Though mankind has always counted its war casualties in terms of dead and wounded soldiers and civilians, destroyed cities and livelihoods, the environment has often remained the unpublicized victim of war. Water wells have been polluted, crops torched, forests cut down, soils poisoned, and animals killed to gain military advantage.
Furthermore, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has found that over the last 60 years, at least 40 percent of all internal conflicts have been linked to the exploitation of natural resources, whether high-value resources such as timber, diamonds, gold and oil, or scarce resources such as fertile land and water. Conflicts involving natural resources have also been found to be twice as likely to relapse.
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. Six United Nations agencies and departments, coordinated by the UN Framework Team for Preventive Action , have partnered with the European Union (EU) to help countries reduce tensions over natural resource and use environmental management for peacebuilding and conflict prevention.
This documentary is an independent production, inspired by UNEP's post-conflict environmental assessment reports.
The environment remains war's "silent casualty", as sadly demonstrated by the impacts from warfare over the past half-century. The environment is damaged through all stages from production of weapons through preparations for war to combat. As a result of conflict, the environment is damaged either directly from bombs and associated destruction, or indirectly by looting and coping strategies of people, or from the decay and breakdown of institutions and lack of governance. These environmental impacts threaten human health, livelihoods and security and have real potential to undermine post-conflict peacebuilding. Since 1999, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has conducted over 20 post-conflict assessments using state-of-the-art science to determine the environmental impacts of armed conflict and to recommend appropriate ways for recovery.
Edited: S. Robin & G. Cornwell
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