Building peace around water, land and food: Policy and practice for preventing conflict
Ellie Roberts and Lynn Finnegan, Quaker United Nations Office, September 2013

Water and land are two of the key natural resources that shape billions of people’s livelihoods, food security, well-being and identity. While challenges around governing natural resources have been faced throughout history, climate change now lends an additional urgency to the need to develop appropriate policy and practice in order to prevent destructive conflict around water, land and food. This paper looks at some of the elements of peaceful and equitable natural resource management, focusing particularly on the need to strengthen peace-building skills among actors at all levels. It explores the international laws and guidelines that can help to prevent destructive conflict around water, land and food by promoting good approaches to natural resource management. It further presents initiatives that have implemented such approaches, drawing lessons from their experiences. Some of the case studies presented consider the strengths of community protocols that, especially when supported by national policy, can be used to ensure equitable management of plant genetic resources and provide a mechanism for managing conflicts constructively. Among the lessons learned, it is noted that an inclusive approach to natural resource management requires capacity building at various levels, with the consequent financial and time investment that this implies; ongoing efforts to bring in excluded groups are essential for food policy and practice around natural resources; while raising awareness of legal rights and responsibilities among communities, government representatives and private sector representatives leads to more legitimate and peaceful natural resource management. National support for community articulations of customary use and ownership of natural resources can provide a basis for dialogue between groups as well as help gain national recognition of customary law and practice. An annex includes a list of the international legal instruments relevant to natural resource management and prevention of conflict. Download the paper [pdf] …