Page 3 - Environment: The Silent Casualty of War
P. 3

War casualties are generally counted in
terms of the dead and wounded soldiers
and civilians, but the environment remains

the silent and unpublicized sufferer of
armed conflicts.

W“ e must use all tools at our disposal, from dialogue and mediation to preventive
diplomacy, to keep the unsustainable exploitation of natural resources from
fuelling and financing armed conflict and destabilizing the fragile foundations of
peace.”These profound words by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon aptly sum up the
urgency to prevent the exploitation of environment and natural resources during and after
wars and armed conflicts. War casualties are generally counted in terms of the dead and
wounded soldiers and civilians, destroyed cities and livelihoods, but the environment more
often than not remains the silent and unpublicized sufferer of wars and armed conflicts. In
the process, the environment has been defiled, natural resources have been exploited, and
wildlife wiped away to gain military advantage.

Our cover story brings to the fore, the fact that the world has witnessed some of the
goriest wars and armed conflicts in the last 60–70 years. Starting from the last century and
continuing till today, there are still many armed conflicts that are going on throughout the
world. Many of these have links to capturing or exploiting of valuable mining resources,
such as oil, gold, diamonds, and timber, or natural resources, such as water, soil, and fertile
land.The application of weapons and methods deployed for gaining ascendency in the past
wars has demonstrated that the armed conflicts have systematically ravaged and exploited
the environment in various countries, impacting both the livelihoods and the dignity and
quality of life of thousands of people. As we look to the future, the looming threat of the
use and the increasing proliferation of these nuclear weapons is very real—this would have
devastating consequences not only on the existence of human beings on earth but could
also be calamitous for the environment and natural resources.

Our cover story also highlights the fact that The United Nations places great importance
to ensuring that action on the environment is part of conflict prevention, peacekeeping, and
peacebuilding strategies—because there can be no durable peace if the natural resources
that sustain livelihoods and ecosystems are destroyed.The continuing vulnerability of the
environment to conflict and the importance of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda
and climate change negotiations in tackling the links between environment and conflict, is
a central tenet of the conflict resolution related activities of the United Nations Environment

The special report in this issue presents a comparative analysis between chir pine forests
and oak forests in the hilly state of Uttarakhand in India. While the question about whether
to plant chir pine trees or oak trees may be a topic of debate, what is clearly noticeable
is that from purely commercial consideration, the pine provides a range of monetizable
products, principally resin, apart from its use as timber.Therefore, what is needed is a serious
review of the situation so as to take the best decision for the long-term interest and benefit
of the local community and environment.

Ajay Mathur
Director General, TERI

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