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The missing link : environmental change, institutions, and violent conflicts

Goetschel, Laurent and Péclard, Didier. (2011) The missing link : environmental change, institutions, and violent conflicts. In: Research for sustainable development : foundations, experiences, and perspectives. Bern, S. 451-466.

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Official URL: http://edoc.unibas.ch/dok/A5849112

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Abstract

In current debates about climate change, the environment is often seen as a potential cause of violent conflicts. According to this view, environmental degradation will significantly increase the stress put on various societies, particularly in so called weak and fragile states, and thereby cause political destabilization and violence while jeopardizing national and international security. Drawing on research conducted within the NCCR North-South, this article shows that establishing such direct causal links is simplistic and reductionist. While recognizing that climate change, and especially resource scarcity, can lead to violent conflict, we argue that, when trying to understand the relationships between changes in the environment and violent conflict it is crucial to put social and human dimensions at the centre of the analysis. Climate changes may render human interaction and social regulation more difficult, but it will hardly ever directly affect the probability of violence. Climate policy will not bring peace any more than peace policy will improve the climate. In other words, the missing link in current debates about environmental conflicts is the key role played by political, social and cultural institutions in mediating between the two terms of the equation.
Faculties and Departments:04 Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Departement Gesellschaftswissenschaften > Fachbereich Politikwissenschaft > Politikwissenschaft (Goetschel)
09 Associated Institutions > swisspeace foundation > Peace Research (Goetschel)
UniBasel Contributors:Goetschel, Laurent and Péclard, Didier
Item Type:Book Section, refereed
Bibsysno:Link to catalogue
Publisher:NCCR North-South
ISBN:978-3-905835-31-1
Series Name:Perspectives / NCCR North-South
Issue Number:vol. 6
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Book item
Last Modified:03 Jul 2015 08:53
Deposited On:08 Jun 2012 06:50

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