Handbook of Global Environmental Politics, Second Edition
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Handbook of Global Environmental Politics, Second Edition

Edited by Peter Dauvergne

The second edition of this Handbook contains more than 30 new and original articles as well as six essential updates by leading scholars of global environmental politics. This landmark book maps the latest theoretical and empirical research in this energetic and growing field. Captured here are the pioneering and lively debates over concerns for the health of the planet and how they might best be addressed.
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Chapter 9: Environment, Conflict, and Peacebuilding

Richard Matthew


Richard Matthew This chapter presents an overview of linkages among environmental change, violent conflict, and peacebuilding. I conclude that in many war-torn parts of the world, integrating natural resource management and climate change adaptation into peacebuilding processes would contribute to state and civil society capacity building, and also to the long-term prospects for social stability and development. The failure to do so, which has been the norm for the past two decades, may have been a factor in those cases in which peacebuilding fails and the state experiences a relapse into violent conflict. Since 1992, this has occurred approximately 50 percent of the time.1 I begin with a brief overview of research that has linked environmental change to violent conflict and state failure. I then provide a short discussion of the key elements of peacebuilding. Drawing on personal experience with peacebuilding efforts in Sierra Leone and several other countries, I conclude that it is important to integrate natural resource management and climate change adaptation into peacebuilding processes regardless of where one stands on the environment–conflict argument.2 Of course, if the latter argument is valid, then it adds a further layer of justification to the case. Environmental Change and Violent Conflict3 Attempts to link environmental change to violent conflict are part of a broader attempt to link environmental change to security affairs. This latter effort has proceeded along two trajectories. The first involves redefining the term “security.”4 The second involves demonstrating that environmental change contributes to familiar security issues...

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