Natural Resources and Conflicts

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Natural resources and conflicts

Environment and natural resources can play a role in the onset, duration, and termination of conflicts. Conflicts are not only caused by environmental factors; however, they can play a key role in the dynamics of conflicts.

This role is complex and has an impact only in combination with other socio-economic factors. Generally speaking, it is the lack of vital goods (such as food) or the availability of valuable goods (such as diamonds, gold, etc.) coupled with poor economic conditions and weak constraints (state, foreign countries, etc.) that could contribute to (violent) conflicts.

Starting from this theoretical framework, it appears that conflicts have a certain dynamic. In other words, conflicts, where environmental factors play a role, are preceded by key events. The presence of a certain pattern of sequencing events opens the possibility of developing “conflict early warning systems”.


6 pilot services are developed in the domain of Natural Resources and Conflicts:


The three service chains Exploitation of Natural Resources, Land Degradation and Population Pressure are designed to support the analysis of conflicts using EO data for situation monitoring and flashpoint identification. They provide conflict-related geo-spatial information for those countries which are either at risk of armed conflict or which are experiencing current and ongoing conflicts, utilising refined geographical and thematic information related to conflicts at sub-national level. The core information for these services is land use and land cover change.

The service chains Illegal Mining, Illegal Timber Logging and Illicit Crops deal with the identification and characterisation of potential illegal activities, in relation to their role in the development of conflict.  


Example: Illegal Mining in Mumba-Bibatama

The below is a Potential Mining Map of the study area of Mumba-Bibatama in North Kivu, eastern DRC. Potential mining sites are highlighted in orange.