Managing Natural Resources For Post-Conflict Reintegration and Recovery

07 May 2012 | News story

At the end of February 2012, Mark van der Wal, a TECS member represented IUCN and TECS at a workshop on MANAGING NATURAL RESOURCES FOR POST-CONFLICT REINTEGRATION AND RECOVERY in Montreux , Switzerland.

The meeting was organized jointly by the UNEP Post-Conflict and Disaster Management Branch (UNEP/PCDMB), the UNDP Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery (UNDP/ BCPR), the Center for Stabilization and Reconstruction Studies (CSRS) and the Inter-Agency Working Group on Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (IAWG)

The participants were an interesting and balanced mix between the various UN agencies, military, representatives of the private sector (including one of the largest US waste management & recycling companies) and NGOs (big and small) working on peacebuilding, conflict resolution and transparency issues. The participants came from / had extensive working experience in a wide range of conflict countries, from Nepal to Bosnia, from the Democratic Republic of Congo to Indonesia (Aceh), to Papua New Guinea.

The main purpose of the meeting was to mainstream environmental aspects into the “Disarmament, Demobilization and Reinterration (DDR) thinking”, and more specifically to provide comments on the draft UN Interagency Working Group on DDR training module: IDDRS Module 6.30 on Natural Resources and DDR (this will remain a living document) . As of mid-March all relevant info should also be available on the UN site: www.unddr.org

The stated learning objectives for the participants were to:

  1. Analyse the relationships between natural resources and conflict and the role of natural resource management in contributing to reintegration, recovery, and peacebuilding in conflict/post-conflict contexts.
  2. Apply a range of policy and programmatic approaches for promoting livelihoods recovery, reintegration and peace building through natural resource management, including gender considerations.
  3. Identify and develop innovative practices and tools, based on lessons learned and good practices, to integrate natural resources into reintegration and recovery programming.
  4. Evaluate the opportunities to more effectively address natural resources through integrated programmatic approaches and institutional mechanisms.

A key interest in the meeting was sharing knowledge on how to take environmental aspects into account in post conflict recovery programmes including for job creation to enhance integration of ex-combatants into society.

The presentations and panels discussed green business development opportunities (e.g. UNCTAD Bio-trade Initiative), the role of the military in the private sector (discussions following a presentation by Transparency International) and waste recycling both as a DDR job opportunity and as a moral obligation of the international community, that has a significant ecological footprint in conflict and post-conflict societies.

The workshop discussions revealed several gaps and areas in in which TECS could consider a role, these are:

  • Independent monitoring of natural resource governance & law enforcement during post conflict recovery and peacebuilding
  • Enhanced transparency around major (national government signed) private sector contracts involving extractive and plantation industries,
  • Assuring appropriate integration of natural resources and ecosystem services in post conflict development scenarios in order to avoid future conflicts over scarce natural resources or land (access),
  • Unclear land & water tenure rights are a serious problem for most early recovery programmes,
  • Grazing rights in relation to land grabs for food export leading to new security issues (particularly in Africa),
  • Struggle over water in relation to the boom in mining activities (especially in Latin America),
  • Traditional land use practises are not able to face new industrial scale investment practises and there is a lack of investment policies protecting local rights (mentioned specifically in the Asia Pacific group but import for other regions),
  • Lack of civil society organization power and effective input in negotiating fair concession agreements (mining, logging, plantation estates etc),
  • Conflict mapping tools are poorly used (if at all) by DDR practitioners.

Following the meeting TECS has provided comments on the UNDP-UNEP Joint report, Managing Natural Resources for Post-Conflict Reintegration and Recovery.