Research Workshop: Local Environmental Peacebuilding in Nepal

On April 20, 2023, Dahlia Simangan of the Network for Education and Research on Peace and Sustainability (NERPS) at Hiroshima University (HU) organized a research workshop on Local Environmental Peacebuilding in Nepal, jointly with the Hiroshima University Scholars’ Alumni Nepal (HiUSAN) and the Department of Conflict, Peace and Development Studies at Tribhuvan University (TU). Ranjan Prakash Shrestha (President, HiUSAN), and Rajib Timalsina (Assistant Professor, TU) served as the co-organizers. Several HU alumni based in Nepal participated and contributed to the success of the workshop.

The workshop was covered by New Spotlight, a premier news magazine that provides the latest development trends, news, in-depth analysis and ideas about Nepal’s national issues. Read more about the write-up here.

43 participants from 18 academic institutions/government agencies/think-tanks/NGOs came together to discuss the challenges and opportunities for achieving peace and environmental sustainability in Nepal.

Purpose of the Workshop: Environmental peacebuilding is a set of conflict-sensitive approaches to managing environmental issues. It encompasses the technical reduction of environmental scarcity and degradation, the restorative potential of biophysical environments, and equitable resource distribution for sustainable peace and development. While it provides the conceptual lens for understanding peace-promoting practices amidst environmental issues, environmental peacebuilding approaches are generally focused on macro-level and top-down efforts. More research is needed to better understand the local dynamics and bottom-up approaches to environmental peacebuilding. This workshop aims to highlight everyday practices of environmental peacebuilding in local communities affected by water-related conflicts and security issues, such as in Nepal. Workshop participants from academic, government, and development sectors are encouraged to answer the question: how do ordinary people disrupt environmental conflicts to maintain peace in their everyday lives? (Click here for the agenda)

IMPORTANT NOTE: The views expressed by the organizers, presenters, and participants do not represent their institutions and affiliations. The presentations and discussions were meant for academic research purposes only.

The workshop kicked off with an opening session moderated by Chiranjibi Bhandari of Tribhuvan University. Dahlia Simangan shared the purpose and agenda of the workshop, followed by a keynote speech by Ganesh Shah, former Minister for Environment, Science and Technology. Kushum Shakya, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, delivered the welcome remarks on behalf of Tribhuvan University.

The workshop had two sessions of research presentations. The first session, moderated by Dr Ranjan Prakash Shrestha of HiUSAN, consisted of four presentations related to Governance and Environmental Eeacebuilding in Nepal. First, Prakash Bhattarai of the Centre for Social Change provided a quantitative overview of the various types of conflicts in Nepal and elaborated on the characteristics of governance and resource conflicts. Second, Pitambar Bhandari of Tribhuvan University explained the political factors of peace and sustainability efforts in post-conflict federal practice in Nepal. Third, Bishnu Raj Upreti spoke of the need to for the government and other sectors to engage with academia in advancing environmental peacebuilding, which has been relatively under-examined in Nepal. Fourth, Vishnu Prasad Pandey of Tribhuvan University presented the role of water in contributing to conflict conditions and opportunities for cooperation. The first session concluded with a lively discussion on how the government can support local initiatives that contribute to peace and sustainability.

The second session also consisted of four presentations that focused on Environmental Peacebuilding Approaches in Nepal, and Rajib Timalsina of Tribhuvan University served as the moderator. The session started with the presentation of Pitambar Aryal from the Institute of Crisis Management Studies on the value of integrating climate change considerations when addressing disaster risks and events in Nepal. This is followed by Aarogya Dahal of Kathmandu University who talked about the importance of intangible heritage in understanding the water consumption pattern in urban Nepal. The third presentation was by Riyaz Karki of Peace Perspectives on the local manifestations of intersecting positive peace and environmental sustainability, using the case of Kushaha village near Koshi Barrage in southern Nepal. And then Naresh Rimal of the Armed Police Forces Nepal Command and Staff College presented various depictions of the impact of ecological crises on local communities in Nepal. Similarly, the second session had an open discussion between presenters and participants.

The workshop concluded with closing remarks by Dahlia Simangan (NERPS, HU) on NERPS activities, publication options, and pathways for future collaboration. Gita Ghimire of HiUSAN and Pitambar Bhandari of Tribhuvan University also shared their reflections and congratulatory remarks to the organizers, presenters, and participants.