About the Factbook
What is the Factbook?
The Factbook is a knowledge platform that provides an overview of environmental conflict and cooperation from around the world. It does so by offering a select number of case studies that reflect instances of conflict, resolution and peacebuilding processes that are related to environmental change.
The Factbook seeks to help policy-makers, experts, researchers and any interested members of the public to better understand and compare the drivers behind environmental conflict and cooperation. The ultimate goal of this project is to contribute to the prevention and sustainable transformation of such conflicts using lessons learned from earlier (non-) interventions.
The Factbook was designed in conjunction with the report 'A New Climate for Peace', commissioned by the Group of Seven (G7) in 2015. It draws on the climate-fragility compound risks developed for the report, and extends the report’s case studies with additional empirical illustrations of the risks.
The Factbook, however, goes one step further: it looks at environmental changes beyond climate change, and it is designed to extend the conversations surrounding global environmental change – and its foreign policy consequences – into the future.
An open-ended project
The Factbook is designed to be ‘open-ended’, in the sense that it is continuously extending and improving the scope and quality of case studies featured, as well as the analytical tools used in examining and comparing them. As many cases, particularly their outcome and resolution processes, continue to evolve over time, the Factbook is regularly being revised and updated.
A note on the scientific debate
There are scientific disagreements about the extent to which environmental change – and climate change in particular – can be causally linked to conflict. Although this is a perfectly legitimate academic debate – particularly with respect to the question of responsibility, it can sometimes obscure the more important quest for (sustainable) conflict prevention and resolution.
A more relevant question would be how climate change tends to add pressure to some of the drivers of conflict – and how institutions at the local, national and regional levels need to be strengthened to address these risks preventively. For these reasons, these ‘intermediary’ mechanisms feature prominently in the analysis provided by the Factbook.
A note on case selection
The case studies provided in the Factbook should not be regarded as an exhaustive list of all environmental change-related conflicts, as the selection of these cases was not meant to be representative in the statistical sense. Therefore, the Factbook interactive map should not be considered as a “heat map” of environmental conflict and cooperation.
Rather, the selection of case studies was driven by various criteria, such as policy interest, representativeness of certain types of conflict, and availability of regional expertise. Regions that appear to show ‘high’ concentrations of conflict on the Factbook map are sometimes the consequence of deliberate choices, with the aim of showing the inter-linkages between different yet related conflicts.