Land, Natural Resources and Conflict Prevention: From Curse to Opportunity
An EU-UN Partnership

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The challenges associated with preventing, managing and resolving natural resource-induced conflicts may well come to define global peace and security in the 21st century. Global trends such as demographic changes, increasing consumption, environmental degradation and climate change, are placing significant and potentially unsustainable pressures on the availability and usability of natural resources such as land, water and ecosystems.

The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's message on the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict recalled that "since 1990, at least 18 violent conflicts have been fuelled by the exploitation of natural resources such as timber, minerals, oil and gas. Sometimes this is caused by environmental damage and the marginalization of local populations who fail to benefit economically from natural resource exploitation."

Photo: UNEP

In response to these challenges and risks, the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN) entered into a partnership in 2008 for building capacities for land, natural resources and conflict prevention. The aim of the partnership was to develop and implement a strategic multi-agency project focused on building the capacity of national stakeholders, the UN system and the EU to prevent land and natural resources from contributing to violent conflict.

The United Nations Interagency Framework Team for Preventive Action (FT) manages the joint global UN-EU project financed by the European Union's Instrument for Stability which brings together UN agencies and departments (DESA, DPA, PBSO, HABITAT, IOM, UNDP, and UNEP) to support countries to improve natural resource management for conflict prevention and peace building.

The EU-UN partnership has developed a number of practical guidance notes and training material on land and conflict, extractives and conflict, renewable resources and conflict, capacity building for natural resource management and conflict prevention in resource rich economies. The partnership also produced an analysis called Capacity Inventory of the available capacities for the consensual and sustainable management of land and natural resources within the UN system.

Using the Guidance Notes, on-line interactive modules have also been developed to impart this knowledge and skills particularly to field staff in both the UN and EU, as well as relevant HQ personnel and partners in countries. The on-line training programme begins with a global overview to enhance understanding of the link between natural resources and conflict. The second module focuses specifically on land and conflict, while the third and the fourth relates to extractives and renewable resources and conflict respectively.

The modules are designed for partners in countries, Government institutions, civil society and EU and UN colleagues in the field but also in HQ with the hope of enhancing knowledge and skills on natural resources conflict prevention.

It is our pleasure to share all these materials through this website and we hope this will contribute to the better management of conflict over land and natural resources.