Putting peace at the centre of the ‘green recovery’ agenda

The year 2021 is a significant one for climate action, with key global stakeholders setting out intentions to accelerate global action on the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change at the UN Climate Summit (COP26). Europe’s Green Deal, the biggest in the European Commission’s history, alongside recent calls for action from the Climate Summit, has put mounting pressure on all players to put the climate emergency at the top of the agenda.

Pledges for a greener, sustainable economy were in the works before the onset of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. However, the impact and consequences of COVID-19 have motivated further calls to integrate policy interventions aimed at mitigating the impacts of shocks to the economy, while simultaneously exploring ways to build inclusive and sustainable economies. This is creating a space for green recovery commitments to be at the heart of this, as well as an opportunity to link the existing global climate agenda with green recovery strategies.

This rhetoric of a green recovery has been widely adopted by international donors, UN agencies, governments and international NGOs, where it has been interpreted in various ways and used to fit different fiscal, social or environmental goals. Notably absent from these discussions is the interaction between green recovery strategies, peace and conflict, or any concrete action plans for addressing it. This is disappointing as there is already growing recognition of the intersection between climate and conflict and its impact on diverse groups and individuals, particularly in fragile and conflict-affected states that are often the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and also most often home to the key minerals on which green technologies rely.

As the world attempts to rebuild after COVID-19 and accelerate green recovery, it is critical that these strategies promote conflict prevention and peacebuilding. A greener, environmentally sustainable and inclusive recovery can offer the twin opportunity of tackling conflict alongside building climate resilience. It can be an opportunity to encourage reforms in favour of inclusive governance, transparency and accountability that will mitigate the stresses that risk driving conflict.

It is the responsibility of policy-makers, donors, national governments, international NGOs and civil society to minimise the negative impacts of green recovery strategies on conflict and to build opportunities for peacebuilding within these. To get this right, we are proposing three considerations:

  1. Understand the interplay between recovery approaches and fragility
  2. Leverage green recovery as an opportunity to support stability and peace
  3. Put people first – build mechanisms within green recovery strategies for social accountability and inclusion of diverse groups

Read the briefing note here