“One of the shortcomings of the entire debate on natural resources, climate security, and conflict
is the question of empirical evidence,” Adelphi Research
co-director Alexander Carius
told ECSP’s Geoff Dabelko in a video interview.
The German government, UNEP, and others are investigating transboundary natural resource cooperation initiatives, also known as “environmental peacebuilding” programs. But before fully committing to the idea, they want more information. “Empirical evidence cannot be created just by outlining the usual cases that we know where it has worked,” said Carius, who indexed successful environmental peacebuilding programs in ECSP Report 12.
In some cases, empirical evidence is already available—it’s just unapparent. Conflict analytical frameworks and environmental peacebuilding protocols exist, but they “reside in different programs,” said Carius, rendering the information inaccessible. Packaging this already available information into coherent messages and delivering it to relevant agencies is “the next step,” he said.
In addition, efforts to collect new data are already underway. UN post-conflict analysis teams are combining their academic expertise with on-the-ground experiences to find not only empirical evidence, but also “usable, practical tools” that can be used by agencies at home, said Carius.
Carius sees a bright future for environmental peacemaking: “The largest potential is with the bilateral donor agencies, because they do much more practical projects on the ground,” he said. New and reformulated evidence, Carius hopes, will give environmental peacebuilding the traction it needs to take hold in bilateral aid agencies like USAID.