The use of the phrase ‘resource wars’ covers an ever-widening list of categories that range from minerals and oil to rhino horn, timber and much more; anchored around this milieu are phrases like ‘natural security’ and ‘environmental security’.
While this proliferation has splintered the identity of the phrase ‘resource wars’, the more worrying impact is that it has allowed governments to ignore pressing problems related to biodiversity and the environment because the solutions are deemed too complex, time-consuming, and expensive with indeterminate outcomes.
However, failing to address these problems not only increases the risk of conflict but also leads to a lack of trust in governments with the result that they risk being seen as ‘the enemy of the people’. A first step to avoid this negative spiral should be to rethink the phrase ‘resource wars’.
A call for a re-think about old methodologies and concepts as well as new ones such as ‘environmental confrontations’ is outlined in an article ‘Resources wars: search for a new definition’ in the latest issue of International Affairs. Jasper Humphreys