n Conflict Trends - Addressing climate-related conflict : human security and lessons from the southern Sahelian belt of Sudan

Volume 2011, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1561-9818


While sceptics and alarmists waste time over whether humans are responsible for climate change, we have been presented with strong evidence that our world will experience a range of positive and negative climatic effects which will affect the lives of millions. Some regions will become dryer, with more rapid desertification; others will get wetter and warmer, improving conditions and extending planting seasons. The effects of climate change - droughts, desertification, precipitation changes and other weather events - especially affect societies where people depend on the environment to make a living and where they lack the capacity to cope, prevent or adapt to sudden or slower, systematic changes. In Africa, and especially sub-Saharan Africa, where the environment is the main source of livelihood for the poor, conflicts - related to the environment and other socio-economic and political factors - are common. It is likely, therefore, that additional environmental stress factors brought about by climatic changes will exacerbate conflicts or lead to new ones. Practitioners and policy makers in the fields of conflict resolution, peacebuilding, development and adaptation, to name a few, should therefore develop measures to assist African communities to prevent and mitigate environment and other related conflicts and to create conditions for stability and peace.

This article makes two arguments. First, given the complexity of conflicts and climate-conflict linkages the resultant need for interdisciplinary human security approaches, with their wider applicability, may be particularly suitable for research, policy development and practical intervention. Second, by applying a revised human security framework in a study of interventions by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that address environmental conflicts in the southern Sahelian belt of Sudan, potential lessons for climate change adaptation policy and conflict resolution have been identified. This article focuses on one of the highlights from that study, and argues that the use of traditional conflict resolution (TCR) mechanisms reduce vulnerability and improve human security in the southern Sahelian belt of Sudan - and, therefore, may contribute to the resolution of future climate-related conflicts.

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