Celebrating International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict.

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    Is it the responsibility of the world to protect and nurture the environment? How can this be made possible especially in a world where neglect of the very earth we reside is the air humans breathe? How can the world take care of it environment when the people inhabiting the world, especially in Nigeria are solely dependent on a government that cannot help itself to walk? The environment is with no doubt one of the greatest victims of conflict, the effect of which has severe impacts on the sustenance and livelihoods of human and animal already shrunken by hardships, inhumaneness and loss. The environment not only consists of humans and animals, it houses both natural resources that helps human and animal survives, it consists of earth itself on which plants and nature finds its strength. We cannot deny that Nigeria has a long way to go.

    According to the United Nations Environment Programme UNEP estimates at least 40percent of all internal conflicts have been linked to the exploitation of natural resources over the past 60 years. November 6TH is the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict. It has been a journey for the United Nations as it attaches great importance to confirming that action on the environment is a part of conflict stoppage, peacekeeping and peace building strategies. This is because there can be no lasting peace if the natural resources that weather livelihoods and bionetworks are wrecked.

    The International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict is observed every year on November 6. It was established on November 5, 2001 by the United Nations General Assembly during the late Kofi Annan’s tenure as Secretary General.

    Message from the UN Environment Executive Director, Erik Solheim to mark the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict from 

    Nearly 1.5 billion people, over 20 per cent of the world’s population, live in conflict-affected areas and fragile states.

    War and armed conflict present a risk for humanity and other forms of life on our planet. Too many lives, and species, are at stake.

    Decades of ugly wars in countries such as Afghanistan, Colombia or Iraq have led to the immense loss of natural resources. In Afghanistan alone, we have witnessed astounding deforestation rates which have reached 95 per cent in some areas.

    In 2017, the Islamic State triggered vast toxic clouds by setting ablaze oil wells and a sulfur factory near the Iraqi city of Mosul, poisoning the landscape and people.

    Critical biodiversity hotspots in Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan have offered cover and refuge for rebel groups.

    This has been disastrous for wildlife and forest conservation as these habitats have opened the doors to illegal logging, unregulated mining, massive poaching and breeding grounds for invasive species.

    Elephant populations have been decimated in DR Congo and Central African Republic, while in Ukraine the Siverskyi Donets River has been further damaged by pollution from the conflict.

    In Gaza, Yemen, and elsewhere, water infrastructure, from groundwater wells to wastewater treatment plants and pumping stations to desalination plants have been damaged, posing environmental and public health risks.

    It would be a dangerous mistake to ignore these environmental consequences of conflict, and the international community needs to act with greater urgency.

    This International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict I urge you all to speak up boldly and renew your commitment to protecting our imperiled planet, even in the face of hostile armed aggression.

    Through resolutions passed at the Second and Third UN Environment Assemblies in 2016 and 2017, Member States demonstrated their recognition of the need to improve protection of the environment in times of armed conflict.

    As part of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development we also need to integrate natural resource and environmental issues into conflict assessments and planning.

    We must place transparency and better mechanisms for monitoring, collecting, sharing and assessing information on potential environmental impacts at the midpoint of our oversight and protection of natural resources in armed conflict. And we must build capacity to deploy these mechanisms, including through Massive Open Online Courses that help democratize assess to key knowledge. Last year, over 10,000 people from 170 countries enrolled in the UN-backed MOOC on Environmental Security and Sustaining Peace. We should aim to double this number in 2019.

    I urge you all to renew your commitment to jealously protect our planet from the debilitating effects of war and especially at a time our warming planet is already threatened by the impacts of runaway climate change.

    With the 2030 Agenda, and the concurrent efforts of the United Nations Environment Assembly and the International Law Commission, we have a range of important tools at our disposal to promote environmental peace building.

    The United Nations remains committed to working with governments, businesses and citizens to protect the environment before, during and after armed conflict

    “We must use all of the tools at our disposal , from dialogue and mediation to preventive diplomacy, to keep the unsustainable exploitation of natural resources from fueling and financing armed conflict and destabilizing the fragile foundations of peace” Former UN Secretary General, Ban Ki -Moon

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