UNEP – Natural Resources and Conflict: A Guide for Mediation Practitioners

About this project
Mediating Natural Resource Conflicts is a collaborative research project undertaken by the Policy and Mediation Division of the United Nations Department of Political Affairs (DPA/PMD) and the Environmental Cooperation for Peacebuilding initiative of the United
Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The project has also received support from Columbia University’s Center for International Conflict Resolution (CICR), the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD), and the EU-UN Partnership on Land, Natural Resources and Conflict Prevention.

This guide collects and summarizes good practices on the successful mediation of resource conflicts. It draws on the field experiences of mediators and mediation experts, specifically those with natural resource expertise. It also features lessons learned from UNEP’s work on environmental diplomacy in different conflict-affected countries, with a particular focus on how to use impartial technical knowledge to equalize stakeholder information in a mediation process.

This foundational knowledge was supplemented with the experience and insights of over thirty mediators who participated in an expert meeting in New York to share their own good practices and lessons learned on mediating natural resource conflicts. The
workshop provided an invaluable opportunity to develop and refine the ideas in this guide, and the development team is grateful for the active and generous engagement of all participants. The guide was also subject to external peer review, which greatly enhanced the quality and clarity of the content.

This guide also builds on the conflict prevention research undertaken by the aforementioned EU-UN PartnershipI as well as on the case studies and innovative practices identified within the global Knowledge Platform on Environmental Peacebuilding.II

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