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the environmental impact of war

When we think of the destruction caused by war, we of course first and foremost think about the lives that have been lost; the infrastructure that was turned to rubble – the sheer destruction of communities, neighbourhoods and livelihoods. But one crucial part of our lives that endures immense impact during war is the environment.

November 6 marks the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict. The day was first announced in 2001 by the United Nations as a means to draw attention to the environmental crisis that is brought on by war, but also most importantly, how a destroyed local environment that isn't restored and revived could be the very reason for the struggle of some nations and areas to come out of civil war.

So much so are war and the environment tied together that in 2016, the UN Environment Assembly officially recognised the role of healthy ecosystems and sustainably managed resources in reducing the risk of armed conflict, and reaffirmed its strong commitment to the full implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals listed in General Assembly resolution 70/1, entitled “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”.

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The good

Efforts to create a blueprint for environmental recovery post-war are growing

It has been 19 years since the declaration of International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict, and since then the UN, as well as other organisations and initiatives the world over are working to set in place actionable ways in which communities and countries can best recover their environment in the aftermath of war.

As declared on the international day's website, "The United Nations attaches great importance to ensuring that action on the environment is part of conflict prevention, peacekeeping and peacebuilding strategies, because there can be no durable peace if the natural resources that sustain livelihoods and ecosystems are destroyed."

One such initiative is the result of a collaboration between The Environmental Law Institute (ELI), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the Universities of Tokyo and McGill. The bodies came together to start a global research programme, set to put together lessons learned and good practices on managing natural resources during post-conflict peacebuilding. As stated by the UN, "This four-year research project has yielded more than 150 peer-reviewed case studies by over 230 scholars, practitioners and decision-makers from 55 countries. This represents the most significant collection to date of experiences, analyses and lessons in managing natural resources to support post-conflict peacebuilding."

Find out more about the connection between climate change and conflict, click the image below.

The bad

those speaking out against environmental destruction are disappearing...

As environmental issues come to the forefront across the world, more and more people are coming together to speak out against governmental and foreign destruction of local ecosystems. As reported by FairPlanet, in the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte has been on a violent campaign to convert large swathes of land in Northern Mindanao into industrial plantations. The indigenous leader of the Manobo tribe that lives in the area, Datu Kaylo Bontolan, has been opposed to the plan that involves commercial mining and large scale logging of the zone and has been documenting the suffering and violence being meted on his people. He was killed in an aerial bombardment carried out by the military.

Two investigative journalists who were arbitrating a long-standing land dispute between residents and a palm oil company in Batu District of Indonesia were found brutally murdered in what authorities said was a case of stabbing.

In Iran six conservationists involved in protecting the Asiatic cheetah were charged and convicted of spying with the government accusing them of working with USA which it deems an enemy state.

“If we want to end climate breakdown, then it is in the footsteps of land and environmental defenders we must follow. We must listen to their demands and amplify them. Inspired by their bravery and leadership, we must push those in power – businesses, financiers and governments – to tackle the root causes of the problem, support and protect defenders and create regulations that ensure projects and operations are carried out with proper due diligence, transparency and free prior and informed consent,” the Global Witness report said.

Continue reading the story, click below:

climate activists

Growing alarm over rising deaths of environment and land activists

by Bob Koigi

As climate change takes a toll on global economies, competition for limited land from corporates in mining and extractive industries become vicious and the world experiences unprecedented wanton destruction of forests and other natural resources, ordinary citizens among them activists, journalists and community leaders are standing up to these atrocities against nature and have paid the ultimate price.
Our coverage on the issue

Food Insecure Zimbabwe Pins Hopes on New Farming Method

by Cyril Zenda

The perennially hungry southern African nation is hopeful that in the new conservation farming method targeting rural farmers, it has found the necessary silver bullet to defeat starvation.

Rationalising green trends versus dictating environmentalism in Afghanistan

by Shadi Khan Saif

Kabul, once a city known for its scenic views of lush valleys and snow-capped mountains has been reduced by decades of war to a polluted metropolis.

The resilience of sustainability to fight poverty

by Ellen Nemitz

"If we take care of nature, nature will take care of us," Sir David Attenborough.
Country focus

Made up of more than 7,000 island, the Philippines has a population of 104 million citizens, who mostly occupy just 11 of those islands. Situated within the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean, the country's religion is majority Christian and its official languages are Filipino and English.

Once a Spanish colony, that was then taken over by US forces in the early part of the 20th century, the country still holds strong influences from its past, especially in terms of language, religion and government. Self-rule in 1935 was followed by full independence in 1946 under a US-style constitution.

Sitting President Rodrigo Duterte came to power in a landslide victory in June 2016 after winning over voters with promises to take on crime, drugs and corruption. Since he took office, Duterte has been accused of violent and human rights-violating tactics in his bid to 'tackle drug crime'. As reported by the BBC, "In his first year in office, he launched a controversial anti-drug campaign with a call to citizens and the police to conduct extra-judicial killings of suspects; thousands are thought to have died since."

The media in the Philippines boasts freedom of reporting as well as a thriving scene of thousands of independent radio stations. However, the Philippines is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists currently.