Climate Change and Conflict

Climate Change, Security and Peacebuilding: Challenges and Opportunities Across Scales

October 27 - 28, 2022

New Zealand

The effects of climate change generate threats to peace and security for people and societies across multiple scales and dimensions of social life. These can challenge the everyday security of community members in rural environments, as well as geo-political stability in regional-international contexts. Relocations of coastal villages further inland due to sea level rise or the geo-strategic changes due to the warming of Arctic waters come to mind as examples. Moreover, these effects often are linked across levels – local developments can have national, regional and even international consequences, and decisions taken in far-away capital cities of major powers can have consequences for the everyday lives of people in the local context. Peace and security are affected in various dimensions – from human to national security, from the stability of international order to the spiritual needs of deeply religious communities.

This workshop will address these interconnections with a regional focus on the Pacific. It will bring together researchers, practitioners and policymakers for information sharing, exchange and dialogue. Challenges for collaboration across scales and issue areas will be explored. Core questions will be, for example: how to translate very local stories and local data into national, regional and international policies; how to reconcile the complexities of specific cases with (the need for) standardised policy and programme formats, how to reconcile different time horizons and requirements, what to learn from experiences of past relocations.

Representatives of NGOs working with climate change-affected local communities will present the NGOs’ experiences. Policymakers from the New Zealand government and multilateral organisations will introduce their programmes, while researchers will report on cases and problems in the climate change, security and peacebuilding field. Together the workshop will reflect on different experiences, needs, constraints and mutual expectations.

The main thematic area of the workshop is the nexus between climate change, human mobility (in its various forms of migration, relocation, displacement), security and peacebuilding. Practitioners will report on their work with communities in Fiji which had to or have to relocate due to the effects of climate change. Researchers will present case studies from the Pacific diaspora in New Zealand as well as specific Pacific Island contexts (Tuvalu and Solomon Islands). Policymakers will talk about regional Pacific and national (New Zealand, Tuvalu) initiatives and the broader political context. The drivers of conflict related to climate mobility will be identified and addressed, and this will inform us about needs and options for conflict prevention and resolution, and what customary/local ways of conflict prevention and resolution can contribute.  

The aim of the workshop is to develop a better mutual understanding of approaches, advantages, limitations and concerns of various stakeholders across multiple scales; on this basis options for collaboration can be explored, taking as a starting point the 2018 Boe Declaration statement that climate change is “the single greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and wellbeing of the peoples of the Pacific.”

The workshop is co-organised by the Toda Peace Institute, Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington, and IOM, supported by MFAT New Zealand and Toda’s partner organisation Conciliation Resources (London and Melbourne), as well as its partners in Fiji (Transcend Oceania, Pacific Centre for Peacebuilding, Pacific Conference of Churches, Pacific Theological College). 

Recommended reading for participants:

Climate Change, Population Mobility and Relocation in Oceania - John R. Campbell.

Part I: Background and Concepts
Part II: Origins, Destinations and Community Relocation

Peacebuilding Approaches to Climate Change in Fijian Communities 

A guide grounded in traditional knowledge and culturally appropriate non-violent approaches to create just, peaceful, inclusive, participatory, sustainable and resilient communities. This 'Community Engagement Approach', undertaken by Transcend Oceania and Conciliation Resources, is a work in progress and a methodology that will continue to be tested.