Cooling Tensions as the Temperature Rises: The Implications of Climate Change for Mediation and Peace Processes
An increasing body of evidence shows the effects of climate change can exacerbate existing risks of violence and insecurity. Mediators need to consider its implications for their work.
The climate crisis we are experiencing is complex and dynamic, and its effects on peacemaking efforts can be profound. The majority of UN special political missions operate in highly climate vulnerable contexts, and the demand for guidance on climate-informed peacemaking is growing. Against this backdrop, DPPA launched its practice note, “The Implications of Climate Change for Mediation and Peace Processes,” to support practitioners across the UN and beyond who are operating in climate exposed environments.
The note aims to distil emerging best practices across all phases of mediation and peace-making, from preparation, to process design and negotiation, through to drafting peace agreements and their implementation. It provides a list of steps for mediators looking to see if a climate-related approach is warranted in any given case; guidance on how to establish climate expertise in a mediation team; advice on how to negotiate climate-related issues; and how to draft a climate-adaptive peace agreement that includes shared, climate-related goals and initiatives. Finally, it illustrates how the inclusion of climate-related entry points and provisions in a peace agreement can have benefits for implementation, not least because it may open up new funding sources from evolving international climate finance mechanisms.
The Note also highlights that climate-informed approaches offer opportunities for inclusion: the unique insights of women, youth, community elders, environmental activists, indigenous communities, and the private sector can inform discussion and generate ideas for responses to the climate effects and the conflict.
Yet it sounds a word of caution; while climate change is an established scientific reality, it is also a politically charged subject that should be approached carefully: mediators need to avoid the perception that they are artificially injecting an external agenda into negotiations or overstating its role. A climate-informed mediation process that is or appears to be externally driven may undercut local or national ownership of a process and its outcomes.
One thing is clear: practitioners cannot remain moored to traditional methods of negotiation and mediation which are no longer adapted to the evolving context of the global climate crisis.