Improving conflict management where resources are at stake
Important resources such as water, land, energy and minerals are becoming ever scarcer. This is due to population growth and rapid economic development, but also to the lack of suitable forums for conflict settlement and resource management. A report released by the Transatlantic Academy investigates this problem. It was brought to policymakers’ attention at an event co‑hosted by the Federal Foreign Office, the Transatlantic Academy and the German Advisory Council on Global Change in Berlin on 6 June.
The Transatlantic Academy’s report discusses a number of current and potential conflicts caused by the scarcity of resources. It thus focuses on water problems in the Middle East, the Nile basin and Asia, armed conflict between the Sudan and South Sudan over the use of oilfields, potential conflicts over the exploitation of Arctic oil and gas resources, and mineral extraction in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to name but a few key issues. These problems can have a devastating impact on living conditions for the local population and on the peaceful coexistence of neighbouring peoples. It is not without reason that violent disputes over resources are considered one of the biggest security risks of the 21st century.
The “Resource Nexus”
Oil production has led to conflict between the Sudan and South Sudan – and has caused environmental harm
The report identifies the “resource nexus” – i.e. interconnections between various resources – as a cause of conflict. For example, an increased demand for food can lead to greater water consumption by agriculture and ultimately to shortages of drinking water. Importantly, the authors do not believe that the scarcity of resources is in fact the main problem. Rather, it is the lack of international structures to better manage resources and settle conflicts that causes difficulties.
State Secretary Emily Haber opening the event
State Secretary Emily Haber, who gave the opening address at the event in the Federal Foreign Office, said, “It is indeed a good idea to think about multilateral forums for dialogue, confidence-building and the joint management of scarce resources.” She also referred to regional initiatives such as the Central Asia Water Initiative launched by the Federal Foreign Office.
The Report’s authors suggest that the transatlantic community take the lead on this issue and come up with proposals on how to strengthen the institutional framework. Partners on both sides of the Atlantic should ensure that other important stakeholders such as India and China are included in this process.
The Transatlantic Academy was founded in 2007 by the German Marshall Fund of the United States in cooperation with the ZEIT Foundation. These were soon joined by further partner organizations. The Academy received start‑up funding from the German Government’s Transatlantic Programme. The interdisciplinary research institute aims to develop common approaches to long-term problems for the transatlantic partners.
- The Transatlantic Academy Report “The Global Resource Nexus” PDF | 11 MB
- Transatlantic Academy website
- Opening to the Presentation of the Report „The Global Resource Nexus: The Struggles for Land, Energy, Food, Water, and Minerals“ by Secretary of State Emily Haber
Last updated 06.06.2012