Environmental protection in conflict environments: a key enabler of peace and global prosperity

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IIn 2001, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) A/RES/56/4 declared it to be 6th Every November is the International Day for the Prevention of Environmental Exploitation in War and Armed Conflict. While it is understood that lives and livelihoods are lost during conflict and war, the environment remains an undisclosed casualty. exploitation Destruction of the environment and natural resources can occur in a variety of ways, from deforestation to the deliberate pollution of waters to gain military advantage. Furthermore, according to estimates from the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), 40 percent Many of the internal conflicts of the past half century can be linked to the degradation and exploitation of natural resources.

Exploitation and damage to natural resources and the environment different It is determined based on whether the dispute is international or domestic. For example, violent conflicts and wars require large amounts of fuel to fuel the mobilization of troops, leading to increased emissions. Vehicles themselves directly contribute through physical damage to the environment and ecosystems, which can be destroyed. Diversity. In addition to these, the use of various weapons, both conventional and unconventional, contaminates land and water resources with toxic and other metal wastes, with medium and long-term consequences. Radioactive material Factors that can pose chronic and acute health risks to people.

The environmental impacts of conflict can be even greater in the aftermath of conflict due to human displacement. Insecurity causes large-scale voluntary and forced migration, putting enormous pressure on the environment.Location kicked out Additionally, necessities such as water can be strained by a sudden and unplanned increase in dependents. This problem is especially prevalent in urban settlements, leading to expansion of the local population and irreparable strain on the environment. Displacement can be more complex in the following cases: cross the border Refugee movements not only cause cross-border environmental impacts, but also destabilize host countries due to the sudden influx of people.

The need to finance and sustain conflicts and wars is another cause of environmental destruction and exploitation. However, the struggle for control Essential resources Oil, timber, minerals, etc. could intensify the conflict.Mining and process Mineral quantities may lack adequate environmental monitoring. Expensive environmental goods are associated with armed conflicts, especially civil wars.of blood or conflict diamonds These are examples of the exploitation of natural resources to finance conflict.at first Sierra Leonethe nickname blood diamond was used to refer to diamonds that were mined in conflict areas and sold illegally, leading to the financing of violent conflicts.

in him message In 2022, UN Secretary-General António Guterres emphasized the need to reduce environmental degradation and climate change to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Although climate disruption and environmental degradation may not be direct causes of conflict, their combined effects can exacerbate the risk of conflict. The conflict across the countries of the Lake Chad Basin is an example of how this dangerous nexus works. This basin includes countries such as Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Nigeria. Boko Haram. This raises regional security concerns, while the effects of climate change fuel internal conflicts. displacement Nearly 3 million people receive relatively little attention.

In 2021, while much of the world was busy fighting the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the basin was experiencing climate-induced scarcity among various communities dependent on fishing, agriculture, and pastoralism. There was widespread tension due to this.Inter-communal conflict broke out Logone Bagni In another example from Cameroon’s watershed, competition for land, water and food is causing violence. This case is an example of climate change, where environmental degradation can undermine livelihoods, health, socio-economic equality, and trust in institutional environments. Therefore, while their protection can play an essential role in peacebuilding and sustainable development, their degradation further increases existing challenges for vulnerable communities.

The environment as a peacebuilding tool

Issues such as relief, economic reconstruction, humanitarian relief, and political reconciliation often gain immediate attention even as the environment is left behind. In war-torn situations, peacebuilding is an important process aimed at facilitating conditions for ceasefire and conflict resolution. Competition over the environment, especially natural resources, can lead to violence, but it can also play a positive role in peace and confidence-building measures (CBMS). Restoring peace in fragile post-conflict situations involves a range of efforts, from negotiations with warring parties to post-war reconstruction aimed at socio-economic development.

An important policy concern in post-conflict states is macroeconomics Stability to ensure growth returns and job creation. Re-establishment of public systems such as monetary policy, trade policy, banking systems and other key infrastructures to enable the process of development and increase gross domestic product (GDP). Such a fragile situation tends to cause decision-makers to shift their focus to measures that can quickly generate returns, which often results in investments in resources that can be extracted from the environment. However, this may create new conditions for conflict, particularly in matters related to the subsequent distribution and utilization of income. Therefore, it becomes essential to develop policies and management measures to ensure stability.

building of peace and its maintenance in the short, medium and long term, taken to meet basic needs of life such as food, water and shelter, while striving to strengthen governance to address deficiencies that may lead to further conflict. It also depends on the measures taken. Integrating these policy actions with measures to manage natural resources and the environment can contribute to peace.Cooperation mechanisms based on environmental conservation through joint management such as kimberly process (KP) or indus water treaty. The KP, which has been in force since 2003, is an international trade regime designed to increase transparency and oversight and overcome the blood diamond problem by eliminating blood diamond trade. The process requires certification Diamonds that are not used to benefit anti-government movements. These examples illustrate how the environment played a role in peacebuilding and the continuation of diplomatic relations. Policy decisions need to be driven to explore sustainable ways to harness the environment and its capacity to support economic recovery, support for displaced populations, and livelihood security. The aftermath of armed conflict and war is a vulnerable situation where access to essential goods is difficult, and failure to address these needs can make it difficult to promote stability and peacebuilding. Here, including the idea of ​​sustainable livelihoods as a policy instrument could provide a reliable framework for humanitarian assistance while ensuring environmental sustainability.

Despite being at the center of war, or destroyed during it, this environment continues to inspire common interests, initiating dialogue, building trust, and promoting broader continues to be an effective platform and active catalyst for strengthening cooperation. environmental peacebuilding This is a possible solution to emphasize how interdependent countries are and encourage them to initiate cross-border communication channels, while emphasizing the need for shared management of the environment and natural resources. This is based on the notion that such cooperation mechanisms could facilitate communication and interaction between adversaries and potentially resolve existing anxieties. The international community and organizations therefore need to recognize the complex interplay and consider the environment as a key determinant of conflict prevention and post-conflict reconstruction. As many countries enter the international arena after protracted conflicts, international systems, regional organizations, and multilateral forums need to assist countries in identifying and adapting measures to avoid further outbreaks and exploitation. There is. But while international cooperation is essential, we also need a multi-layered approach at the local level, involving a variety of stakeholders across ethnic, social and political factions.

[Header image: Agent Orange, a herbicide, being sprayed on farmland during the Vietnam War. Credit: Brian K. Grigsby, SPC5, via Wikimedia Commons]

Kiran Bhatt He is a research fellow at Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Prasanna School of Public Health, Department of Global Health Governance, and Center for Health Diplomacy. He holds a Master’s degree in Geopolitics and International Relations from his MAHE. His graduation was in Economics (Honours) from Christ (considered University). His main research areas are political economy, international financial institutions, economic warfare, defense budgeting, and health diplomacy.

Professor Sanjay Pattanshetty Professor and Head of the Department of Global Health Governance and Coordinator of the Center for Health Diplomacy, Prasanna School of Public Health, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Manipal, Karnataka, India. He holds an MD in Community Health from the Manipal Academy of Higher Education and a double Master’s degree in Public Policy and Human Development from Maastricht University and United Nations University in the Netherlands. He is also affiliated with CAPHRI, Institute for Global Health, Care and Public Health, Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Maastricht University, 6211 LK, Maastricht, The Netherlands.

Professor Helmut Brand — Jean Monnet, Founding Director of the MAHE Prasanna School of Public Health and Professor of European Public Health. He studied medicine in Düsseldorf and Zurich and received a master’s degree in community medicine from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the London School of Economics. He is also affiliated with Maastricht University, Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, International Health, Care and Public Health Research Institute, CAPHRI, 6211 LK, Maastricht, The Netherlands.



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