This section contains publications on the relationship of environmental challenges to peacebuilding, security and conflict.


The environmental peacebuilding literature has developed in a number of different directions.

1.  The importance of transboundary management of a shared ecological system as an incentive for peaceful relations.  This can be on the agenda for formal negotiations (environmental peacemaking) but it is also an avenue for civil society mobilization.

2.  The use of a shared ecology as a framework for developing cooperative networks in a conflict zone.  These networks can be local (as in the case of the Good Water Neighbors project of Friends of the Earth Middle East) or professional (as in the case of the Arava Institute’s goal of cultivating a cadre of the future regional environmentalists.

3.  The use of shared environmental concerns as an element of post-conflict peacebuilding, as in the case of promoting eco-tourism in previously dangerous conflict zones.

United Nations Environmental Program.  policy page on “Environmental Cooperation for Peacebuilding

Matthew, Richard, Oli Brown, David Jensen.  2009. From Conflict to Peacebuilding: The Role of Natural Resources and Environment: UNEP and the International Institute for Sustainable Development.

Feil, Moira, Diana Klein and Meike Westerkamp.  2009.  Synthesis Report: Regional cooperation on environment, economy and natural resource management. How can it contribute to Peacebuilding?  Initiative for Peacebuilding.  Adelphi Report. Berlin.  Download the full report [pdf, 319 KB] here

Conca, K., & Wallace, J. (2009). “Environment and Peacebuilding in War-torn Societies: Lessons from the UN Environment Programme’s Experience with Postconflict Assessment,” Global Governance, 15, 4, pp. 485-505.

Abstract: Environmental challenges create high-stakes choices in war-tom societies. Handled well, they may create a solid foundation for peace and sustainable development; handled poorly, they risk undercutting an already tenuous peace. In this article, we identify patterns and lessons from the work of the UN Environment Programme’s Post-Conflict and Disaster Management Branch, which has conducted post conflict assessments in several war-torn societies over the past decade. PCDMB `s experience sheds considerable light on the nature of conflict-related environmental challenges, identifies possible entry points for environmental initiatives in peacebuilding, and suggests cautions about the requirements for environmental initiatives to be peacebuilding tools. We identify four themes emerging from their work: the multiple and often indirect links between violent conflict and environmental degradation; the political dimensions of environmental assessment as a confidence-building tool; resource and environmental linkages among the different segments of war-tom economies; and the environmental dimensions of reconstituting the state, regulation, and the rule of law.

Carius, Alexander; 2007; Environmental Peacebuilding: Conditions for Success, in Environmental Change and Security Program Report, Issue 12, 2006-2007, pp. 59-75. Washington DC: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

Carius, Alexander; 2007; Environmental Peacebuilding. Environmental Cooperation as an Instrument of Crisis Prevention and Peacebuilding: Conditions for Success and Constraints. ; Report commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation (BMZ). Adelphi Report 03/07. Berlin

Ali, Saleem H. ed. Peace Parks: Conservation and Conflict Resolution. Cambridge and London:  The MIT Press. 2007. (foreword by Julia Marton-Lefevre, Director General IUCN)

Conca, K., & Dabelko, G. (2002). Environmental Peacemaking. Washington, D.C.: Woodrow Wilson Center Press.   [GE 170 E576637 2002]

Abstract: This book examines environmental peacemaking through case studies in six regions: South Asia, Central Asia, the Baltic, Southern Africa, the Caucasus, and the U.S.-Mexico border. While these areas vary dramatically, Environmental Peacemaking suggests that their highly fluid security situations all create opportunities for environmental cooperation to galvanize peacemaking.


1. The Case for Environmental Peacemaking
Ken Conca, University of Maryland

2. Environmental Cooperation and Regional Peace: Baltic Politics, Programs, and Prospects
Stacy D. VanDeveer, University of New Hampshire

3. Environmental Cooperation in South Asia
Ashok Swain, Uppsala University

4. The Promises and Pitfalls of Environmental Peacemaking in the Aral Sea Basin
Erika Weinthal, Tel Aviv University

5. Environmental Cooperation for Regional Peace and Security in Southern Africa
Larry A. Swatuk, University of the Western Cape

6. Beyond Reciprocity: Governance and Cooperation in the Caspian Sea
Douglas W. Blum, Providence College

7. Water Cooperation in the U.S.-Mexico Border Region
Pamela M. Doughman, University of Maryland

8. Conclusion: The Problems and Possibilities of Environmental Peacemaking
Ken Conca, University of Maryland, and Geoffrey D. Dabelko, Woodrow Wilson Center


The literature on environment and security contains two contrasting themes: national security and human security.

The national security theme is traditional political geography: what are the implications of resource demands for defense of the nation?

The human security theme has developed from the recent effort to legitimate human needs as international concerns which trump national sovereignty.

Panyarachun, A. (2004). A more secure world: Our shared responsibility. Report on the Secretary- General’s High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change. New York: United Nations,

Page, E., & Redclift, M. R. (2002). Human security and the environment: International comparisons. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar.


Malmin Binningsbø, Helga, Indra de Soysa, Nils Petter Gleditsch.  2007.  “Green giant or straw man? Environmental pressure and civil conflict, 1961-99”  Population and Environment.  28:337–353.

Urdal, H. (2005). “People vs. Malthus: Population pressure, environmental degradation, and armed conflict revisited.” Journal of Peace Research 42(4), 417–434.

Ross, M. L. (2004a). “How do natural resources influence civil war? Evidence from case studies,” International Organization, 58(2), 35–67.

Ross, M. L. (2004b). “What do we know about natural resources and civil war?Journal of Peace Research, 41(3), 337–356.

Peluso, N. L., & Watts, M. (2001). Eds., Violent environments. London: Cornell University Press.

Diehl, P. F. & N. P. Gleditsch.  2001.  Eds., Environmental conflict. Boulder, CO: Westview

Homer-Dixon, T. F. (1999). Environment, scarcity, and violence. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Mohamed Suliman.  1999. ed., Ecology, Politics and Violent Conflict. New York: Zed Books.

Gleditsch, N. P. (1998). “Armed conflict and the environment: A critique of the literature.”  Journal of Peace Research, 35(3), 381–400.

Hauge, W., & Ellingsen, T. (1998). “Beyond environmental scarcity: Causal pathways to conflict,” Journal of Peace Research, 35(3), 299–317.