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ELI and Partners Announce Massive Open Online Course to Make Natural Resources a Source of Cooperation Rather Than Conflict

November 2017

(Washington, DC): Marking the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict, U.N. Environment and partner organizations are pleased to announce a new Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Environmental Security & Sustaining Peace. This free, eight-week course starts on March 1, 2018, but registration opens today. The trailer, also released today, offers a sneak peek at this timely and relevant course.

Between 1950 and 2000, 90% of armed conflicts occurred in countries containing biodiversity hotspots. Today, 80% of fragile states have natural resources of strategic interest to the global economy. Despite the risks that war and armed conflict pose for the environment and the role that natural resources may play in fueling or escalating armed conflicts, there are also significant opportunities. As Erik Solheim, Executive Director of U.N. Environment, noted today, environmental cooperation has the power “to drive peace and prosperity.”

Knowledge and experience regarding the important role of natural resources and the environment in post-conflict peacebuilding has grown immensely over the past two decades. Building on these experiences, U.N. Environment’s Post-Conflict and Disaster Management Branch worked with the Environmental Law Institute, Columbia University, Duke University, and the University of California, Irvine, to develop the MOOC.

Geared toward technical experts, field practitioners, and advanced university students, the course addresses three key questions:

  • How do natural resources and the environment contribute to or amplify armed conflict and violence?
  • How are natural resources and the environment impacted by war and armed conflict?
  • How can natural resources and the environment support post-conflict peacebuilding and reconstruction?


Offered on the SDG Academy platform, the MOOC synthesizes 100,000 pages of material and 225 case studies from over 60 post-conflict countries into seven hours of film—at no cost!

Join us to learn how we can make natural resources a source of cooperation, rather than conflict.


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