In the UN system, few other issues cut across as many institutional mandates and national interests as natural resources.

Ultimately, supporting countries to effectively address conflict risks and peacebuilding opportunities from natural resources requires a strategy that goes well beyond the mandates and capacities of individual UN agencies. The key challenge faced by the UN system is how to coordinate and deploy the five core operational areas in a more effective and coherent way. These include peace and security, human rights, sustainable development, humanitarian assistance and international law. For this reason, UNEP can only address the conflict risks and peacebuilding opportunities from natural resources by working as a technical partner with other UN entities addressing conflict prevention, mediation, peacekeeping and peacebuilding. These partnerships are:

Global Research Programme on Post-Conflict Peacebuilding and Natural Resources: The Environmental Law Institute (ELI), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the Universities of Tokyo and McGill initiated a global research programme to collect lessons learned and good practices on managing natural resources during post-conflict peacebuilding. This four-year research project has yielded more than 150 peer-reviewed case studies and analyses by over 230 scholars, practitioners, and decision makers from 55 countries. In their diversity and number, the books represent the most significant collection to date of experiences, analyses, and lessons in managing natural resources to support post-conflict peacebuilding. For more information on these publications please click here or visit the partnership’s page.

Environmental Peacebuilding: UNEP is a partner in the development of a new frontier of inter-disciplinary studies known as “Environmental Peacebuilding”. This field offers a conceptual and operational framework for academics and field practitioners to understand and maximize the positive peacebuilding potential of natural resources across the conflict lifecycle while mitigating potential risks. In practical terms, environmental peacebuilding is the process of governing and managing natural resources and the environment to support durable peace. It includes efforts to prevent, mitigate, resolve, and recover from violent conflict, and involves renewable natural resources (such as land, water, forests, and fisheries), non-renewable natural resources (such as minerals, oil, and gas), and ecosystems (including their services). Environmental Peacebuilding is based on a comprehensive understanding of the role that natural resources and the environment play across the three main phases of the conflict lifecycle.

Greening Peacekeeping Operations (UNEP, DPKO and DFS): These three organizations have collaborated for nearly 10 years, from the development and adoption of the Environmental Policy for UN Field Mission to policy implementation in the field.  The latest product of this partnership is the milestone policy implementation review report, titled: “Greening the Blue Helmets: Environment, Natural Resources and UN Peacekeeeping Operations”. The recommendations from this 2012 report form the basis of the new five year technical cooperation framework which aims to ensure systematic policy implementation across all peacekeeping missions.

Mapping and Assessing the Performance of Extractive Industries (UNEP and World Bank): MAP-X is a partnership between UNEP and the World Bank to develop an open data platform for the extractives sector that will provide authoritative information to all stakeholders on the financial, social and environmental performance of the extractives sector at the local and national level.  It is being designed to build trust among stakeholders, reduce conflict and improve the development impact of the sector. MAP-X was developed at the request of the g7+ group of conflict affected countries and is being designed to support on-going EITI reporting as well as other related transparency initiatives and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Women and natural resources in  peacebuilding (UNEP - UN Women - PBSO - UNDP):  UNEP has established a partnership with UN Women, PBSO and UNDP to support the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 and other decisions on women, peace and security by: (i) improving the understanding of the complex relationship between women and natural resources in conflict-affected settings, and (ii) making the case for pursuing gender equality, women’s empowerment and sustainable natural resource management together in support of improved peacebuilding outcomes. This collaboration has resulted in a joint policy report, released on 6 November 2013.

Climate Change and Security (UNEP and EU): As a direct follow-up to the G7 report “A New Climate for Peace” UNEP has established a partnership with the EU to address the security implications of climate change in two pilot countries. At the national level, UNEP will develop and deploy a state-of-the-art methodology to help stakeholders map and prioritize climate change and security hotspots. UNEP will then help key national stakeholders identify the most suitable combination of physical and institutional investments to reduce specific security threats. At the local level, UNEP will work directly with communities to pilot test innovative approaches to measuring and building resilience to a range of different climate change and security risks.

UNEP Expert Group on Environment, Conflict and Peace: UNEP established the Expert Group on Environment, Conflict and Peacebuilding in February 2008 in cooperation with the Environment and Security programme of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD). Consisting of leading academics, think tanks and non-governmental organizations with combined experience from over thirty conflict-affected countries, the Group provides policy inputs, develops tools, and identifies best practice for using natural resources and the environment in ways that contribute to peacebuilding and prevent conflict.  

Members include: Alexander Carius, Ken Conca, Geoff Dabelko, Mike Davis, Juan Dumas, Mark Halle, Patricia Kameri-Mbote, Richard Matthew, Silas Kpanan’Ayoung Siakor, Erika Weinthal.