Africa: Protecting Nature Can Lower Risk of Armed Conflict, Says Conservation Body

Toronto — Pressure on natural resources is fuelling tensions in places like Lake Chad, a new report, but there has been less violence within the boundaries of protected areas

Protecting and restoring nature can reduce the risk of armed conflict around the world, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) said on Wednesday.

Over the last 30 years, countries have been more prone to conflict when natural resources like agricultural land and water become scarce or degraded, such as in areas where droughts are frequent, said a report released by the organisation, which brings together governments, green groups and scientists.

It comes as a coalition of countries pushes to conserve global biodiversity by protecting at least 30% of land and oceans by 2030, ahead of a key United Nations conference in Kunming, China, set to take place in October.

“This report provides added evidence on the multiple benefits that societies gain from conserving nature,” said Juha Siikamäki, IUCN’s chief economist.

“Not only would we be improving the condition of nature and natural resources, we would also improve the livelihoods and wellbeing of people dependent on those resources,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The report found that conflicts are less frequent within the boundaries of protected natural areas, which account for an estimated 15% of land but overlap with only 3% of the more than 85,000 conflicts analysed from the past three decades.