By Marc Levy
Marc Levy is deputy director of CIESIN and an Adjunct Professor at The School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) at Columbia University. His training is in political science, and he has published on environmental sustainability indicators, environment-security connections, the effectiveness of international environmental institutions, on social learning and environmental policy-making.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon drew attention to the central role that war and peace play in the quest for sustainable development. In recognition of the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict, the secretary-general issued a statement that should be required reading for everyone thinking about the next generation of international development goals. In the statement Ban said,
War and armed conflict shred the fabric of sustainable development. They expand poverty, stunt opportunity and undermine fundamental human rights. No conflict-affected country has yet achieved a single Millennium Development Goal. As we look beyond the 2015 MDG deadline, we must recognize peace and security as a critical ‘fourth dimension’ of sustainable development.
The message is also noteworthy for drawing attention to the growing research evidence and policy recommendations that effective management of environment and natural resources can play a valuable role in advancing the goal of sustainable peace.
Let’s hope that, as the international community moves forward with plans for a set of sustainable development goals, these insights are taken to heart.