The Role of Renewable Natural Resources and Gender in ConflictSeptember 28, 2012 By Carolyn Lamere
Devesh Kapur, Kishore Gawande, and Shanker Satyanath open their Center for Global Development working paper, “Renewable Resource Shocks and Conflict in India’s Maoist Belt,” with a crucial question: “Is there a causal relationship between shocks to renewable natural resources, such as agricultural and forest lands, and the intensity of conflict?” While the connection between the environment and conflict has been the focus of much study, Kapur et al. say that previous attempts have been plagued with “failure to address reverse causality and a failure to systematically control for alternative explanations for conflict.” Their report analyzes the relationship between the availability of resources and conflict by measuring rainfall, vegetation prevalence, and deaths due to the Maoist conflict in India. They find “a strong and substantively large relationship between adverse renewable resource shocks and the intensity of conflict,” and conclude that protecting the livelihoods of residents of the Maoist belt can help reduce violence. “Giving tribals greater access to forests and a range of forest products, whose consumption is the only available option during times of distress, can provide them with a critical self-insurance mechanism.”
In December 2011, the White House published the United States National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security.“The goal…is as simple as it is profound: to empower half the world’s population as equal partners in preventing conflict and building peace in countries threatened and affected by war, violence, and insecurity,” the authors note. Women have long been excluded from the peace process in many post-conflict settings; the plan mentions that “since 1992 women have represented fewer than three percent of mediators and eight percent of negotiators to major peace processes.” Improving women’s inclusion is crucial to “national and global security.” The report also indicates that the security of women themselves is also a major concern, as women are “deliberately targeted and attacked, often with impunity” in conflict and post-conflict areas. The report calls for increased consideration of women and gender issues in U.S. government agencies like the Department of State, U.S. Agency for International Development, Center for Disease Control, Department of Defense, and the Department of the Treasury.