilding, as well as to the Member States and observers of the Peacebuilding Commission. It was also released as a consultation draft at four international meetings during 2008, involving over 250 environment, security, peacebuilding and development practitioners. These included the UN Peacebuilding Commission Working Group on Lessons Learned on Environment, Conflict and Peacebuilding (8 May), a special event on environment, conflict and peacebuilding at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Barcelona (7 October), the Belgo-British Conference on Natural Resources: Challenges and Opportunities (12-13 November) and the NATO Partnership for Peace Workshop on Environmental Security (25-26 November). All substantive contributions received during the consultation process are acknowledged in annex 4.
First published in February 2009 by the United Nations Environment Programme © 2009, United Nations Environment Programme
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Editor: Silja Halle
Design and layout: Matija Potocnik
Cover image: © Lynsey Addario/Corbis – Nigerian soldiers with the United Nations African Mission in Darfur patrol a bombed village
Disclaimer: This article is taken wholly from, or contains information that was originally published by, the United Nations Environment Programme. Topic editors and authors for the Encyclopedia of Earth may have edited its content or added new information. The use of information from the United Nations Environment Programme should not be construed as support for or endorsement by that organization for any new information added by EoE personnel, or for any editing of the original content.
This is a chapter from From Conflict to Peacebuilding: The Role of Natural Resources and the Environment (report).
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