Climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts face many obstacles in fragile and conflict-affected societies. Instead of writing off these situations, however, International Alert’s Janani Vivekananda, Janpeter Schilling, and Dan Smith suggest approaching aid and development differently to proactively build resilience and simultaneously advance climate, development, and peacebuilding goals.
The interlinked challenges of climate change, poverty, and conflict legacies are recognized by academic and practitioner communities. But too often the focus has been limited to unpacking causal connections between climate change and the outbreak of violent conflict. While this emphasis garners significant attention (and much academic infighting), it largely fails to engage on the practical questions of how to respond effectively to climate change and poverty in conflict-affected states.
The concept of resilience, Vivekananda et al. write, is critically important in this context, as it connects disparate government and development efforts in service of society as a whole. Understanding the “intermediate” factors that already make a society vulnerable to conflict – poor governance, geopolitics, poverty, inequality – is vital to creating positive development, adaptation, and peacebuilding policies.
Context Is Everything
Understanding the local variation of societies, the “contextual complexities,” should be the first step for any resilience-building operation, the authors write. Local and national-level dynamics need to be considered in tandem to understand how changes in one place might affect elsewhere.
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