Calapa seedling 

Conservation and peace

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


Different kinds of conflict can directly harm or otherwise undermine conservation efforts. Done right, conservation can support nature’s resilience and build peace.

The stakes are high: Many of the world’s conflict zones are located in biodiversity hotspots, and the links between natural resources, climate change and certain conflicts are increasingly recognized. Conservation is extremely challenging without peace, but the role of nature in helping to manage conflict or broker peace is often overlooked.

This is where Conservation International is leading the way. Through our Center for Communities and Conservation, we are committed to understanding and fostering nature’s role in resolving conflict — for nature and our own well-being.


Why is it important?

of conflicts
Between 1950 and 2000, 81 percent of conflicts took place wholly or partially within biodiversity hotspots.
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, Founder, Green Belt Movement and 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate
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 between stakeholders over values, priorities and other factors. If carried out with care, however, conservation efforts can encourage collaboration, transform relationships and support peace.

This manual is designed to build the capacity of Conservation International's staff — and other conservation practitioners and organizations — to better understand and respond to conflicts that can arise from or have impacts on conservation initiatives, and to capitalize on opportunities to support peacebuilding in local communities.

Our role

Our conflict sensitivity and peacebuilding team works across Conservation International's field offices and with global programs focused on climate change, biodiversity and other key initiatives. Through our work, we build staff and partners’ skills and develop tools to help Conservation International respond to and manage conflicts in the places where we work and promote peace through conservation — creating space for dialogue, cooperation and collaborative decision-making. This work builds on Conservation International’s “rights-based approach,” promoting good governance and providing a foundation for strong partnerships and inclusivity.

Lessons learned

In this report, Conservation International aims to summarize and share its experience in supporting conflict sensitivity and, when relevant, incorporating environmental peacebuilding elements in its work. The focus of this brief report is on key lessons learned over more than 10 years of experience – both from the perspective of organizational transformation and in relation to operations and programming.

Further, this report is meant to provide a starting point for knowledge exchange for peer organizations, as well as organizations from different fields working in similar landscapes or facing shared challenges. Knowledge exchange is essential and timely; evidence for the complex linkages between conflict, peace, natural resources and climate change is growing while the urgency for action on climate and biodiversity intensifies.

The report is available in English, Spanish, French or Portuguese.

Our projects

The project ‘Restoring nature and peace threatened by climate change: monitoring human security benefits of EbA in Kenya’, supported by the Global EbA Fund aims to demonstrate how Ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) -- the use of nature to address climate impacts on people and livelihoods – can improve peace and human security. The project will produce empirical evidence on the potential that grassland restoration has for reducing conflicts among people and between people and wildlife in the context of an existing project, funded by Apple, which is restoring 11,000 hectares of rangelands. Conservation International is conducting household surveys to track conflicts as rangeland restoration is progressing and developing tools to make restoration projects resilient to climate change and sensitive to social dynamics.

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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 Follow us on: Twitter: Facebook: Instagram:


Conservation International is a member of the Environmental Peacebuilding Association and the Alliance for Peacebuilding.