Decolonial and Indigenous Approaches to Environmental Peacebuilding: Special Issue of Peace Science Digest

(Reposted from: Peace Science Digest. June 2024.)

Environmental peacebuilding comprises the multiple approaches and pathways by which the management of environmental issues is integrated in and can support conflict prevention, mitigation, resolution, and recovery.

Introduction

In partnership with the Environmental Peacebuilding Association

Environmental peacebuilding emerged from the convergence of multiple fields—like political science, environmental science, peace and conflict studies, and ecology—concerned with how the natural environment shapes conditions for peace and conflict. In an era of rapidly changing environmental conditions due to climate change, it is critically important that peacebuilders better understand how environmental realities could open new opportunities for—or negatively influence—peaceful outcomes in conflict-affected contexts. At the same time, environmental scientists must also better understand the principles and strategies of peacebuilding so that their work both avoids reinforcing violence and actively contributes to peace. According to a foundational article in the field, “environmental peacebuilding comprises the multiple approaches and pathways by which the management of environmental issues is integrated in and can support conflict prevention, mitigation, resolution, and recovery.”(1) Thus, the field aims to bring together experts from multiple disciplines with the shared purpose of managing the natural environment in a way that helps build peace.

The War Prevention Initiative has a keen interest in the study and practice of environmental peacebuilding, especially as climate change poses one of the greatest existential threats to planetary life. A foreign policy and national security policy focused on addressing the greatest actual human security threats would center efforts to mitigate climate change, pursue environmental justice, and meaningfully contribute to peacebuilding worldwide. Current U.S. foreign and security policy, by contrast, continues to rely heavily on the U.S. military, which itself contributes massive carbon emissions to the atmosphere while also harming ecosystems (not to mention human life) through weapons testing, the operation of its military bases, and, of course, war-fighting. Applying an environmental lens to questions of peace and security, therefore, adds a new layer to criticism of the primacy of military solutions in U.S. foreign and security policy by shining a spotlight on both the military’s contributions to climate change and environmental destruction and its inability to address the most critical of security issues.  

If we are to conceive of a new security paradigm—one that rejects military solutions and asserts that security is achieved by addressing human needs and preserving planetary life—then we should look at alternatives to the Western/European systems of governance that have structured the global order over the past several centuries.

If we are to conceive of a new security paradigm—one that rejects military solutions and asserts that security is achieved by addressing human needs and preserving planetary life—then we should look at alternatives to the Western/European systems of governance that have structured the global order over the past several centuries. This special issue—focused on decolonial and Indigenous approaches to environmental peacebuilding—explores Indigenous (and bottom-up) perspectives on the environment, peace, and conflict in a variety of contexts. Our intention is that this special issue inspire new thought, conversations, and practices in environmental peacebuilding responsive to an awareness of power dynamics and invigorated by Indigenous knowledge and experience. We are extremely grateful for our friends at the Environmental Peacebuilding Association for collaborating with us on this special issue.

(1) Ide, T., Bruch, C., Carius, A., Conca, K., Dabelko, G. D., Matthew, R., & Weinthal, E. (2021) The past and future(s) of environmental peacebuilding. International Affairs, 91(1). doi: 10.1093/ia/iiaa177

Peace Science Digest

Peace Science Digest is a publication of the War Prevention Initiative of the Jubitz Family Foundation.

Their vision is a world beyond war where humanity is united and a global system of peace with justice prevails for current and future generations. Their mission is to transform the global peace and security paradigm to one that is built around viable alternatives to war and all forms of political violence. To achieve this they research, advocate for and advance knowledge on practices that demonstrate the effectiveness of nonviolence and challenge militarism.

Join the Campaign & help us #SpreadPeaceEd!
Please send me emails:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top