WHAT MOVES US

At an accelerating pace the 21st Century will continue to usher in unprecedented risk to humanity’s fundamental goal: Peace.  Global climate change, dwindling biodiversity, and fickle water resources are among the chief environmental challenges that will increasingly undermine peacebuilding efforts—from the community level to the global arena.  When resources are stable and relationships are sound, we are poised for peace. We are, however, entering an era in which our environment and uncertain resource supplies will require stronger bonds between communities and common understandings of climate risks.

This work is especially relevant to the Asia-Pacific region.  The emerging phenomenon of climate change-induced migration, for example, presents distinct challenges to sovereignty, geo-political alignments, and self-determination for millions in South and Southeast Asia and small island nations in the Western Pacific.  This phenomenon alone can upend tentative gains to build peace within oneself, with others, and in the larger community and world.  Further, the way in which climate change, positive peace, and gender intersect is also relevant and instructive.  Climate impacts disproportionately affect women and girls while girls education and family planning are critical solutions for curbing emissions.  At the same time, though often excluded from traditional peace processes, longitudinal data demonstrate the more lasting success of peace agreements when women are at the table.

The complexity, urgency, and gravity of these new problems require new innovative, equitable, and multi-sectoral ways of thinking. Given the extraordinarily complex circumstances, innovation is required to build durable solutions—as well as trust and solidarity when climate crises open opportunities.  For this to occur, however, peacebuilding principles and methods are necessary.  According to the Institute for Economics and Peace, more peaceful societies—marked by good relations with neighbors, free flow of information, and acceptance of the rights of others—suffer significantly lower loss of life resulting from natural disasters compared to their less peaceful counterparts.  Peacebuilding’s communication and problem solving methods—such as joint fact-finding and peer mediation—reduce friction by assembling those in positions that require creativity and common ground to build locally-based and culturally appropriate responses, through a keen understanding of the larger geophysical and geopolitical systems at play.

By coupling peacebuilding problem-solving methods with rigorous climate change research and resilience strategies, we will help equip decision makers at all scales with the tools needed to sustainably respond to the climate crisis, reduce social friction, and build social cohesion through locally-based and culturally-appropriate responses.