UNITED NATIONS – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Sunday underscored the need for shared duty of care towards the environment in peace time and during war to ensure a healthy planet.
“Poor governance of the environment and natural resources can contribute to the outbreak of conflict. It can fuel and finance existing conflicts and it can increase the risk of relapse. Conversely, there are many examples of natural resources serving as catalysts for peaceful cooperation, confidence building and poverty reduction,” the secretary-general said in his message to mark the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict.
The UN chief noted that in the aftermath of violent conflict, natural resources, such as land, timber, minerals, oil and gas, are often the primary assets that governments need to support livelihoods and economic recovery.
“How governments manage these resources can fundamentally alter the course of post-conflict peacebuilding,” the Secretary-General said, underscoring the need to work together to combat environmental crime, end the illegal exploitation of natural resources, improve transparency, share benefits more equitably and encourage the participation of women, indigenous peoples and vulnerable groups in decision-making.
The important message of the 2030 Agenda is that “sustainable development cannot be realised without peace and security and peace and security will be at risk without sustainable development.” Therefore, this year, all 193 Member States of the UN Environment Assembly adopted a resolution committing States to the protection of the environment in areas affected by armed conflict.
In addition, the UN International Law Commission is going over the legal framework to establish guidelines to better support environment preservation, particularly in protected areas, and environmentally sensitive sites, especially drinking water aquifers, that are vital to humans.
“On this International Day, I urge governments, businesses and citizens around the world to prioritise environmental care and the sustainable management of natural resources for preventing conflict, building peace and promoting lasting prosperity,” stated the Secretary-General.