This blog post was originally published by the Thomson Reuters Foundation. It is written by Janani Vivekananda and Janpeter Schilling. Globally, around 1.6 billion people depend on forests for food, water, fuel, shelter and income. Some 80 percent of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity is found in forests. At the same time, forests absorb and store significant amounts of carbon dioxide, a key greenhouse gas driving climate change.
Environmental and climatic changes have a disproportionate impact on countries affected by conflict.
We focus on building resilience to the interconnected challenges of climate change, poverty and conflict.
Environmental and climatic changes have a disproportionate impact on countries affected by conflict, interacting with factors such as poverty, political instability and social tensions.
We focus on building resilience to the interconnected challenges of climate change, poverty and conflict. We help to establish, promote and sustain peaceful communities that are able to withstand shocks and respond to change. We improve understanding of climate and security risks in vulnerable regions. We also advise local, national and international decision-makers involved in climate change, development and peacebuilding.
Our work is important because environmental and climatic changes, as well as poorly planned and uncoordinated attempts to adapt to their effects, could set back development and jeopardise the chance of sustainable peace.
Communities around the world are already experiencing more extreme weather conditions, changes to agricultural cycles, longer dry seasons and rising sea levels. This is contributing to different patterns of migration, competition for natural resources and food insecurity – trends which look set to increase over time.
Environmental and climatic changes are affecting and exacerbating the complex burdens that developing countries have to face. Their impact is felt the most by the poorest and most vulnerable in society, particularly in fragile and conflict-affected states. Here, the disruption caused by these changes combines with issues such as poor infrastructure, fragile institutions and the effects of recent armed conflict or social unrest, to create a double-headed threat to peace and stability.
Effective responses to this threat are hampered by gaps in knowledge about the social, political and security impact of such change and a lack of understanding on how to strengthen resilience to these risks and challenges. There is also weak capacity among governments and international institutions to address these issues.
The inequitable governance of natural resources can also be a major cause of unrest and conflict. Mistrust and conflict between states, government departments and local communities are a major barrier to more effective and equitable natural resource governance. Greater public participation and consultation, as well as fair allocation of resources, are vital for promoting more peaceful management of natural resources.