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Environmental Security and Sustaining Peace (edX)

Natural resources and the environment as a vehicle for peace. Conflicts over natural resources and the environment are among the greatest challenges in 21st-century geopolitics. These conflicts present serious threats to human security at both the national and local levels. Natural resources and the environment can nonetheless serve as a vehicle for peace if managed in a sustainable and equitable manner.

Environmental peacebuilding has emerged as a new frontier in interdisciplinary studies. It offers a conceptual and operational framework to understand the positive peacebuilding potential of natural resources across the conflict lifecycle while mitigating potential risks.


Environmental Security and Sustaining Peace | SDG Academy on edX

This 8-week course on Environmental Security and Sustaining Peace provides an in-depth introduction to the multiple roles that natural resources and the environment play in the onset, escalation, and resolution of, and recovery from, violent conflicts. Many of the considerations and approaches in this course are also relevant to understanding and addressing social conflicts around natural resources and the environment.

This course is for:

– Peace and security specialists that want to understand more about natural resources.

– Natural resource experts that want to design more conflict-sensitive programs.

– Sustainable development practitioners – as well as private-sector actors – who need to understand how natural resources can be developed in fragile contexts with weak governance.

– Advanced undergraduates and graduate students interested in the key concepts and practices of this growing field.

What you’ll learn

– How natural resources and the environment impact conflict

– How conflict harms natural resources and the environment

– How natural resources and the environment support peacebuilding

– How you can assess and address the relationship between natural resources and conflict

Course Syllabus

Module 1: Course Overview (Week 1)

Welcome and Introduction

Evolution of Environment, Peace, and Conflict Linkages

Conceptual Framework for Environmental Peacebuilding

Case Study: Environmental Peacebuilding in Colombia

Case Study: Extractives and Peacebuilding in Aynak, Afghanistan

Module 2: Natural Resources and Conflict Causes (Weeks 2 and 3)

Introduction to Module 2

Drivers of Violent Conflict Emergence

Case Study: Diamonds and Conflict in Sierra Leone

Climate Stress, Conflict, and Peacebuilding

Case Study: Climate Change Dimensions of the Arab Spring

Governance and Resilience

Transparency and Access to Information

Conflict Sensitivity

Mediating Natural Resource Conflicts

Case Study: Land as a Conflict Driver in Sierra Leone

Wrap-up of Module 2

Module 3: Natural Resources and the Environment during Armed Conflict (Weeks 4 and 5)

Introduction to Module 3

The Importance of Natural Resources during Conflict

Environmental Impacts of Armed Conflict

Breakdown of Environmental Governance and Social Relationships

Conflict Resources and Pillage

Case Study: Blood Chocolate – Cacao and Conflict in Côte d’Ivoire

National Tools for Addressing Conflict Resources

International Law Protecting the Environment during Armed Conflict

Implementing International Law during Armed Conflict

UN Security Council Tools for Addressing Resource Conflicts

Case Study: Diamonds, Timber and Conflict in Liberia

Natural Resources in Peace Agreements

Wrap-up of Module 3

Module 4: Post-Conflict Environmental Peacebuilding (Weeks 6 and 7)

Introduction to Module 4

Environment and Natural Resources in Post-Conflict Assessments

Renewable and Nonrenewable Resources for Recovery

Natural Resources in Security and Stabilization

Restoring Livelihoods and Building Resilience

Resources as Entry Points for Dialogue and Cooperation

Case Study: Cooperation around Shared Water in the Jordan River

Rebuilding Environmental Governance

Empowering Women in Natural Resource Management and Peacebuilding

Spatial Planning and Recovery

Mitigating Environmental Impacts of Reconstruction

Coordination in Peacebuilding

Case Study: Environmental Peacebuilding through Water Management in Wadi El Ku, Sudan

Wrap-up of Module 4

Module 5: Course Wrap-up and Final Assignment (Week 8)

Course Wrap-up and Final Assessment

ENROLL IN COURSE