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Conservation and peace

Where humans use land or natural resources in incompatible ways, conflict can arise. Where there is human conflict, nature loses.

© Benjamin Drummond

The stakes for nature are high: Many of the world’s conflict zones are in places where biodiversity is highest. Conservation cannot happen without peace, but the role of nature itself in helping to broker peace is often overlooked. This is where Conservation International is leading the way. Through our Policy Center for Environment and Peace, we are committed to fostering nature’s role in resolving conflict — for nature’s well-being and our own.

Why is it important?

81% of conflicts

Between 1950 and 2000, 81 percent of conflicts took place wholly or partially within biodiversity hotspots.

40% of conflicts between countries

In 2009, about 40 percent of violent conflicts between countries were linked to natural resources.

> 40% of conflicts within countries

In the past 60 years, at least 40 percent of all conflicts within countries have a link to natural resources.

In a few decades, the relationship between the environment, resources and conflict may seem almost as obvious as the connection we see today between human rights, democracy and peace.
— Wangari Maathai
 
Members of the CI Policy Center for Environment & Peace hold a training workshop in Palawan, Philippines.
© CI/photo by Kimberly Hoong

Environmental Peacebuilding Training Manual

Conserving nature requires engagement with the local communities who depend on it — but conflicts can arise over competing stakeholders and priorities. If carried out with care, however, conservation efforts can actually encourage collaboration.

This manual is designed to build the capacity of Conservation International's staff — and other conservation practitioners and organizations — to better respond to conflicts arising from conservation initiatives and to capitalize on opportunities to support peacebuilding in local communities.

See the manual

Our role

Our peacebuilding team works across Conservation International's field offices to integrate awareness of human rights into conservation to help create stability in places affected by conflict Through our work, we provide a range of tools for peacebuilding such as land-use planning and community-based natural resource management — creating space for dialogue, cooperation and collaborative decision-making over natural resources. We encourage best practices in environmental peacebuilding based on a “rights-based approach,” which promotes good governance and allows for participation of all.

Case studies

Africa

In Liberia’s East Nimba Nature Reserve (ENNR), Conservation International is using conservation agreements, a model in which communities receive benefits in return for undertaking specific conservation activities. The conservation agreements help to resolve disputes between government authorities managing the reserve and local people who use the forest for their livelihoods but who were not engaged when the reserve was established. Through the agreements, the ENNR is protected in return for investments in community health, education, infrastructure and jobs. Conservation International is working to expand the program as a model for sustainable development across Liberia.

Woman carries a basket of food
© World Wildlife Fund, Inc. / Tory Read

Asia

Since 2010, Conservation International has been working with three conflict-affected communities in Timor-Leste’s Nino Konis Santana National Park to establish the first model of co-management for natural resources. Using tools to ensure that decision-making processes are inclusive and effectively promoting human rights, Conservation International is working to improve management of the park in order to boost local food security, fight climate change and improve livelihoods for local people. The process has helped reduce local conflict and foster collaboration.

Inka Trail, Peru
© Luana Luna

South America

In the contested Cordillera del Cóndor region between Peru and Ecuador, Conservation International partnered with government and scientists to conduct a rapid assessment survey that confirmed the biological significance of the trans-boundary mountain range. This independent, third-party research helped put conservation on the peacebuilding agenda in this region. In 2002, the two governments signed a treaty to create a network of protected areas that called for coordination between national environmental and diplomatic authorities, as well as the strengthening of indigenous organizations and their governance mechanisms.

From the blog

Related content

Conservation International brought together staff from across South America to discuss the linkages between gender, conflict and natural resource management. Through sharing individual experiences, the exchange enhanced the understanding of these links and identified the best practices to use when creating integrated environmental peacebuilding programs. | Learn more at http://ci-intl.org/2a6SSx3 Follow us on: Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ConservationOrg Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/conservation.intl Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ConservationOrg