"Addressing the issue of the environment in the context of conflict resolution, conflict prevention, peacekeeping, [and] peacebuilding becomes ever more important because we know from everything we have learned—and are learning every day—about climate change that one thing is for certain: The world is going to be under more stress," says UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Director Achim Steiner in a short expert interview on YouTube.

Yet in another original Environmental Change and Security Program (ECSP) video, Steiner emphasizes that environmental issues do not lead inexorably to conflict. "History shows that human societies are not prone to looking for conflict but rather for conflict resolution, particularly when it comes to fundamental elements of life support systems, be it water, or be it clean air or other issues—we have seen the model of cooperation emerge."

Steiner was at the Wilson Center in March 2009 for the launch of From Conflict to Peacebuilding: The Role of Natural Resources and the Environment, a new report by UNEP's Disasters and Conflicts Programme. According to From Conflict to Peacebuilding:

  • Forty percent of intrastate conflicts within the past 60 years have been strongly linked to natural resources.
  • Such conflicts are twice as likely to relapse within the first five years of peace.
  • Less than a quarter of peace agreements for these conflicts address natural-resource issues.

Watch other short expert commentaries—on water, demographic security, climate change and security, and other issues—on ECSP's YouTube channel.