Cooperative Solutions to Mitigate Climate Crisis

The climate crisis is compounding the effects of global inequality. As these hardships increase, impacted communities could be further marginalized—at a time when their contributions are most needed.  

Frontline communities have invaluable insight into emerging, complex conflict dynamics and human rights needs—as well as the solutions that will be most sustainable in practice. In order to ensure their rights and expertise are respected, the people directly impacted by environmental injustice need to be seated at the decision-making table.

Three of our ongoing collaborations—in Nigeria, the United States, and Benin—give us a glimpse into the power of bringing communities together to address conflicts related to climate change:

Peacebuilders in our Protecting Our Communities Initiative in Nigeria—at a dialogue forum in Benue state, a region deeply impacted by farmer-herder conflict

Nigeria: Strengthening Joint Farmer-Herder Peacebuilding

In Nigeria’s north, climate change is reducing the amount of arable land and affecting access to water. This is adding stress to existing cycles of conflict among crop farmers and cattle herders—and contributing to the crisis of insecurity, subjecting communities to banditry and ransom kidnapping attacks.

A core focus of the Protecting Our Communities Initiative is on strengthening relationships among farmers and herders across ethnic and religious differences. After holding months of dialogue between farmers and herders at the community level—successfully resolving local conflicts—the project team convened dialogues between state-level chapters of farmers’ and herders’ associations.

The associations’ leadership found common ground, developed a shared advocacy platform, and are actively working together to address the root causes of farmer-herder conflicts and to prevent semi-nomadic herding communities from being further marginalized. Forty women from the two organizations also met for dialogue, reunited for the first time since farmer-herder conflicts began reaching crisis levels about 20 years ago.

Leaders from the two associations presented jointly at our August 2022 and December 2023 National Conference on the Management of Farmer-Herder Relations, hosted by Neem Foundation, the Nigerian government’s Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, and Karuna Center.

The only way forward to maintain peace and harmony is, whenever there is an occasion for dialogue, every tribe needs to be involved—not to pick some, and neglect some.


MACBAN (Miyetta Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria) Representative (left) presenting jointly with the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) in the photo above

U.S: Dialogue and Climate Justice

Toxic, climate-warming emissions from the United States’ industry and power plants are disproportionately sited in low-income communities and in particular communities of color. This leads to high rates of diseases including cancer, asthma, and severe COVID-19. Impacted communities are rarely fully represented and included in the process of developing climate-related solutions. But they need to be: Otherwise, efforts to address overall emissions could inadvertently allow deadly disparities to continue.

Over the past two years, Transforming the Conversation on Carbon Pricing dialogues have brought carbon pricing advocates (who seek a tax, or some kind of price, on carbon pollution) together with environmental justice leaders (representing communities directly impacted by pollution). The process has successfully built trust and deepened understanding among ideologically diverse participants, and fostered collaboration on national climate change legislation.

We are now co-leading Phase 2 of this project together with Pattern Change Lab. In this phase, participants are looking more concretely at the impact of carbon pricing on equity and justice, and what policy design features are necessary to avoid negative impacts. We will continue to keep trust-building and inclusive processes at the core of this work. Everybody needs and deserves a healthy environment, and an environmentally just future will benefit us all.


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