by Florian Krampe | published 14 May 2014, New Security Beats. Washington DC: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s fifth assessment, which has been rolling out in stages since last September, confirms a crucial divide in current climate thinking: efforts to adapt and mitigate to climate change are often considered separately from the vulnerability of people.
Climate change impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability were covered by IPCC Working Group II, while Working Group III handled mitigation. Each group developed and released their reports separately. Why is this significant? Because in conflict and post-conflict societies, climate mitigation efforts can have significant impacts on existing tensions, sometimes even making them worse. It is therefore vitally important that policymakers understand these two sets of issues together and researchers build a better understanding of how they interact.
The Climate-Peacebuilding Nexus
Environmental issues in post-conflict societies have been paid more attention recently, as development and climate researchers and practitioners increasingly focus on the poor and vulnerable segments of society. This has been accompanied with a shift in the security community from a focus on state to human security. These changes have led to a higher profile for environmental issues in many post-conflict peacebuilding policies (e.g., Afghanistan).
While this is an important step to thinking about environmental issues and peacebuilding efforts together, research on the nexus of climate change adaptation and mitigation and their consequences for peacebuilding is almost nonexistent (an exception that looks closer at human security being the recent Wilson Center report, Backdraft: The Conflict Potential of Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation). How are our efforts to reduce the impact of climate change affecting post-conflict societies? In an attempt to add to this body of knowledge, I recently looked at the development of micro-hydropower systems in Nepal and assessed whether they contribute to building peace.
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