Climate change can manifest itself in different ways: stronger tropical droughts, extreme droughts, warmer climates and highly unpredictable rainfall patterns. All of these jeopardize the availability of food, which in turn could increase conflict over resources, which can become violent in the absence of spaces for dialogue and negotiation to transform the conflict through peaceful means. Violent conflict affects livelihoods and diminishes societies’ capacities to cope with climate change.
What he describes above is a vicious circle that often occurs in fragile and conflict-affected environments. How can we reverse this cycle?
A recently published paper, written by researchers from the Bioversity Alliance and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture, the Leibniz Center for Agricultural Landscape Research and the Humboldt University of Berlin, discussed how climate mitigation and peacebuilding can become a virtuous cycle that generates co -benefits for sustainable development.
“Action on climate change can provide co-benefits for peacebuilding when there is coordination across sectors,”
Hector Morales Muñoz, lead author of the paper published in the Journal of Peacebuilding & Development.
The authors argued for the need for the peacebuilding and environment sectors to collaborate based on understanding the relationships and overlaps between what causes violent conflict and its relationship to climate change, environmental degradation and social vulnerabilities. The recommendation follows an approach that is based on systems and co-benefits theories, both of which take into account the interconnected factors that lead to certain problems and would therefore require solutions that are at the intersection of these different factors.
Based on a systematic literature review, the author created causal loops that indicate evidence based on correlations or if there is a lag of cause and effect.
“What the paper suggests is the need to address the root causes of both conflict and climate change, particularly in rainforest countries, where these two issues are highly interconnected.”
says Dr. Augusto Castro-Nunez, co-author of the paper and leader of the Low Emission Food Systems Research Sublever at the Alliance of Bioversity-CIAT.
Morales-Muñoz and his co-authors have presented several entry points where climate action and peacebuilding can coordinate to generate shared benefits. First, efforts to maintain peace and maintain stability can promote efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enable communities to pursue sustainable livelihoods. Second, actions to promote climate action, such as zero-deforestation initiatives, which intentionally create dialogue spaces for the sustainable management of natural resources, can help promote social cohesion and thus community peace. Third, sustainable and inclusive natural resource management can promote both climate mitigation through forest conservation and peacebuilding through cooperative forest resource management. Four, sustainable land use, such as organic cocoa in agroforestry, can mean diversified sources of income and food, which can not only stop deforestation, but also promote the participation of marginalized communities in new markets, thereby contributing to the consolidation of peace in areas such as Colombia, where the drivers of deforestation and conflict have coincided in many areas.
The authors recommend conducting assessments of the causes of both conflict and environmental degradation to facilitate cooperation between conflicting parties on environmental issues. These issues may include land use change and related emissions.
The authors also called for climate action stakeholders to adopt a “do no harm” approach, conduct a contextual analysis of the conflict, support traditional conflict resolution capacities, and uphold the sovereignty of countries and the rights of communities to self-determination.
“Essentially, what is important is that climate action has a conflict-sensitive lens and peacebuilding efforts have a climate-sensitive lens. In addition, coordinating the climate and peacebuilding communities can help operationalize the humanitarian-development-peace nexus,” according to Morales-Muñoz.
Having both lenses could bring economic opportunities, promote social inclusion and ensure the preservation of the natural environment. All of these are key to enabling emerging or conflict-affected countries to pursue low-emission development, he added.
Castro-Nunez further noted how peace action can exacerbate land-use change emissions by changing land-use patterns, while climate action can be a driver of conflict by restricting access to land, water and food.
“Alternatively, actions to achieve peace can create the social and political stability needed for climate action. And climate action can ensure the consolidation of long-lasting peace.” Castro-Nunez said.
The paper entitled “Co-Benefits Through Coordination of Climate Action and Peacebuilding: A System Dynamics Model” published in the Journal of Peacebuilding & Development is supported by the CGIAR, Agrilac Resiliente and Mitigate+: Research for Low Emissions Food Systems initiatives and by project 18_III_106_COL_A_Strategii sustainable productive. This project is part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI). The Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) supports this initiative based on a decision adopted by the German Bundestag. The views expressed in this paper cannot be taken to reflect the official views of these organizations.