President Ali Bongo Ondimba, one of very few heads of state to attend the Climate and Resource Security Dialogue for the 21st Century talks, joined Ed Davey, the British Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, in warning delegates that the growing demand for resources, combined with the effects of climate change, could spell bad news for world peace.
Water wars of the future
Climate talks in London in March gave Gabon the opportunity to offer a stark warning to the world that dwindling natural resources could lead to conflict in the coming years.
“The resources that we will be fighting over in the future won’t be oil, gold and diamonds; future wars will be fought over water, food and land,” President Bongo told delegates at Lancaster House. Davey said that he feared “that climate instability drives political instability”.
It was perhaps the most chilling warning yet spoken by a head of state and will be food for thought for international climate specialists attending the Rio+20 Summit, marking two decades since the legendary Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, held in June 1992.
As Gabon prepares for Rio+20, the government continues to show its commitment to the climate cause on both a national and international level. It is restructuring Gabon’s economy ministry to become the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development, and hosted the Third African Symposium on Water, organised by Group on Earth Observation, which advocates satellite observation of the world’s water resources. This is particularly relevant for the African continent, which experiences periods of drought and flooding and has populations with little or no access to water.