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Peacebuilding and Climate Change Adaptation

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Over the last twenty years, peacebuilding has evolved as an important way of promoting sustainable development in conflict-affected societies. More recently, climate change has been identified as both an immediate and a long-term threat to sustainable development, as well as a potential amplifier of conflict. This has several implications for peacebuilding. Specifically, climate change may increase the need for peacebuilding, undermine existing peacebuilding operations, and call for a shift in peacebuilding approaches and priorities. This suggests that the more systematic use of climate data is needed to inform early peacebuilding decisions that commit societies to certain longer-term development pathways, and greater emphasis should be placed on early-warning or disaster risk reduction tools and strategies. This article examines the challenge of integrating peacebuilding and climate change adaptation into a unified approach to support the transformation of post-conflict states. We begin with a discussion of the process of peacebuilding and how it has evolved since its introduction to the international lexicon in 1992. We then outline potential links between climate change and conflict. A third section defines climate change adaptation, after which we explore its areas of convergence with peacebuilding. We conclude by exploring some of the opportunities, challenges, and trade-offs related to integrating these two processes. Throughout these discussions, we illustrate our argument with examples from our own field research.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2010

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  • The St Antony's International Review (STAIR) is the only peer-reviewed journal of international affairs at the University of Oxford. Set up by graduate students of St Antony's College in 2005, the Review has carved out a distinctive niche as a cross-disciplinary outlet for research on the most pressing contemporary global issues, providing a forum in which emerging scholars can publish their work alongside established academics and policymakers. Past contributors include Robert O. Keohane, James N. Rosenau, and Alfred Stepan.
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