Positive peace and environmental sustainability: Local evidence from Afghanistan and Nepal

Cover Photo by Prem Babu Moktan on Unsplash

NERPS researchers Dahlia Simangan and Shinji Kaneko, together with Srinjoy Bose, John Lee Candelaria, and Florian Krampe, published the results of their study of  environmental security issues at the local or community levels using the concept of positive peace in Environment and Security. The full article can be freely downloaded here.

Positive peace helps illuminate the pathways and mechanisms between the environment and social cohesion. It reappraises critiques of conflict- and resource-focused security discourses by incorporating positive peace not just as an abstract framework or a nominal goal but as everyday practices even in societies experiencing conflict risks and environmental stress. Public protests, albeit sporadic, in Afghanistan and information sharing in Nepal are examples of community-level efforts that contribute to maintaining peace and environmental sustainability despite conflict and environmental risks.

ABSTRACT: Climate and other forms of global environmental change are transforming the security landscape where peace and conflict manifest. Given that most studies on the relationship between peace and the environment focus on (the absence of) violent conflicts or negative peace, this study seeks to identify environmental security issues at the local or community levels using the concept of positive peace. A thematic analysis of focus group discussions from Afghanistan and Nepal, two countries with histories of violent conflict and vulnerable to climate change, reveals non-violent security issues that could undermine resilience to conflict and environmental change. In Afghanistan, local communities view poor water quality and inequitable water distribution as outstanding issues related to government inaction. In Nepal, local communities perceive threats of wild animals and agricultural problems as prominent issues linked to inadequate government support. These findings confirm the value of positive peace in illuminating and contextualizing the relationship between peace and environmental sustainability. This integrated framework can contribute to a more holistic approach toward climate security and environmental peacebuilding.