06 Nov 2017 Story Disasters & conflicts

UN Environment launches online course on environmental security and sustaining peace

UN Environment and partners are pleased to announce a new massive open online course on environmental security and sustaining peace.

The announcement comes on International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict, which aims to prevent the unsustainable exploitation of natural resources from fueling conflict or threatening peace.

Conflicts over natural resources are among the greatest challenges in 21st century geopolitics, and present serious threats to human security. At least 40 per cent of all internal armed conflicts over the past 65 years have had an important natural resource dimension. Since 1989, more than 35 major armed conflicts have been financed by revenues from conflict resources. In the coming years, extreme climate stresses are expected to double the risk of violent conflict.

Despite the risks that war and armed conflict pose for the environment and the role that natural resources may play in fueling or amplifying armed conflicts, there are also significant opportunities linking the environment and peacebuilding.

UN Environment Executive Director Erik Solheim said: “Today is the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict. But let’s also not forget the power of environmental cooperation to drive peace and prosperity”.

Indeed, knowledge and experience regarding the important role of natural resources and the environment in post-conflict peacebuilding has grown immensely over the past two decades.

Building on these experiences, UN Environment has teamed up with the Environmental Law Institute, the Earth Institute at Columbia University, Duke University, and the University of California at Irvine to develop a groundbreaking new massive open online course on Environmental Security and Sustaining Peace.

Offered on the SDG Academy platform, the course synthesizes 100,000 pages of material and 225 case studies from over 60 post-conflict countries into seven hours of dynamic video lectures.The course is based on the experiences and lessons learned of over 1,000 experts and 10 UN agencies.

“The goal is to build a new community of 10,000 practitioners that can make natural resources a reason for cooperation rather than conflict,” Erik Solheim said.  

The course covers a range of natural resources, from extractives to land and water, as well as a range of tools and approaches from conflict and gender sensitivity to assessments, meditation and spatial planning. All UN staff members working on peace and security or on natural resources and the environment are encouraged to enroll.

Enrollment opens on 6 November at:  http://bit.ly/envt-peace

The 10-week course begins on 1 March 2018 and ends on 10 May 2018.