01 August 2019
  • Natural Resources
  • Conflict drivers

Resource Wars: ‘Less is More Conflict Prevention’

How could minimising material, water, and energy consumption in the EU contribute to conflict prevention? This policy brief explores unsustainable environmental footprints in relation to conflict risk — and what the EU can do about this.

Global demand for extracted materials has steeply increased since the early 20th century. The EU and the United States are the major consumers of these raw materials per capita, and thereby indirectly contribute to the likelihood and intensity of conflict, particularly in the face of climate change.

‘A significant share of the global demand that contributes to armed conflicts emanates from countries with higher levels of welfare, notably the EU countries.’

Renewable as well as non-renewable resources have the potential to spur armed conflict. Similarly, global demand for water and energy can be significant contributing factors to conflict risk. In the policy brief, it is recommended for the EU to:

  1. Embrace socioeconomic models that discourage further material, water, and energy consumption.
  2. Accelerate implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 12: ‘Responsible Consumption and Production.’
  3. Deliver on Paris climate agreement; net reduction in global energy demand and a drop in fossil-reliance to at least 60 percent.
  4. Develop more robust measurements for materials, water, and energy footprints.

These measures would contribute to more sustainable resource management and could, potentially, limit resource wars; conflict rooted in intense competition over materials, water, and energy.

Read the policy brief here.