Institute for Environmental Security
Advancing Global Environmental Security through
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Environmental peacebuilding in Great Lakes region
Thesis suggests: Natural resources can be a source of violence, but also a source of peace.
18 July 2005
?Natural resources: source of peace, source of violence? is the title of the MA thesis written by Eric van de Giessen for the Centre for Conflict Studies, University of Utrecht, The Netherlands. It elaborates on the academic debate on environmental cooperation and peacebuilding.
A central element in this study explaining the crisis in the Great Lakes region is environmental security; the loss of livelihood and demographic pressure strongly stimulate young men to join armed groups. On the other hand, the thesis suggests that natural resources can also be a key element in overcoming instability here. At the regional level transboundary environmental cooperation, through establishing transboundary protected areas, is expected to generate economic development and more political stability, through confidence building and strengthening transnational civil society.
The thesis specifically looks into the transboundary Virunga-Volcanoes region, where park authorities from Rwanda, Uganda and the DRC cooperate in the management and monitoring of national parks. Although creating a ?Virunga Volcanoes Peace Park? could certainly be useful from a perspective of conflict transformation, there seem to be many constraints, mainly caused by the current instable political and security situation in eastern DRC and the continuing poor diplomatic relations between the countries.