People suffer from conflicts long after the fighting is over, in part due to the long-term effects of conflict on the natural environment. Deforestation and toxic pollutants damage our soil and the food we eat, the air we breathe and the water we drink or use for our crops. Although environmental issues aren’t often a point of focus in conflict, they are absolutely essential in the humanitarian response and recovery work. At the same time, the climate crisis could be a trigger for more conflict as people have to leave their land affected by lack of water or increased heat or have to share less natural resources with more people, which can fuel tensions. Yet it can also be a source of peacebuilding when we share the scarce natural resources that we have.
The environment is an important part of PAX’s work on peacebuilding and conflict prevention. We brief UN Member States in the Security Council to encourage them to address these problems through a better collection and sharing of data, effective environmental cooperation in humanitarian response and the ‘greening’ of peacekeeping operations. PAX works with local partners on the ground in Syria and Iraq to identify the environmental damages incurred from conflict, to search for solutions and, to assist in clean-up operations. PAX received the United Nations Green Star Award for its work on this subject in 2017.
Do you want to hear more about conflict-related environmental issues and how PAX combats them? Sign up for this webinar! PAX’er Wim Zwijnenburg & Peter Schwartzstein will tell us about it.
About the speakers
- Wim Zwijnenburg studied both International Development Studies and Philosophy. On behalf of PAX, he is coordinator of the European Forum on Armed Drones. In addition, he writes about recent developments in the field of military robots and unmanned aircrafts and about campaigns for better international regulation of the deployment of armed drones. He also researches the effects of conflict on the environment and conducts field research in Iraq, Syria and Ukraine.
- Peter Schwartzstein is a Journalist in Residence at the Center for Climate and Security. Based in Cairo since 2013, he covers water, food and environmental security issues across 20 countries in the Middle East and Africa, with a particular focus on how climate change is contributing to conflict and terrorism in the region. Peter’s work regularly appears in National Geographic, Newsweek, Foreign Policy and Smithsonian magazines, among other publications. Most recently, he traveled the length of the Nile for a BBC investigation into how climate change and population growth are poisoning relations between the riverine states, and spent three years reporting in Iraq on how ISIS profited from dire conditions in the country’s agricultural heartlands to recruit farmers into its ranks. In addition to journalism, Peter consults for the UN Environment Program and mentors young environmental reporters. Prior to his move to the Middle East, he worked for Reuters in London. Peter holds BA and MA degrees from Trinity College, Dublin, and is a member of the Royal Geographic Society, Overseas Press Club, Society of Environmental Journalists and Frontline Freelance Register