While the links between natural resources, conflict and peace are well understood within the academic community, the UN system has been slow to respond to the risks and opportunities in a comprehensive way. A combination of geo-political interests, sovereignty concerns, and other diplomatic barriers have largely undermined reforms across the UN and prevented a coherent response at the field level. However, with the appointment of the new Secretary General and his emphasis on conflict prevention, the UN is changing its perspectives on the environment, conflict and peacebuilding.
David Jensen, Head of the Environmental Cooperation for Peacebuilding (ECP) Initiative at the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), has been working on this topic within the UN system for the last decade and will share lessons learned and personal insights on progress, disappointments and the challenges that lie ahead.
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About the speaker
David Jensen is the Head of the Environmental Cooperation for Peacebuilding (ECP) Initiative at the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
The focus of his work is to help member states and UN agencies address conflict risks and peacebuilding opportunities from renewable and non-renewable natural resources. Since the ECP programme was launched in 2008, David has worked with all of the key peace and security actors of the UN, including the peacebuilding (PBC/PBSO), peacekeeping (DPKO/DFS), and mediation (DPA) communities, as well as UN country teams, Resident Coordinators and Special Representatives of the Secretary General.
David’s programme has worked with a range of partners to produce a knowledge base of 150 case studies on natural resources and peacebuilding organized in six thematic books. This material covers 60 conflict-affected countries and 12 natural resource categories. The cases can be freely downloaded from www.environmentalpeacebuilding.org. David has also worked in close collaboration with the World Bank to use the extractive industry value chain as a framework for conflict prevention. He is presently co-managing a joint partnership between UN Environment and the World Bank on Mapping and Assessing the Performance of eXtractive industries: www.mapx.org. David’s work on natural resources and peacebuilding was featured in a TEDx event hosted in Geneva: https://youtu.be/-csxGMxyqxw.
David’s recent publications include a new UN guide on mediating natural resource conflicts, as well as a book of case studies on Assessing and Restoring Natural Resources in Post-Conflict Peacebuilding. He is also leading the development of a new Massive Open Online Course on Environmental Security and Sustaining Peace. All of the ECP publications are available here:
David holds an MSc in Biology from Oxford University (UK) and an undergraduate degree in Geography from the University of Victoria (Canada). He is an Alumnus of the Peace Mediation Platform (Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs) and a Beahrs’ Environmental Leadership Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley.