1. Background
  2. Environment & Energy, Peacebuilding

Managing Natural Resources for Peace

Central African Republic Crisis

November 28, 2014

The Central African Republic (CAR) is a resource-rich country, endowed with mineral wealth, vast expanses of timber, fertile lands and wildlife. CAR is also trapped in cycles of violent conflict and political crises that date back to the 1990s.

Budding plant

A budding plant in Central African Republic Jean-Francois Dontaine / FAO

Poor governance, chronic insecurity and migration have led to escalating disputes over shared resources. Grievances and competition over natural resources are among the most persistent and commonly overlooked root causes of the ongoing violence.

Natural resources are the backbone of the Central African Republic’s economy and they have the potential to be its engine for recovery when managed properly. Peace can be achieved, but only if the joint goals of sustainability and shared decision-making are the focus of natural resource management.

While mismanagement of CAR’s natural resources contributed to the current conflict, effective management can set CAR on a path to recovery. As CAR seeks to emerge from a protracted cycle of violent conflict, the inclusive management of its natural resource endowments will be imperative to this transition and central to building a lasting peace. Three key priorities at the heart of sustained recovery are:

  • Establishing transparent and accountable systems to manage high-value natural resources and revenues and preventing armed groups from funding violence by smuggling minerals and poaching.
  • Jumpstarting economic recovery by promoting natural resource–related occupations and creating inclusive institutions and processes to manage shared resources, resolve disputes and establish land and resource rights.
  • Minimizing the damage to natural resources caused by emergency response efforts and integrating sustainable natural resource management into recovery efforts.