Works in progress

Climate Change and Conflict – Regional Insights from South and Southeast Asia. (with Pernilla Nordqvist and Malin Mobjörk).

Recent systematic reviews have focused on studying mechanisms and identify how to test empirically under what circumstances and through what pathways climate change influences violent conflict. Yet, given a significant selection bias in existing climate change and conflict literature, most studies in these reviews focus on East and sub-Saharan Africa. Here we engage this shortcoming and probe the validity of previously identified mechanisms to assess their explanatory power in different geographical, social and political contexts. We focus on South and Southeast Asia, two regions highly vulnerable to climate change and violent conflicts. Our results show that the logic of all mechanisms identified in previous studies is indeed valid. However, this systematic review identifies in particular different climate events, as well as different social and political dynamics that affect less salient forms of violence. The cases show especially new insight on the role of the agency of insurgent groups in responding and coping to climate change and how this affects the dynamics of violence.

The Determinants of Environmental Peacebuilding – Connecting Environmental Cooperation to Sustaining Peace.

For international and domestic actors, post-conflict peacebuilding constitutes one of the most difficult policy arenas to understand and operate in. In this context, the role of environmental and climate change has received only limited attention, as researchers focus mostly on the risk of conflict, rather than the possible ecological foundations for a socially, economically, and politically resilient peace. The existing research in this field has so far not led to a cohesive theoretical understanding of the pathways by which climate action, i.e. strategies addressing climate change through adaptation or mitigation, would facilitate peace. In this paper, I explore the wider benefits of climate action and discuss how they potentially reduce political fragility in affected countries and help build peace. Guided by an interest in what works, the paper outlines three mechanisms that are expected to explain why climate adaptation measures in post-conflict contexts would have a positive effect on peace: the contact hypothesis (i.e. facilitation of intergroup cooperation reduces bias and prejudice), diffusion of transnational norms (i.e. introduction of environmental norms supports human empowerment and strengthens civil society), and state service-provision (provision of access to resources addresses instrumental needs of communities, thereby strengthening the belief in the state). This paper offers a timely revision of the current research agenda on climate change and conflict, as it is guided by an interest in the opportunities for climate action to support peacebuilding processes in post-conflict countries.

Civil War and the Environment (with Joakim Kreutz).

Civil wars are strong anthropogenic stressors for socio-political systems. Moreover, civil wars have substantial direct and indirect effects on ecological systems. Renewable resources such as water, fish stocks, land, and biodiversity can be especially, negatively affected by civil war. This has significant implications for conflict-affected states. Yet, whereas effects of civil wars on socio-economic development and economic performance are well studied, no comparative study to date explicitly analyzed the comprehensive impact of civil wars on the environment across a large set of states. Our research addresses this gap. Initial results indicate that civil war negatively impacts the environment of impacted states, and equally environmental health and ecosystems vitality. In particular, our analysis shows that democracies are especially affected by civil wars, suffering the strongest negative impacts on the environment. This result is the first rigorous, systematic and comprehensive demonstration of the detrimental impact that civil war has on the environment. It exposes the critical environmental challenges of fragile and conflict-affected states – a finding that has important implications for post-conflict peacebuilding, reconstruction, and institutional capacity building.

Actors in Environmental Peacebuilding: A case study of ownership frames in the UNEP’s environmental peacebuilding policy framework

In contrast to international peacebuilding interventions, global environmental governance is characterized by the inclusiveness of international and domestic non-state actors. Consequently, it may be expected that the UNEP policy framework on environmental peacebuilding would promote a strong for of non-state actors. This article examines the roles of various actors in this policy framework. It analyzes policy frames pertinent to questions of ownership that are embedded in key UNEP reports on environmental peacebuilding. I consider ownership here as an indicator of which actors design, manage and implement environmental peacebuilding policies. The findings suggest that UNEP, which I consider an international state actor, prefers international ownership (as opposed to domestic state or domestic non-state ownership) in their strategy for the sustainable management of natural resources in post-war settings. However, contrary to expectations, the reports showed a notable absence of international non-state actors. This is surprising in light of the global environmental governance discourse, which stresses the importance of involving international non-state in environmental governance. This article discusses characteristics of the reports that may explain the absence in this framework of international non-state actors, as well as domestic state and domestic non-state actors.

Environmental Peacebuilding.

Book chapter in preparation for The Oxford Handbook of Peacebuilding, Statebuilding, and Peace Formation edited by Oliver P. Richmond and Dr Gëzim Visoka. Oxford University Press. (with Ashok Swain).