MOOC on Environmental Security and Sustaining Peace

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1 Mar 2018 to 10 May 2018

UN Environment, Environmental Law Institute, the Earth Institute at Columbia University, Duke University

United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment), Environmental Law Institute, the Earth Institute at Columbia University, Duke University

Conflicts over natural resources are among the greatest challenges in 21st century geopolitics, and present serious threats to human security. At least 40 per cent of all internal armed conflicts over the past 65 years have had an important natural resource dimension. Since 1989, more than 35 major armed conflicts have been financed by revenues from conflict resources. In the coming years, extreme climate stresses are expected to double the risk of violent conflict. Despite the risks that war and armed conflict pose for the environment and the role that natural resources may play in fueling or amplifying armed conflicts, there are also significant opportunities linking the environment and peacebuilding.

UN Environment has teamed up with the Environmental Law Institute, the Earth Institute at Columbia University, Duke University, and the University of California at Irvine to develop a groundbreaking new massive open online course on Environmental Security and Sustaining Peace.



Offered on the SDG Academy platform, the course synthesizes 100,000 pages of material and 225 case studies from over 60 post-conflict countries into seven hours of dynamic video lectures.The course is based on the experiences and lessons learned of over 1,000 experts and 10 UN agencies. The course covers a range of natural resources, from extractives to land and water, as well as a range of tools and approaches from conflict and gender sensitivity to assessments, meditation and spatial planning.



This course is for:

  • Peace and security specialists that want to understand more about natural resources.
  • Natural resource experts that want to design more conflict-sensitive programs.
  • Sustainable development practitioners as well as private sector actors that need to understand how natural resources can be developed in fragile contexts with weak governance.
  • Advanced undergraduates and graduate students interested in the key concepts and practices of this growing field.

The course will launch on March 1st, 2018. The course includes eight weeks of lectures and two additional weeks for catch-up, so it will remain open until May 10th, 2018. Students can enroll anytime.

Students who successfully complete the course will receive a digital certificate of proficiency. In order to successfully complete the course, students must score an average of 70% or higher on the quizzes, all of which are multiple choice. Students who score 85% or higher will receive certificates of proficiency with distinction.

Enrollment opens on 6 November at:


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