Transboundary water cooperation as a tool for conflict prevention and broader benefit-sharing. Global Development Studies, No. 4. Stockholm: Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
Water Scarcity Challenges in the Middle East and North Africa. Stockholm: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)/Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI).
Vast deposits of gold, silver and copper in the Andes Mountains have led to the first outbreaks of violence. In mid November, clashes occurred not among rival gold diggers, but rather between environmentalists and the police in the Chilean capital, Santiago. The conflict arose over gold mining in Pascua-Lama, a region located high in the Andes between Chile and Argentina. The Canadian mining company Barrick Gold Corporation plans to displace three glaciers to facilitate mineral mining. Such a move would have major impacts on the water supply and habitat of several indigenous tribes. Violent clashes took place when protesters attempted to submit a petition containing 18,000 signatures against the company's plans.
The conflict over exploitation rights, which pose a threat to the existence of the indigenous Huascoaltinos community, has been brewing for a long time. In 2001, the company was asked by the Chilean environment ministry to draw up a plan for the glaciers. The Environmental Impact Assessment submitted previously by Barrick had sidestepped this issue. The company has now, as a first step, committed USD 60 million per year for ensuring water quality. A dam is to be constructed to guarantee regular water supply. The Latin American Observatory of Environmental Conflicts (OCLA), an independent watchdog organization, views this conflict as symptomatic of the large number of environmental conflicts in Chile resulting from poor environmental legislation. There are neither any guidelines to ensure adequate participation of civil society in resolving conflicts, nor any mechanisms to minimize the ecological and social impacts of the activities of large corporations. These environmental policy shortcomings may result in gold actually moving mountains (DT).
For more information on this conflict, please see:
Latin American Observatory of Environmental Conflicts (OCLA) (in Spanish) www.ocla.cl
Barrick Gold Corporation in Chile (in Spanish) www.barrick.cl
Inter Press Service Agency (IPS) http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=30994
Even without the hurricanes of the last months, the vulnerability of national energy supply would have been a priority on foreign and security policy agendas. Even before the devastation wrought by Katrina and Rita, top level representatives of political establishments recognized the need for a strategic reorientation of energy policy. This was emphasized by the "Oil Shockwave" exercise carried out by former top US officials in energy and security policy. Simulating a crisis cabinet, they examined options available to US policy in a scenario in which oil supply on world markets drops in response to political crises, terrorist strikes, and adverse weather conditions. As the scenario played out, there were insufficient options available to avert massive economic losses. The virtual cabinet urgently recommended developing a long term strategy to regain the capability to respond to such situations.
The contours of such a strategy are the central theme of a recent book edited by Jan H. Kalicki and David L. Goldwyn. A comprehensive analysis of key actors, regions, and strategic demands reveals that it has so far not been possible to develop a long term, integrated energy strategy. This is likely to lead to foreign policy, economic and environmental contradictions, which are likely to escalate with time. A framework to minimize such risks is outlined, which is directed primarily towards the international level. However, national energy policy is also required to find ways to exploit the existing potential for energy conservation. At the foreign policy level, more multilateral cooperation is required to meet the challenge of the rising global energy demand through a collective security system. An international institution, which adequately reflects the global nature of risks by involving countries like China and India, could play a key role in this kind of energy security architecture (DT).
For more information on the "Oil shockwave" scenario please see http://www.secureenergy.org/shockwave_overview.php
For more information on "Energy and Security: Toward a New Foreign Policy Strategy" by Jan H. Kalicki and David L. Goldwyn please see http://www.press.jhu.edu/books/title_pages/8957.html
The U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Office of Conflict Management and Mitigation (CMM) has published the next two toolkits in their series:
“CMM continues to develop packages of technical assistance in a number of critical focus areas that are related to conflict, including youth, land, local governance, water, natural resources, livelihoods, human rights and gender. These "toolkits" explain the connections between the focus area and conflict and aim to provide USAID missions with access to concrete, practical program options, lessons learned, and information about potential partners, mechanisms and monitoring and evaluation tools for implementing more effective conflict programs.”
This time attention is focussed on the relationship of forests and livelihoods to violent conflict. The 'forests and conflict’ toolkit, together with the 'valuable minerals’ (published earlier) and the 'water’ toolkit (to be published) are intended to highlight the different linkages these natural resources have to violent conflict, taking into account their fundamental differences in term of economic value, availability, and especially physical characteristics. These toolkits therefore present an overview of how the resources are connected to violent conflict on the one hand, and emphasize the possibility of environmental cooperation for trust and peace building on the other. The new toolkit on livelihoods brings together many aspects of the toolkits on natural resources and land. At the same time, it focuses on the vital concept of livelihood in its own right, highlighting the (socio-)economic links to violent conflict (MF).
To download all toolkits and read about the work of USAID’s CMM, please see
The Environment and Security (ENVSEC) initiative’s Advisory Board meeting was held in Bratislava on 29-30 of September 2005. The meeting brought together the ENVSEC national focal points, donors, partner organisations, and other stakeholders. The participants (altogether 108) discussed the progress of the initiative as well as its future work. For each country of concern to ENVSEC, national implementation activities were presented. Transboundary environmental considerations (natural resource management and hazardous risks) and their impact on human security were additionally discussed in parallel theme sessions. For each region, in which ENVSEC is active (Caucasus, Central Asia, South Eastern Europe, Eastern Europe) working groups were held to debate on the latest developments, key projects and issues. For details on these points please refer to the ’Report of the Advisory Board Meeting’ at www.envsec.org.
One central theme of the session on future developments was the issue of growth. The initiative now spans four regions and plans dozens of projects. Some meeting participants were cautious of this fact and pointed to the small and efficient secretariat, which may have difficulties managing a continuously expanding initiative. Rather than becoming an umbrella initiative for all environmental projects in each region, it was suggested that ENVSEC should focus on transboundary environmental issues. An evaluation of ENVSEC programmes would additionally generate important feedback for the further management of the initiative.
Other participants argued to move beyond the boundaries of Europe and include other regions with environment and security problems, such as the African Great Lakes region. However, one of the unique selling points of the initiative, its high political standing through the collaboration with foreign ministries, would be more difficult to achieve in regions beyond OSCE’s mandate.
In the meanwhile, the perspective of the UN Economic Commission for Europe and the Regional Environmental Centre for Eastern Europe joining the initiative was widely advocated. These organisations in particular present possibilities of synergies with ongoing and planned ENVSEC activities. Additionally, the idea of ENVSEC’s potential collaboration with International Funding Institutions was raised for the financing of projects of common interest (MF).
For a full report of the ENVSEC Advisory Board Meeting and other ENVSEC activities, please see: www.envsec.org.
Is access to water a human right? If it is, does an internationally recognized legal framework exist that can be implemented at the national and local level? These questions determined the agenda of the international conference on "Water as a Human Right", which took place from 21 - 22 October 2005. Inaugurating the 5th Forum Global Issues compact on the eve of the conference, then Minister of State Kerstin Mueller stressed that, "If we manage to deal with water - a vital, basic resource - in a more equitable, efficient and sustainable manner, we will simultaneously help resolve several conflicts."
The underlying issue at the conference, jointly organized by the German Foreign Office and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, was the "General Comment on the Right to Water" adopted in 2002. The United Nations regards the Comment as a milestone and an official endorsement of the right to water. The precedence of international human rights law over nation states' obligations arising from international economic agreements, as formulated in the Comment, is significant, especially with regard to provision of water for the poor and for future generations.
While the first day of the conference was devoted to the legal ramifications of water being regarded a basic human right, the practical aspects of implementing such a right were discussed extensively on the second day. The debate revolved around the future role of privatization and funding of this "blue gold". Regret was expressed that no representatives from International Financial Institutions (IFIs) such as the World Bank or the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development were present, who could have contributed substantively to the discussion. One thing is certain, however. The need to resolve the remaining legal grey areas, which became evident during the conference, cannot justify that 1.1 billion people still lack access to clean drinking water. Finding solutions to the global water and sanitation problems as stated in the Millennium Development Goals and reiterated at the UN World Summit in September 2005 calls for immediate action, regardless of the attendant legal issues. (EM)
For more information on the conference, please see here
Nelson Mandela stated: “I know of no political movement, no philosophy, no ideology, which does not agree with the peace parks concept as we see it going into fruition today. It is a concept that can be embraced by all.” Parks for peace—transboundary conservation areas dedicated to the promotion of peace and cooperation—hold great promise and appeal, but have they lived up to this promise? Some say yes, others respectfully disagree with the former South African President’s assertion. A recent day-long conference hosted by the Environmental Change and Security Program explored the rhetoric and reality of peace parks, including their goals and the factors that determine their success or failure. Drawing on future plans and successful projects in southern Africa, Kashmir, and the Korean peninsula, the speakers debated whether peace parks can protect the environment and promote conflict resolution. The International Gorilla Conservation Programme, for example, brings together people in the conflict-ridden countries of Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to work toward a common goal: preserving the mountain gorilla. As a man working in the transboundary area told conference speaker Charles Besançon, "When we come together, we are conservationists. We all care about the mountain gorillas, so it is quite easy for us to get along."
The debate over peace parks and transboundary areas will continue for some time, as discussions on future challenges during the final session indicated. Identifying public outreach as an important area, Dr. Kim said, “You have to have comprehensive outreach programs before you actually set up peace parks programs. Particularly if you want to promote democracy worldwide, the public must be educated.” Another area of debate involved the definition of “peace park” and related terms, such as “transboundary conservation area.” Several attendees commented that the lack of a consistent and agreed-upon typology often leads to confusion and hinders international discussions and legal agreements. In their background paper, Besançon and his co-author Trevor Sandwith propose a typology to help resolve this confusion. (by Alison Williams, Environmental Change and Security Programme, Woodrow Wilson Center)
For more information about the conference (conference report, programme, papers), please see here
Global Transboundary Protected Areas Network http://www.tbpa.net/
Peace Parks Foundation http://www.peaceparks.org/
The International Journal of Environmental Issues published a Call for Papers for a Special Issue on “Environmental conflict and security revisited: Examining multilevel interactions and responses to environmental degradation”
While a plethora of investigation has explored the links between environmental/resource conflict and (in)security, many studies are based on a single level of analysis, privileging the state, the international community, municipal government, non-state actors, or others. The purpose of this call for papers is to revisit, reflect, open, and advance the debate over environmental resources and conflict and to encourage an explicitly multilevel analytic approach. Conflict is defined broadly, to not only include examples of specific human conflict over resources, but also conflicts between policy prescriptions and norms relating to environmental degradation and resource use. Beyond conflicts between social groups over natural resources, we are interested in analyses of conflict between different levels of governance and human agency. Contributions from a wide range of disciplines are encouraged, including but not limited to history, sociology, anthropology, political science, environmental studies, development studies, geography, economics, and natural sciences.
For more information and the programme, please see http://www.inderscience.com/browse/callpaper.php?callID=293