This day is observed every year on November 6 as an international day. It was established on November 5, 2021 by United Nations General Assembly during Kofi Atta Annan tenure as General Secretary. After him new elected Secretary General Ban Ki-moon wrote “We must use all of the tools at our disposal, from dialogue and mediation to preventive diplomacy, to keep the unsustainable exploitation of natural resources from fueling and financing armed conflict and destabilizing the fragile foundations of peace.

Humanity has always counted war causalities in the form of wounded or dead soldiers, destroyed homes, livelihood and cities. In whole scenario, environment always remained unpublicized victim of war. Environment overall becomes polluted, water wells, crops, forests destroyed, soil become poisoned, and animal killed to feed military.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has found that in past 60 years around 40% of all conflicts linked to misuse of natural resources which includes timber, gold, diamonds and oil and other scare resource like water and land. UNEP hold great importance on ensuring environment actions are part of peace keeping and peace building strategies because there can be no durable peace which could sustain livelihood and ecosystem of people.

United Nations Environment Assembly on 27th May 2016 approved a resolution UNEP/EA.2/Res.15, which emphasis on the better and stronger ecosystem and have sustainable resources, which ultimately reduce the risk of armed conflicts and committed towards  Sustainable Development Goals listed in General Assembly resolution 70/1, entitled “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”.

It is estimated that nearly 1.5 Billion people, which is estimated 20% of World Population living in conflict affected areas and fragile states. These areas including Afghanistan, Iraq, Ukraine and Colombia led to extreme loss of natural resources. In Afghanistan deforestation is at peak as 95% forest is vanished in some areas. In 2017, toxic chemical clouds were observed in the Mousal city instate of Iraq which affected the landscape and people. major hotspots of biodiversity was found removed in Colombia and Congo which have provided space for refugees and other extremist groups.

Due to the conflicting zones, it has caused illegal logging, massive poaching, and breeding grounds for invasive species and also unregulated mining. In Congo, the population of elephants have been distributed. In Yemen and Gaza, water infrastructure including pump stations groundwater usage network and desalinations plant have badly damaged due to horrors of wars and causing environmental and public health risks.

The international community need to act urgently and actively to address these environmental issues, if these issues are ignored, we all have to face severe consequences not for ourselves but also for upcoming generations.

For the implementation of agenda 2030 Sustainable Development we need to integrate natural resources and environmental issues into planning and conflict assessment. 

There is dire need to place a mechanism for collecting, monitoring and sharing information of the potential environmental impacts and protect natural resources in armed conflicts. it is needed to show commitment towards protection of our planet from devastating  effects of war and in the times when the planet is warming up.

About the Author: Meraj is young dedicated EHS Specialist, who does research on environment and pen down the point of view about the specific problem.