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The Nature of Conflict and Peace: The links between environment, security and peace and their importance for the United Nations

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A new report by WWF and adelphi looks at the complex nexus between nature and security. The report outlines four pathways through which environmental degradation and biodiversity loss act as drivers of insecurity and exacerbate conflict situations, besides advancing further environmental degradation. The report also provides recommendations for organs, programmes, funds, specialised agencies and bodies of the UN system to act as starting points and possible next steps to work towards a comprehensive environmental security agenda.

The report seeks to complement the climate-security nexus by addressing environmental risks to security that are not (primarily) related to climate change. Hence, the nature-security nexus puts biodiversity and ecosystems rather than climate change at its centre. This perspective allows for assessing the whole breadth of interactions between environment, peace and security

The nature-security nexus: key pathways

Four main pathways form the nature-security nexus. These pathways spell out the different ways in which environmental degradation and biodiversity loss interact with conflict, insecurity and peace:

  1. Ecosystem and biodiversity loss, livelihood insecurity and political instability
  2. The environment, conflict financing and organised crime
  3. Competition and conflicts around natural resources
  4. The impacts of war and conflict on the environment

The scale of the environmental crisis and its critical importance in driving insecurity make it imperative that the UN system recognises and acts more comprehensively on this overarching challenge. The report lays out recommendations that outline critical starting points and possible next steps for UN organs, programmes, funds, specialised agencies and bodies to work towards a comprehensive environmental security agenda.