Resources for Peace
The Resources for Peace Project (RFPP) explores the nexus of climate change, natural resources, conflict, and peacebuilding. A project of the Environmental Change and Security Program, RFPP showcases innovative research and best practices, summarizing and sharing policy-relevant insights with the international development community.
Water is the foundation of human society and will become even more critical as population growth, development, and climate change put pressure on already-shrinking water resources in the years ahead. But will this scarcity fuel conflict between countries with shared waters, as some have predicted, or will it create more impetus for cooperation?
While there has been much research on the effect of valuable natural resource extraction on a state’s domestic development (e.g., the “resource curse”), Wilson Center Fellow Jeff Colgan focuses on how natural resource extraction affects foreign policy. In 'Petro-Aggression: When Oil Causes War,' Colgan finds that “petrostates” – countries where revenue from oil exports exceeds 10 percent of GDP – are twice as likely to engage in inter-state conflict than non-petrostates.
The conversation around immigration and Mexico has long been tied to the United States and the prevailing economic conditions in both countries. But a new report from the Royal United Services Institute argues that as temperatures rise and precipitation patterns change over the course of the next century, climate too will increasingly become a driver of both internal and international migration in Mexico.
Which environmental issues will dominate headlines this year? A panel of veteran journalists offer their thoughts on what will be the biggest environment and energy stories in the U.S. and around the world in 2013.
Existing, planned and under construction dams in the Mekong River Basin look like domino game. Dams are but one major pressure on ecosystems in the basin, where resource provision and water management are increasing and projected to worsen over the next several decades. Many of these issues cross state borders and the data are clear: state unilateralism cannot solve transboundary problems.
Panelists from the Department of State, National Intelligence Council, Stimson Center, and National Geographic came together at the Wilson Center recently to discuss the U.S. intelligence community’s global water security assessment.
“The nontraditional security threats of tomorrow could themselves become sources of future traditional conflict if they’re not effectively addressed today,” said Mahin Karim.
Peter H. Liotta, co-author of "The Real Population Bomb: Megacities, Global Security, and the Map of the Future," was joined by Jaana Remes (McKinsey Global Institute) and Peter Engelke (Stimson Center) to discuss the geopolitical impacts of poorly managed urbanization.
The Environmental Film Festival comes to the Wilson Center to highlight the work of International Peace Park Expeditions. Join Saleem Ali, Professor of Environmental Studies, University of Vermont; Todd Walters, Founder, Executive Director, International Peace Park Expeditions and filmmaker Cory Wilson as they discuss Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park and transboundary conservation in the Central Albertine Rift Valley.
While African nations and the donor community struggle to mitigate famine in the Horn of Africa, fears are growing that drought in the Sahel will trigger a similar food crisis in West Africa by the spring of 2012.
Experts discuss new and existing research that shows how climate change could potentially contribute to armed conflict or violent social unrest.
New research on the Niger River Basin finds that the effects of climate change in the region are pervasive and that “latent conflict” between groups – though not physical violence – is common.
Peter Gleick and colleagues find that more and more regions of the world, the United States included, may be reaching the point of “peak water.” To conserve this critical resource without harming the economy or public health, individuals are looking for new techniques in sustainable water management.
The Third Pole – an area of the Himalayas and Tibetan plateau and home to the largest reserve of fresh water outside the Arctic and Antarctic – is a region familiar to both earthquakes and dam projects. This irreconcilable reality is at the center of an emerging debate, raising environmental and security concerns as regional governments scramble for clean energy resources and control over a precious water source.
Women and water are inextricably linked around the world. Responsibility for fetching and using water commonly rests – quite literally – on the shoulders of women and girls. This burden exacts a high toll across sectors, negatively impacting health, education, economy, agriculture, gender equity, and political stability.
Population Action International will screen the documentary <i>Weathering Change</i>, which follows four women from around the world - Ethiopia, Nepal, and Peru - as they struggle to care for their families in the face of increasing crop failures and water scarcity.
Few nations are more at risk from climate change’s destructive effects than Bangladesh.
Speakers explore the dynamics between water access and gender-based vulnerability in conflict-affected areas in an effort to identify what opportunities exist through water-related programming to reduce women’s vulnerability.
Aaron Wolf, Matt Zentner, and Jim Duncan identify significant gaps in institutional capacity to cope with water variability and map basins at risk for future tensions.
This symposium celebrates the development of <i>Harnessing Natural Resources for Peacebuilding: Lessons from U.S. and Japanese Assistance</i>. Several contributors discuss lessons for development and security practitioners on the roles of natural resource management in conflict and peacebuilding; lessons on conflict dynamics and power structures in post-conflict situations; and, development challenges in post-conflict natural resource management programs.
Efforts to address climate change through mitigation and adaptation often fail to include analysis of the conflict or peacebuilding potential of such actions.
This panel discussion addresses the impacts of slow-onset and rapid-onset climate-related disasters on the U.S. government's international humanitarian and disaster response systems, including both civilian and military capacity, as identified in the new Oxfam and CNA report, "An Ounce of Prevention: Preparing for the Impact of a Changing Climate on U.S. Humanitarian and Disaster Response."
The Woodrow Wilson Center's Africa Program in co-sponsorship with the Enough Project assembled a panel of experts from American, British and Congolese governments, private industry, and the non-governmental community to discuss the deplorable situation in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo involving conflict minerals and the way forward.
"Excellence in climate communication has to do with public engagement – communication that expands the portion of the public that is engaged in this issue and enhances their degree of engagement," said Edward Maibach, director of the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University, presenting the awards for excellence in climate change communication to Naomi Oreskes and the Alliance for Climate Education.
"Ultimately, whether Yemen is able to achieve its goals for social and economic development, will, to a large extent, depend on its future population growth and size," said Gary Cook, senior health advisor at the U.S. Agency for International Development, in his opening address at an all-day conference on the role of population, health, natural resources, and institutions in Yemen's political crisis.
Rye Barcott, author of <i>It Happened on the Way to War</i>, writes about his experiences as an impressionable student in Kenya, a front-line warrior in Iraq, and the journey in between. He focuses on two central themes, which he believes to be relevant to development practitioners: What he had learned on the approach to participatory development? And what are the strengths and limitations of the military to engage in capacity-building work?
Janani Vivekananda of International Alert was joined by Jeffrey Stark of the Foundation for Environmental Security and Sustainability and Cynthia Brady of USAID's Office of Conflict Management and Mitigation, to discuss the complex connections between climate change, conflict, stability, and governance.
China's soaring economy, fueled by an unyielding appetite for coal, is threatened by the country's steadily diminishing freshwater reserves.
"We cannot manage our planet if we cannot manage our forests," said William Sommers, a research professor with the Center for Climate and Society at George Mason University. Sandra Brown of Winrock International and David Cleaves, climate change advisor to the chief of the U.S. Forest Service, joined Sommers and moderator Thomas Lovejoy, professor at George Mason, to discuss the impact of climate change, carbon, and fire on the world's forests.
Climate Adaptation, Development, and Peacebuilding in Fragile States: Finding the Triple-Bottom LineMar 28, 2011
The nexus between development, peace, and climate stability were discussed by Alexander Carius, Executive Director, Adelphi Research; Dan Smith, Secretary General, International Alert; and Neil Levine, Director of the Office of Conflict Management and Mitigation at U.S. Agency for International Development. In this context, the climate issue was viewed as a risk or conflict "multiplier," with the aforementioned interlinked problems requiring interlinked solutions.
Karin M. Krchnak, Director, International Water Policy, The Nature Conservancy; Dann Sklarew, Sustainability Fellow, George Mason University; Moderator: Paulo Sotero, Director, Brazil Institute
Panelists Liza Grandia, assistant professor of international development and social change at Clark University, and Jason Bremner, director of population, health, and environment at the Population Reference Bureau, argued that meeting the needs of Latin America's rural communities is therefore key to conserving Latin America's forests.
"Collectively, the impact of humanity on the way the planet works is enormous and headed in disturbing directions," said George Mason University professor Thomas Lovejoy in January at the first in a monthly series, "Managing the Planet," led jointly by George Mason University and the Woodrow Wilson Center.
The International Reporting Project (IRP) gives "editors–the 'gatekeepers'—a chance to get out of the newsrooms and to see for themselves the importance of international affairs," said John Schidlovsky, director of IRP, at a Wilson Center event about the independent journalism organization's recent two-week trip to Liberia with 11 U.S. news editors.
Making sure markets are open, fair, and transparent is a key tenet of the Obama administration's global energy security agenda. At a January 11 Director's Forum, State Department special envoy David Goldwyn outlined the United States' plan for energy security policy.
Green Recovery and Reconstruction Training Toolkit for Humanitarian Aid: Rebuilding Stronger, Safer, Environmentally Sustainable Communities after DisastersNov 19, 2010
The "Green Recovery and Reconstruction Training Toolkit", created by the World Wildlife Fund and the American Red Cross, will help future humanitarian efforts integrate principles of environmental conservation into their disaster recovery strategies.
Shannon Beebe and Mary Kaldor discuss their new book, The Ultimate Weapon is No Weapon: Human Security and the New Rules of War and Peace, in which they argue for a broader conception of human security.
As geoengineering becomes a more politically and technologically appealing approach to addressing climate change, it is critical to heed the lessons of history and understand the limits of our control over nature, says James Fleming of Colby College at the launch of his new book.