Following is UN Secretary—General Ban Ki‑moon’s message for the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict, to be observed on 6 November:
The environment has long been a silent casualty of war and armed conflict. From the contamination of land and the destruction of forests to the plunder of natural resources and the collapse of management systems, the environmental consequences of war are often widespread and devastating.
Armed conflicts are becoming ever more complex and require solutions that address the root causes. Issues of poverty, vulnerability to climate shocks, ethnic marginalization and the transparent, sustainable and equitable management of natural resources must be considered within and alongside peace agreements if we are to build more resilient and prosperous societies.
On this international day, let us reaffirm our commitment to protect the environment from the impacts of war and to prevent future conflicts over natural resources. These challenges are even more urgent as the international community formulates the post-2015 sustainable development agenda.
We must use all of the tools at our disposal, from dialogue and mediation to preventive diplomacy, to keep the unsustainable exploitation of natural resources from fuelling and financing armed conflict and destabilizing the fragile foundations of peace.
Let us develop solutions that meaningfully involve local communities and build on our collective knowledge to advance good stewardship of the environment as an integral part of peacebuilding and sustainable development.