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The role of environmental conflicts in initiating and perpetuating violent conflicts
The concept of sustainable development recognises the interdependence of social justice and environmental integrity. There is a strengthening body of research on environmental conflict. Whilst human-wildlife conflicts are merely indicative of adverse effects of wildlife on human activities, biodiversity and wider environmental conflicts are articulated as differences between people over environmental issues, exhibited as actions taken by at least one party against the interests of others. Such differences are initiated by drivers such as contrasting values, livelihood requirements, commercial possibilities, new legislation, ecological or environmental changes or social inequalities, often linked to socio-economic, cultural or ethnic variation. Environmental conflicts may thus represent not just a squabble over natural resources, but vastly divergent ways of seeing the world. To what extent do environmental conflicts initiate violent conflicts? How might the understanding gained from research on environmental conflicts contribute to our knowledge of the causes and management of violent conflict? And finally, could a lack of attention to ongoing or potential environmental conflicts prevent or slow attempts to resolve violent conflict? Through addressing these questions, this paper attempts to emphasise the contribution of environmental integrity in the pursuit of sustainable development after violent conflict.
- Rehema White (University of St. Andrews) and Stephen Redpath (University of Aberdeen)
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