Social: Natural Resource Conflicts

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NATURAL RESOURCE CONFLICT MANAGEMENT AND RESOLUTION
What are natural resource conflicts and their consequences?
„h Natural resource conflicts are disagreements and disputes over access to, and control and use of, natural resources. „h These conflicts often emerge because people have different uses for resources such as forests, water, pastures and land, or want to manage them in different ways. „h Disagreements also arise when these interests and needs are incompatible, or when the priorities of some user groups are not considered in policies, programs and projects. „h Such conflicts of interest are an inevitable feature of all societies. „h In recent years, the scope and magnitude of natural resource conflicts have increased and intensified. „h These conflicts, if not addressed, can escalate into violence, cause environmental degradation, disrupt projects and undermine livelihoods. „h Acknowledging that conflict is a common feature of any resource use system is a prerequisite for sustainable management that is participatory and equitable. Why do conflicts arise?

„h Natural resource conflicts have always been with us, due in part to the multiple and competing demands on resources. „h Conflicts can arise if user groups are excluded from participating in natural resource management. „h They also occur if there are:

1. Contradictions between local and introduced management systems; 2. Misunderstandings and lack of information about policy and programme objectives; contradictions or lack of clarity in laws and policies; 3. Inequity in resource distribution;or poor policy and programme implementation. 4. Conflict will always exist to some degree in every community, but it can often be managed and resolved. How do conflicts manifest themselves?

„h The form and intensity of conflicts vary widely by place, and over time within any community. „h Conflicts manifest themselves in many ways, ranging from breaking rules to acts of sabotage and violence. 2

„h Sometimes conflicts remain hidden or latent.
„h People may allow grievances to smoulder because of fear, distrust, peer pressure, financial constraints, exclusion from certain conflict resolution procedures, or for strategic reasons. „h Some societies encourage their members to avoid public confrontations; a lack of public disputes does not mean there is no conflict. Who are the different actors?

„h Natural resource conflicts occur at various levels and involve a variety of actors. „h They range from conflicts among local men and women over the use of trees, to conflicts among neighboring communities disputing control over woodland, to villages, community-based organizations, domestic and multinational businesses, governments, international development agencies and ngos in conflict over the use and management of large forest tracts. „h Most conflicts are characterized by the presence of multiple stakeholders who themselves may have subgroups with varying interests. How do different groups deal with natural resource conflicts? „h The ways in which people (even those from the same community) respond to natural resource conflicts vary considerably. „h All communities have their own ways of handling conflicts. these mechanisms may be formal or informal, violent or peaceful, equitable or not. „h Although the specific strategies may vary, people generally rely on the same basic procedural modes to handle conflicts: avoidance, coercion, negotiation, mediation, arbitration and adjudication. „h People involved in natural resource conflicts take courses of action based on their preferences, their understanding of their options, their perceived likelihood for success and their relationship with an opponent. „h Not all people have equal access to all options ¡V gender, class, age and other factors may restrict the options of certain groups and individuals. „h Seasonality, through its influence on labour patterns and income flow, can affect the ability of people to act. „h Finally,...
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