Map of the world with countries highlighted in different colours

Global Chaos Map Project

In a world where natural resources such as food, fuel and water are less accessible for millions of people, the potential for violent social unrest is ever present. The Global Chaos Map Project gives us valuable insights into patterns of unrest and global trends. Project outputs include an interactive map (under development) and a freely available database.

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Governments, the private sector and NGOs all have a role to play in mitigating social unrest and effectively managing our natural resources. Early intervention policy and programme design, anchored in risk management and peace building, is crucial.

The Global Chaos Map Project is led by the Global Sustainability Institute at ARU. By recording past events of unrest or deaths related to access to natural resources, the project gives us valuable insights into patterns of unrest and global trends – and the factors that contribute to regions being vulnerable, now and in the future. Findings from the project support early intervention design.

Defining ‘chaos’

We use a data extraction and mapping tool to match natural resource security issues with events of violent social unrest during the period 2005–2017. These are events that result in death (including suicide) – deemed ‘chaos’.

In some cases, expert commentary pieces tell the stories behind the data, giving further insight into the dynamics of social unrest and chaos events. These are available to download for free.

By joining ‘dots’ of chaos around the world from 2005–2017, we get a holistic picture of natural resource insecurity and its effect on society. We can see where, why and how social unrest is occurring and escalating – and, ultimately, put plans in place to mediate and manage it.

Three main deliverables from the project

The aim of the project was to deliver three main assets.

  • Database of chaos – containing data points for events connected to one or more natural resource that led to at least one death. Download the database.
  • Commentaries – these pieces of writing explore more in-depth specific data points in our database. The case studies were selected for their peculiarity and interest, for instance to highlight specific dynamics related to a resource as in the case of West Bengal, or to explain the origins of an event as in the case of Egypt. You can access the commentaries below.
  • The Chaos Map – this map (under development) visualises the data points included in the main database and is aimed at displaying chaos in a visual form, that can be appreciated by non-expert public and give an intuitive, birds-eye view of conflict connected to natural resources since 2005.

All three products will be freely available to the public under a creative commons licence and are directed to a mix of different audiences such as academics, policy- and decision-makers, practitioners and interested individuals. Our hope is that people will use this wealth of information to develop new projects, to design policy and intervention, to study conflict dynamics and also just forming an opinion about these issues.