Resource Wars

Renard Sexton reports from Sierra Leone:

...over 40% of civil conflicts in the 20th century had a link to natural resources, often as a contributing cause, by financing arms, or acting as a flashpoint for small-scale conflict that becomes embroiled in larger ethnic, political or economic conflict, which can spiral out of control.

In the post-conflict period, extraction of natural resources (mining, timber, firewood forestry, fishing) is often the only livelihood option for returning displaced populations. All too often, unsustainable practices become embedded as the new norm, setting up the conditions for severe resource stress in the future.

Unfortunately, natural resources and environment are often given less attention in the immediate post-conflict period than they deserve, given their importance. Hopefully this will change in the future as more emphasis is given to the issue.