Tobias Ide March 2018 International Studies Review DOI10.1093/isr/viy014

The literature on environmental peacemaking claims that groups in conflict can put aside their differences and cooperate in the face of shared environmental challenges, thereby facilitating more peaceful relations between them. This study provides the first comprehensive review of the widely dispersed empirical evidence on such environment-peace links. In order to do so, it distinguishes three understandings of peace and identifies four mechanisms connecting environmental cooperation to peace. The results suggest that environmental cooperation can facilitate the absence of violence within states as well as symbolic rapprochement within and between states, although such links are strongly dependent on the presence of several contextual factors. The most relevant mechanisms connecting environmental cooperation to peace are an increase in understanding and trust and especially the build-up of institutions. By contrast, environmental peacemaking is unlikely to have an impact on substantial integration between states or groups. Based on these findings, the article offers four suggestions for future research: (i) assess the relevance of environmental cooperation vis-à-vis other (presumably less context-dependent) drivers of peacemaking, (ii) pay more attention to the mechanisms connecting environmental cooperation to peacemaking, (iii) focus on the interactions between and the different time horizons of the three understandings of peace, and (iv) study the downside of environmental peacemaking to provide a more nuanced assessment and identify further relevant contextual factors.