Today, November 6, the United Nations draws attention to one of the least known victims of armed conflicts: the environment
War and armed conflicts have been a constant in human history. From conflicts by territories as well as by natural resources, humanity has faced wars. These have left thousands of negative consequences.
These consequences have left losses in human lives and infrastructures, but we rarely think about the consequences and losses suffered by the environment. In fact, the United Nations says that during war people get to dangerous measures such as "contaminated water wells, burnt crops, cut forests, poisoned soils and slaughtered animals".
Additionally, according to this same organization, during the last 60 years, approximately 40% of the internal conflicts have been produced by the exploitation of natural resources such as oil, gold, diamonds, among others.
For this reason, the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict was established. On this date, we must become aware of the importance of including the environment and natural resources within the strategies to maintain peace and also reduce the possibilities of conflict that end up affecting it.
Also read: Can renewable energy save the planet?
The UN is emphatic in stating that "there can be no lasting peace if the natural resources that sustain livelihoods and ecosystems are destroyed." In this regard, the former Secretary of the UN, Ban Ki-moon, said that "strengthening the governance of natural resources and better surveillance in States affected by conflicts can help to prevent resources from being a contributing factor”.
The environment and natural resources are a trigger for conflicts to erupt. For this reason, it is essential to establish effective mechanisms that can combat inequalities in these terms. Thus, as Ban Ki-moon affirms for ECLAC, "the strengthening of the governance of natural resources and better surveillance in the States affected by conflicts can help to prevent resources from being a contributing factor to conflicts".
Governments must start by establishing functional public policies to reduce legal gaps in the management of natural resources. Additionally, it must create effective mechanisms to prevent conflicts. Similarly, if nations are already in armed conflicts, as in the case of Syria, it is essential that chemical weapons are not used, considering these end up affecting the civilian population and the environment.
On the part of the citizens, and although it sounds reiterative, we must take care of our resources, make proper use of them and promote governmental initiatives that promote the care and protection of the environmental resources of the countries.
Do not forget that in wars there are always victims and one of the quietest, but most important is the environment. Without the resources environment offers us, we cannot guarantee its existence even if it has won wars and emerged victorious in different armed conflicts.
LatinAmerican Post | Marcela Peñaloza
Translated from "Día internacional para la prevención de la explotación del medio ambiente en la guerra"
Listen this article