The United Nations Secretary-General has called for better management of natural resources and ecosystems to pave a path towards peace in war-torn societies and help crisis-affected countries boost sustainable development.
“Not only do natural resources underpin the delivery of many basic services, such as water or electricity, but they can also be used as a platform for trust building and benefit sharing between divided groups,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a 6 November message marking International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict.
“Conflict and the environment are deeply interlinked,” continued Guterres. “Around the world, at least 40 Percent of all intrastate conflicts have had an important natural resource dimension. Rising temperatures due to climate change now threaten to further amplify environmental stresses and tensions".
“And all too often, the environment is among the casualties of war, through deliberate acts of destruction or collateral damage, or because, during conflicts, governments fail to control and manage natural resources,” he added.
While climate disruption and environmental degradation are not the direct cause of conflict, Guterras said they can exacerbate the risk of conflict, noting that their combined impacts undermine livelihoods, food security, confidence in government, health and education, and social equality. In addition, conflict-affected states are also less likely to reach their Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets.
There are indications that by 2030, more than 80 Percent of the world’s poorest populations may be concentrated in countries affected by fragility, conflict and violence, further complicated by rising temperatures and impacts of climate change.