Environmental Peacebuilding: 2016 in Review

3 January 2017 | ELI and UNEP


2016 saw many developments in environmental peacebuilding. We are pleased to share with you some highlights from the Environmental Peacebuilding partnership and from the broader field.


Accomplishments in 2016


Through the continued partnership—with the Environmental Law Institute (ELI), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the University of Tokyo, and McGill University, and with the help of many others—we have continued consolidation of the field of environmental peacebuilding by enriching the Knowledge Platform, expanding the Community of Practice, publishing new materials, hosting events, and fostering dialogue and exchange.


Here are a few milestones from 2016:

  • The Environmental Peacebuilding Knowledge Platform (www.environmentalpeacebuilding.org/), the leading global platform on issues related to natural resources, conflict, and peacebuilding, continues to grow. This year, we added 540 Library items, 35 Announcements, 81 Events, 271 jobs, and 295 Blogs & Opinion pieces. At the end of 2016, we have almost 2,500 Library items. The platform receives 5,000 visitors a month on average, with visitors from 170 countries.
  • The Environmental Peacebuilding Community of Practice added 379 members this year. The Community is now almost 2,900 people strong, with members from 95 countries.
  • This year we celebrated three years of publishing the Environmental Peacebuilding Update, our biweekly e-newsletter highlighting recent developments relating to natural resources, conflict, and peace, with links to new publications, international news, upcoming conferences and events, and job openings. Today marks the publication of the 78th issue. 
  • In April 2016, Routledge published Governance, Natural Resources, and Post-Conflict Peacebuilding, the sixth book in the Post-Conflict Peacebuilding and Natural Resources book series produced by ELI, UNEP, McGill University, and the University of Tokyo. The chapters examine the theory, practice, and reality of post-conflict governance and natural resource management in fifty countries. As of December, all 48 chapters are now available free-of-charge on the Environmental Peacebuilding Knowledge Platform—as are the chapters of the previous five books in the series.  To date, there have been more than 80,000 downloads of the chapters in the series.
  • Our presence on social media has continued to grow. This year, we posted 630 Tweets that generated over 160,000 impressions. A growing number of people follow @EnvPeacebuild on Twitter, increasing from approximately 800 at the end of 2015 to over 1,000 at the end of 2016. The Environmental Peacebuilding Facebook page has continued to gain popularity, with now almost 400 likes. Finally, the Environmental Peacebuilding LinkedIn group grew by 25% over the past year, now totaling over 500 members.
  • UNEP, ELI, UC-Irvine, Columbia University, and Duke University are developing a massive open online course (MOOC) on environmental peacebuilding. The MOOC will provide an in-depth introduction to the multiple roles that natural resources and the environment place in the onset, escalation, resolution, and recovery from violent conflict. The MOOC is intended to be launched at the end of 2017.
  • At the 2016 International Studies Association’s annual meeting in Atlanta this year, over 10 sessions addressed issues related to environmental peacebuilding, a record number.
  • The International Law Commission (ILC) continued its consideration of protection of the environment in relation to armed conflict, including its (still ongoing) development of draft principles on the topic.
  • The fourth Al-Moumin Award and Distinguished Lecture on Environmental Peacebuilding was delivered this year by Ambassador Marie Jacobsson, who served as the ILC’s Special Rapporteur for Protection of the Environment in Relation to Armed Conflict. Her talk reflected on her experience working with the United Nations and Member States to articulate, for the first time, a suite of laws and norms protecting the environment in relation to armed conflict, including before, during, and after conflict. The annual Al-Moumin Award and Lecture recognizes leading thinkers who are shaping the field of environmental peacebuilding and is hosted by ELI, UNEP, and the School of International Service at American University.


Favorites of 2016


With over 2,500 items on the Environmental Peacebuilding Knowledge Platform, there is a lot to read. Here are some of the year’s most popular items and editor’s picks from 2016:


Top News Stories on Environmental Peacebuilding in 2016

  • Disputes over resource-rich territory in the South China Sea, including a ruling from an arbitral tribunal
  • The role of climate change in the Syrian civil war and subsequent refugees
  • The fight to take control of oil and other natural resources used by the Islamic States to finance their operations
  • Climate security
  • Regulation of conflict minerals by the United States and (forthcoming) by the European Union


Other Important New Stories

  • The decision by the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to prioritize prosecution of environmental crimes within its jurisdiction
  • Colombia’s peace agreement and reintegration of FARC rebels
  • India-Pakistan conflicts over Indus River
  • Iraq-Kurdistan oil deal


Most Popular Library Items Posted in 2016

(1)   Water and Security: Pressure Points to Watch in 2016 [Infographic] (398)

(2)   Emerging Security Threats in the Middle East: The Impact of Climate Change and Globalization (320)

(3)   Asia-Pacific Rebalance 2025: Capabilities, Presence, and Partnerships (283)

(4)   How Do Peace Agreements Treat Natural Resources? (271)

(5)   Oil Tank Fires in Libya [Photos] (270)


Editors Picks (10 selections from hundreds of noteworthy publications and other items in the Library)


Most Downloaded Chapters from the Environmental Peacebuilding Book Series in 2016

(1)   “The Risks of Depleted Uranium Contamination in Post-Conflict Countries: Findings and Lessons Learned from UNEP Field Assessments (2078)

(2)   “Bankrupting Peace Spoilers: Can Peacekeepers Curtail Belligerents’ Access to Resource Revenues?” (1030)

(3)   “Title Through Possession or Position? Respect for Housing, Land, and Property Rights in Cambodia” (980)

(4)   “Diamonds in War, Diamonds for Peace: Diamond Sector Management and Kimberlite Mining in Sierra Leone” (909)

(5)   “Post-Tsunami Aceh: Successful Peacemaking, Uncertain Peacebuilding” (903)

(6)   “Excluding Illegal Timber and Improving Forest Governance: The European Union’s Forest Law Enforcement, Governance, and Trade Initiative” (667)

(7)   “Community Water Management: Experiences from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan and Liberia” (656)

(8)   “Haiti: Lessons Learned and Way Forward in Natural Resource Management Projects” (559)

(9)   “The Abyei Territorial Dispute Between North and South Sudan: Why Has Its Resolution Proven Difficult?” (530)


Looking Forward to 2017


In the coming year, we will continue to collect, organize, and share information on environmental peacebuilding; grow the community; and acknowledge leading scholarship in the field.  We also expect to develop and launch a massive open online course (MOOC) on environmental peacebuilding.


We are exploring other opportunities, and welcome partnerships.  For further information, please contact info@environmentalpeacebuilding.org.


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