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Landmines Zimbabwe

The environmental damage of war is often overlooked

November 6 marks the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict. Indeed the environment is a difficult discussion to be had when human lives are at stake, however the destruction of our planet, our soils, our oceans, our air is inextricably linked to warfare and is too often left out of the conversation. As reported by the United Nations, "Water wells have been polluted, crops torched, forests cut down, soils poisoned, and animals killed to gain military advantage."

Conflict and the environment are also linked in another way: over the past 60 years, it is said that 40 percent of domestic and international conflicts have been related to the exploitation of natural resources and land.

War is a harsh reality of our humanity, and its motives excel rational thought with blind hate and power thirst leading the way. However perhaps our joint mission to preserve the planet we inhabit could become a driving force of reason when everything else is lost to extremism.

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The good

The united nations recognises the link between healthy ecosystems and conflict

In 2009, the UN Environment and the Environmental Law Institute co-authored a seminal report, Protecting the Environment During Armed Conflict: An Inventory and Analysis of International Law. The report identified gaps and weaknesses in international laws that protect the environment during war and armed conflict and set to raise awareness of member states of the damage war has on our planet.

Following that, in 2016 when the United Nations Environment Assembly adopted resolution UNEP/EA.2/Res.15, one of the landmark achievements it reached was finally and officially recognising that healthy ecosystems help to nurture peace, while resources that are not sustainably managed are rife ground for domestic as well as international conflict. This was an important signal of the commitment of Member States to tackle the issue. Just a few months ago, on July 8, the International Law Commission adopted 28 draft legal principles in a bid to enhance protection of the environment before, during and after armed conflicts.

However as war rages on – from Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen and Boko Haram – it is crucial that the protection of both humanity and the planet it inhabits are on the table.

environment and war UNDP
Credit: UNDP
The bad

Reviving communities from the ground up through agriculture

Centralisation of power, particularly economic and political ones, is undermining the progress and well-being of societies across the globe.

While the UN has highlighted the crucial link between healthy and sustainably managed resources and the outbreak of conflict, it is also important to work with communities on a grassroots level to help spark the local preservation of the environment, starting with people's own back yard if needs be.

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) is a U.S.-based non profit organisation that works together with local communities across the U.S. to empower through ecological independence and to promote what it defines as ‘local self-reliance’.

Learn more about what ILSR does and how you can help support the work it does and help expand it beyond the United States to communities across the world.


Want to learn how to compost or empower local community businesses? ILSR can help

by Yair Oded

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance is a non profit working to empower local communities across the US to achieve economic and ecological independence.
Meanwhile around the world

The paradox of the calm before the storm in Afghanistan

by Shadi Khan Saif

An early morning truck bombing suicide attack killed at least 20 people in southern Afghanistan on Thursday, an official confirmed.
climate protest

Millions around the world take part in climate strikes

by Yair Oded

Right before the UN Summit on Climate Action in NYC, millions around the world took to the streets to demand immediate climate action from leaders.

The brewing extremism in India

by Shadi Khan Saif

India has long cherished its democratic values and moderate Islam practised by millions of its citizens across the country of over a billion people.
Abiy Ahmed

Viva global peace icon Abiy Ahmed

by Bob Koigi

For 43 year old Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, peace inspires a country’s hope and makes the world go round.
Country profile

Ethiopia is a landlocked country situated in northeastern Africa, also known as the continent's 'horn'. Bordering Eritrea, Djibouti, Somaliland and Somalia, Keny, South Sudan and Sudan, it is the most populated landlocked country in the world, with 110 million citizens.

Bar a 5-year Italian rule during Mussolini's time, Ethiopia has remained uncolonised. The nation has been a symbol of independence during Africa's colonisation.

Christianity and Islam are the two major religions in the country and the four main languages spoken are Amharic, Oromo, Tigrinya, Somali. While its current Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has been working to reduce domestic and neighbouring wars and conflicts since 2018, Ethiopia has suffered much violence and destruction under a Marxist dictatorship after the long monarchy rule Meles Zenawi was dismantled in 1991.

In 2019 the Nobel Peace Prize 2019 was awarded to Abiy Ahmed Ali "for his efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation, and in particular for his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighbouring Eritrea."

Freedom of the press however remains shaky in Ethiopia, with most media controlled by the state and internet shutdowns or obstructions of service being not uncommon.