Environment - basis for peace and
strategy for development
Welcome to this seminar, two days
before the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to Dr. Wangari Maathai,
Kenya's deputy environment minister.
Like many others I have been deeply
inspired by Dr. Maathai. She is the first Nobel Peace Prize winner
to have used environment as a means of fighting social and
Wangari Maathai started out
nature's insurance against droughts, landslides and
Trees are at the same time
people's insurance against poverty and hunger.
Wangari Maathai ended up planting
Her Green Belt Movement has led to
empowerment and development of local communities all over Africa.
She has for many years also been a source of inspiration outside of
It was the Nobel Peace Prize 2004
that inspired the Government to hold this seminar on environment
and security in a sustainable development context.
There are many ways of building
peace. Peace and security are dynamic concepts. The choices of the
Nobel Peace Prize Committee have therefore caused lively debate on
more than one occasion.
This seminar will explore some of
the linkages between peace, development and environment.
Only by increasing our
understanding of these linkages can we make better peace policies -
better development policies - and better environmental
Only in this way can we meet what
the United Nations high-level panel calls the "new threats and
security concerns" facing the international community today.
In today's world, security means
more than securing borders from external attacks.
Today's threats to peace and
stability come from poverty, environmental pressures, population
movements, the spread of diseases and international terrorism.
Today we do not only speak of state
security. There is also human security.
This is a type of security that
puts people rather than territories at the centre.
It is a type of security that is
won with sustainable development - rather than with weapons and
If being secure also means to have
food, water, shelter, health and education - then over one billion
people do not live in security today.
Poverty eradication continues to be
the fundamental challenge of our time.
There can be no lasting development
unless we maintain environmental quality and improve degraded
On the one hand, poverty and poor
governance takes a hard toll on the environment.
Poverty has a high cost in terms of
unregulated or illegal harvesting - and uncontrolled
pollution to air, water and soils.
On the other hand, environmental
stress causes or increases poverty.
Climate change is a case in point.
Poor people that depend on nature for their survival are typically
the first victims of higher temperatures and its effects on land
Secretary General Kofi Annan has
stated that "safeguarding the environment is one of the foundations
of peace and security".
I am also glad that the United
Nations Environment Programme – UNEP - has done good work on
environment in conflict-prevention and peace building.
During our seminar we will hear
more about how the environment can be a factor in war and
In times of conflict, short-term
humanitarian needs must of course always come first.
Still, it cannot be ignored that
conflict, warfare and refugee flows also carry serious
Environment should therefore be a
key element of post-conflict
I am also convinced that resource
management projects can play a key role in post-conflict
reconciliation - and in confidence building at the local
Unfortunately, the environment can
also be a factor that causes or amplifies conflict.
A shortage of natural resources
such as safe drinking water can have dramatic consequences.
Having plenty of natural resources
might not always be a blessing either. Unless there is good
governance, resources such as oil and diamonds can enrich corrupt
leaders or rebel groups instead of lifting people out of
These challenges - whether there be
too much or too little natural resources – are most difficult to
handle in weak states with inefficient markets and inadequate human
We therefore need to build strong
societies to fight poverty, inequality, environmental degradation
and other threats to human security.
There are many roads to peace. We
must track them down and we must follow them all.
As environment minister, I am
committed to making environmental policies that are as relevant as
possible. By promoting sound environmental management, we are also
promoting lasting peace and development.
There can be no lasting peace
unless we also make peace with nature.
Dr. Wangari Maathai helped build
peace through local environment initiatives.
I welcome the Nobel Peace Prize
Committee's recognition of Dr. Wangari Maathai - and see this as a
significant milestone in our efforts for sustainable and peaceful
Thank you for your attention