We all rely on the earth’s resources for life, livelihoods, and prosperity. A key element of peaceful, sustainable societies is good governance of natural resources for the benefit of both people and nature. Yet the world is facing increasing threats to its resources and biodiversity in a way that threatens to undermine human and environmental security in the long term. In certain volatile contexts around the world, particularly those characterized by environmental degradation, scarcity, and unequal distribution of resource benefits, the relationship between conflict and the environment is clearly manifest. According to the United Nations Environment Programme, more than 40% of internal conflicts over the last 60 years are linked to the exploitation of natural resources.

From a conservation perspective, natural resource management—much like development—entails the implementation of interventions that aim to change a context for the better. However, with the many complex factors and dynamics that may be linked to these interventions—such as how the decisions are made, who they include and how they impact communities—there is invariably a potential for unintended negative impacts. Conservation can inadvertently lead to conflict in many politically sensitive contexts around the world. However, collaboration around natural resource management and a need to address shared environmental threats can also serve as a catalyst for peace.

The World Resources Institute, Conservation International and other environmental organizations have adopted distinct approaches to environmental peacebuilding in response to local-level dynamics. Through a discussion of these efforts, the links between peace, conflict and the environment are directly manifest, offering support for organizational efforts to integrate conflict-sensitive and peacebuilding perspectives across conservation activities in all contexts.

The format for this 90-minute session is a moderated panel followed by Q&A.


  • Carl Bruch, Director, Environmental Law Institute
  • Leslie Dwyer, Director of the Center for Gender and Conflict Studies, George Mason University
  • Janet Edmond, Senior Director, Conservation International
  • Charles Iceland, Director, World Resources Institute

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Event: Environmental Peacebuilding