Geneva/Nairobi, 8 October 2012 - A new set of manuals to improve natural resource management in order to reduce the risk of conflict has been launched by the United Nations (UN).
The toolkit composed of five guidance notes will provide technical assistance to UN and European Union (EU) staff, in addition to national stakeholders. The goal is to equip both individuals and organizations with the skills and tools needed to understand, anticipate, prevent, and mitigate potential conflicts over natural resources.
The five components of the toolkit - Land, Extractive Industries, Renewable Resources, Strengthening Capacity & Resource-Rich Economies - all aim to demonstrate how well-managed natural resources can prevent conflict or contribute to peace and sustainable development in war-torn nations.
The linkages between natural resources and violent conflict are a critical challenge faced by many countries today. The exploitation of high-value natural resources, including oil, gas, minerals and timber, for example, has often been cited as a key factor in triggering, escalating or sustaining wars around the globe.
Furthermore, increasing competition for diminishing renewable resources, such as land and water, is on the rise, compounded by environmental degradation, population growth and climate change.
"This toolkit provides a critical foundation for understanding and dealing with conflict prevention through proper management of all kinds of natural resources, including land, renewables and non-renewables," said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director. "By providing these guidance notes to all of those involved in conflict prevention, we aim to broaden the understanding of natural resource management to contribute to a peaceful and sustainable future," he added.
The guidance notes were also devised within the context of the so-called "resource curse", a paradoxical phenomenon in which natural resource-rich countries underperform resource-poor ones in economic growth and development. Countries suffering from the resource curse often have weak institutions, are over dependent on natural resources and thus vulnerable to shocks, and lack appropriate income redistribution mechanisms, all of which contribute to the eruption of violent conflict. Once conflict has erupted, natural resources can provide financing to armed groups, extending the duration of the conflict, delaying peace processes, and having the potential to reignite conflict after peace has been achieved.
The toolkit - authored by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT), the UN Department of Political Affairs (DPA), and the Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO) - was financed by the EU's Instrument for Stability and coordinated by the UN Interagency Framework Team for Preventive Action.
The toolkits are available at:
An online training program of the toolkit will be available in coming days, and a dedicated EU-UN website is currently being developed to assist dissemination of the information.
Notes to Editors
About the United Nations Interagency Framework Team for Preventive Action - The United Nations Interagency Framework Team for Preventive Action (the FT) is an internal UN support mechanism that assists UN Resident Coordinators (RCs) and UN Country Teams (UNCTs) in developing conflict prevention strategies and programmes. Operating since 1995, the FT works closely with UN departments and UN agencies, funds and programmes to improve programme effectiveness through better interagency collaboration within Headquarters, and between Headquarters and the field. The framework team coordinates the partnership between the United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU) entitled Preventing and Managing Land and Natural Resources Conflict' on behalf of the partner agencies.