The vital relationship between peacebuilding & our environment
Global climate change and violent conflict are deeply intertwined. As land use, water access, natural habitats, and the migration of people are altered by shifting weather patterns, communities in already fragile or conflict-affected areas face a cascade of new economic and political challenges. Meanwhile, the world’s militaries create a massive “carbon boot-print” of greenhouse gas emissions.
One of Karuna Center’s core values is that the people directly impacted by a problem should be engaged in creating the solutions. Climate change creates complex impacts in local communities, where externally imposed action plans could easily fail or do inadvertent harm. By keeping the insights of people who have lived expertise at the center, we believe it becomes possible to support resilience, strengthen cooperative systems, and create new, practical solutions.
Read our recent Op-Ed
As the U.S. struggles with devastating wildfires, floods, hurricanes, and heat waves, the impact of climate change is even more overwhelming in countries experiencing violent conflict. Climate change is compounding the economic, social, and political challenges faced by fragile states, and exacerbating existing conflicts.Read more
As a nation, the U.S. remains the second-largest producer of greenhouse gases worldwide. Both nationally and globally, the impacts of these emissions are not equal. In the U.S., pollution sources are disproportionately sited in communities of color, causing diseases including cancer, asthma, and severe COVID-19. However, efforts to address environmental harms at the national level have typically not included leadership from the most impacted communities. This means that efforts to address overall carbon emissions could inadvertently allow deadly racial disparities to continue.
In response to this tension between advocacy for carbon pricing mechanisms and environmental justice, we co-lead the Transforming the Conversation on Carbon Pricing (TCCP) project, housed at the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice. Through confidential national dialogues, advocates of carbon pricing and environmental justice activists have been learning from each other. Through these new relationships, TCCP participants have been working to include environmental justice concerns in national climate change legislation.
Strengthening resilience to climate impacts
Communities in rural Nigeria are at the center of land and resource conflicts resulting from global climate change. In the country’s north, over 350,000 hectares of land succumb to desertification each year. At times, clashes around the use of arable land are deadlier than the Boko Haram insurgency.
We work in partnership with the Nigeria-based Neem Foundation and three local community-based organizations to co-develop local peacebuilding systems, such as dialogue and Early Warning-Early Response committees, that focus on building the capacity of impacted communities. Community-led efforts are now resolving conflicts, building trust, and advocating effectively to local leaders and government.