Washington, DC—Much recent research suggests that environmental degradation can catalyze violent conflict. But is the opposite also true? Can environmental cooperation foster peace?

Environmental Peacemaking, a new book from Woodrow Wilson Center Press and Johns Hopkins University Press, examines the effectiveness of environmental peacemaking through case studies in six regions: South Asia, Central Asia, the Baltic, Southern Africa, the Caucasus, and the U.S.-Mexico border. While these areas vary dramatically, Environmental Peacemaking suggests that their highly fluid security situations all create opportunities for environmental cooperation to galvanize peacemaking.

Edited by Ken Conca of the University of Maryland and Geoffrey D. Dabelko, director of the Wilson Center's Environmental Change and Security Project (ECSP), Environmental Peacemaking finds that

  • Substantial potential for environmental peacemaking exists in most regions;
  • Environmental cooperation can enhance trust, establish habits of cooperation, forge cooperative trans-societal linkages, and create shared regional norms and identities;
  • Civil society is a crucial but underutilized component to environmental peacemaking.

As Conca writes, "We may be missing powerful peacemaking opportunities in the environmental domain that extend beyond the narrow realm of ecologically-induced conflict."

"Ken Conca and Geoffrey Dabelko have put together an interesting and useful volume on the potential linkages between environmental cooperation and peace... informative and well written... should be read by scholars and policy actors interested in the potential ways environmental cooperations might promote peace rather than violence."
-Rodger A. Payne, ECSP Report

"There is clearly a need for a book on this topic. The time has come to assess the consequences of environmental institutions and the opportunities they provide for cooperation and initiative."
–Raimo Väyrynen, Professor of Government and International Studies, University of Notre Dame

Environmental Peacemaking is a product of a series of meetings sponsored by ECSP and the Harrison Program on the Future Global Agenda of the University of Maryland. For more information on purchasing Environmental Peacemaking, go to Johns Hopkins University Press.


1. The Case for Environmental Peacemaking
Ken Conca, University of Maryland

2. Environmental Cooperation and Regional Peace: Baltic Politics, Programs, and Prospects
Stacy D. VanDeveer, University of New Hampshire

3. Environmental Cooperation in South Asia
Ashok Swain, Uppsala University

4. The Promises and Pitfalls of Environmental Peacemaking in the Aral Sea Basin
Erika Weinthal, Tel Aviv University

5. Environmental Cooperation for Regional Peace and Security in Southern Africa
Larry A. Swatuk, University of the Western Cape

6. Beyond Reciprocity: Governance and Cooperation in the Caspian Sea
Douglas W. Blum, Providence College

7. Water Cooperation in the U.S.-Mexico Border Region
Pamela M. Doughman, University of Maryland

8. Conclusion: The Problems and Possibilities of Environmental Peacemaking
Ken Conca, University of Maryland, and Geoffrey D. Dabelko, Woodrow Wilson Center