The imperative of conserving nature and mitigating conflict is formalised in three of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals: 14 (Life below water), 15 (Life on land), and 16 (Peace, justice and strong institutions).
The root causes of conflict do not only include political and socio-economic factors; environmental factors play a major role. The linkages between conflict and natural resource scarcity and degradation are evident, with the added dimension of rapid climate change and biodiversity loss.
According to IUCN, 40 per cent of civil wars between 1950 and 2010 were associated with natural resources. Countries with scarce availability and low productivity of natural resources, especially agricultural lands, tend to be more conflict-prone, as are those more dependent on natural resources and at greater risk of drought.
Environmental degradation, biodiversity loss, weak institutional and governance frameworks, inequalities in access to key resources such as water and food, and poverty, all serve to increase conflicts within and between countries. This further exacerbates environmental degradation, threatening the safety, security, and well-being of societies.