Post-war environmental peacebuilding

Navigating renewable and non-renewable resources

Authored by: Erika Weinthal , McKenzie Johnson

Routledge Handbook of Environmental Conflict and Peacebuilding

Print publication date:  April  2018
Online publication date:  April  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138202528
eBook ISBN: 9781315473772
Adobe ISBN:


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Since the 1990s, the environmental security and peacebuilding community has sought to understand the mechanisms by which the environment can produce conflict and foster peace and security. The early literature on environmental security largely emphasized the conflict-producing aspects of the relationship between environmental degradation and violence (e.g., Homer-Dixon 1994; Baechler and Spillmann 1996; Diehl and Gleditsch 2001). 1 To the international relations specialist broadly, the lack of attention to the environment as a mechanism for building peace and/or fostering cooperation stemmed from the widespread skepticism about the environment’s ability to help resolve some of the most difficult internal and interstate conflicts. Drawing upon the Middle East experience, the prevailing assumption was that cooperation over low politics (i.e., the environment or economic issues) was unlikely to bring about cooperation over high politics (i.e., security and political conflict). In particular, Miriam Lowi (1993) eloquently argued that in the absence of resolving the larger political conflict between Israel and its Arab neighbors, it was unlikely that the parties to the conflict would be able to settle their water-sharing disputes over the Jordan River basin. In short, the environment (in this case, water) was unlikely to be the spark to bring about peace.

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