Peacebuilding That Ignores the Environment Is Not Complete




Sustainability and Climate Protection, Energy and Natural Resources

By Diego Osorio

“Over the past 50 years, policymakers, researchers, and practitioners have recognized that environmental degradation and contested natural resources are part of the reason why people fight and kill each other” – this is a short shockingly clear sentence from the introduction at the beginning of the whitepaper “The Future of environmental peacebuilding”, a project of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the PeaceNexus Foundation, the Geneva Peacebuilding Platform (GPP), the Environmental Law Institute (ELI), and the Environmental Peacebuilding Association (EnPAx).

It is obvious that environmental issues are always directly related to conflicts, yet they are often not discussed enough. The whitepaper is therefore a collection of important contributions in this area. Because “once fighting stops, shared natural resources and common environmental interests can provide opportunities for, but also risks to, successful and sustainable peacebuilding.”

GDL member Diego Osorio contributed to one of these articles and published it in the volume. The article “Adaptive Peacebuilding: Improving climate-related security risk managemnet through real-time data and analysis” is about the importance of data, as the authors write: “Despite a growing number of high-level statements from the UN Security Council and heads of state, international efforts to maintain international peace and security have not sufficiently taken the effects of climate change into account. One reason for this is the insufficient availability of empirical data and analysis to drive the systemic integration of climate security risks into adaptive peacebuilding decision-making.”

So there is a need for tools “that help to generate robust, localized, and real-time data and analysis will generate the evidence-base needed to drive climate-sensitive adaptive peacebuilding”.

Using examples from Mali and the UN mission MINUSMA there, as well as Somalia UNSOM, the authors describe what climate-sensitive work can (not) look like and how rarely this is considered in the day-to-day work of international missions. But obviously the need for rapid action is recognized and international approaches such as the Climate Security Crisis Observatory (CSCO) have been created. “The CSCO aims to provide real-time, inter-disciplinary analysis to generate policy- relevant climate-related security information at the regional, national, and sub-national level”.

However, the paper also makes it clear that making quick and constructive decisions in this context is not easy, as “social and ecological systems are inseparably linked and form complex adaptive systems active across multiple spatial and temporal scales. As their dynamics are non-linear and emergent, their future behaviour is inherently uncertain.”

That means, “the best way to cope with this complexity is to experiment and continuously adapt to incorporate the feedback and knowledge generated from that experimentation.”

Which factors are important for the authors for adaptive peacebuilding, you could read in more detail in the paper itself.


About the author:

Diego Osorio is a Senior Advisor on Climate Security at the Dept of Global Affairs Canada. He is a Canadian diplomat with many years of experience in public administration and international experience covering the UN, NATO, the World Bank, Canadian diplomacy, and private sector ventures. His previous positions included Senior Peacekeeping Officer and Senior Advisor on Mediation, Negotiation and Peace processes at Global Affairs Canada. Find Diego’s LinkedIn profile here.

Published on May 12, 2022.

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