Using Natural Resources Management as a Peacebuilding Tool : Observations and Lessons from Central Western Mindanao
The conflict in Mindanao, Philippines, is widely presented as a religious one, often within a wider Southeast Asian context. Yet many of the underlying disputes and tensions are the result of local issues revolving around ownership, use and access to land and natural resources and the resultant impact upon livelihoods. At the local level in Mindanao peacebuilding activities need to address these livelihood issues. A number of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the area already have separate peacebuilding and natural resource management activities, yet they seem unable to link the two, both within their programmes and at a conceptual level. This paper argues that at the practical level these management activities have the potential, when used together, to reduce communal conflict and address basic human needs. The paper is based primarily on interviews with local NGO practitioners, and though not exhaustive, it provides a number of interesting lessons that have significance beyond Mindanao.