18 September 2017 - 20 September 2017
New York, USA

The dynamic relationship between natural resources and social conflict

Alison Heslin will discuss the links between resources and conflicts at the International Conference on Sustainable Development.

Working oil pumps © Kokhanchikov/shutterstock

Working oil pumps © Kokhanchikov/shutterstock

In 2013 a meeting was held in Dakar, Senegal, to find solutions to the complex challenges of sustainable development. Participants felt that a larger conference was needed to bring others into the dialogue, and thus in an auditorium at Université Cheikh Anta Diop, it was decided that the Global Association of Master’s in Development Practice programs would partner with the Sustainable Development Solutions Network to launch the first International Conference on Sustainable Development (ICSD). Since 2013 it was organized annually. ICSD brings together professionals from the private sector, academia, government, and civil society, along with students from the world’s top universities. 

IIASA researcher Alison Heslin will give a presentation entitled "Blood and Soil: The Dynamic Relationship between Natural Resources and Social Conflict". 

This years conference is hosted in New York City by The Earth Institute, Columbia University, and their Center for Sustainable Development.

For registration and more information please visit the event website.


Despite increasing urbanization worldwide, human populations continue to depend heavily on the natural resources which surround them. Understanding this interaction between societies and natural resources is critical for the health and stability of a population. Strained resources due to desertification, droughts, floods, or other natural disasters can exacerbate existing tensions and inequalities existing within a community. In times of decreased access to resources, such as food, conflict can arise around issues of politics, migration, or economic inequality. This capacity of resources to bring about conflict from underlying social tensions is a crucial process to understand when concerned with the potential contribution of natural resources in peace-building efforts. As such, this study seeks to identify the links between resources and conflict while grounded in the understanding that conflict events at times of strained resources often indicate an interaction between resource access and existing social stressors.

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Last edited: 11 August 2017

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