Since 2009, David has been a leader in a global effort to establish a new multidisciplinary field of environmental peacebuilding. This field aims to promote environmental and natural resource management to prevent, mitigate, resolve, and recover from conflict. It also seeks to use shared dependence on natural resources and ecosystems as a platform for cooperation and confidence building among communities and countries. David is one of the core faculty members of the Massive Open Online Course on Environmental Security and Sustaining Peace – currently the most popular course offered by the SDG Academy with over 17,000 enrollments. David is also a founding board member of the Environmental Peacebuilding Association established in 2018. He also gave a TEDx talk entitled “Natural resources and peacebuilding: is the United Nations united?”
He is the coordinator or co-author of six flagship policy reports on risks and opportunities from natural resources across the conflict life cycle. He is also a series co-editor of a six-volume set of books on post-conflict peacebuilding and natural resource management, with 150 chapters from 225 authors published by Routledge. This material covers 60 conflict-affected countries and 12 natural resource categories. The cases are open source and can be freely downloaded. David has worked with and advised all of the key peace and security institutions of the UN, including the peacebuilding, peacekeeping, and mediation communities, as well as UN country teams, Resident Coordinators and Special Representatives of the Secretary General. A summary of his publications is available here.
Since 2016, David has been pioneering efforts to identify environmental applications of frontier technologies in conflict-affected countries and fragile states, including big data, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, the internet of things, block chain, virtual reality, and citizen science. He has been advising the UN Science-Policy-Business Forum on the Environment on these topics since 2018 and was the co-author of a flagship discussion paper entitled The Case for a Digital Ecosystem for the Environment.
In order to take forward this work, David co-founded and co-directs the MapX platform that helps stakeholders map and monitor natural resources and environmental change using the best available planetary data, frontier technologies, and open source software. MapX is currently being used to power the UN Biodiversity Lab launched in July 2018 and was recently featured in the Journal of Software X. The platform was also a finalist for the UN Secretary General’s innovation award in 2018.
David holds an M.Sc. in Biology from Oxford University (UK) and an undergraduate degree in Geography from the University of Victoria (Canada). He is an Alumnus of the Peace Mediation Platform (Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs) and a Beahrs’ Environmental Leadership Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley. He was also certified as a Project Management Professional (PMP).