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Accepted Paper:

Nature, conflict, and autonomy: a world ecology critique of environmental peacebuilding.  
Calum Wheeler (University of Bath)

Paper short abstract:

The paper will critique environmental peacebuilding from the perspective of world ecology, problematising its tendency to depolitise and decontextualise territorial power dynamics. Drawing from Colombian case studies, the paper will show how this can legitimise dispossession and limit local agency.

Paper long abstract:

Environmental peacebuilding is an increasingly popular approach towards peacebuilding that foregrounds nature and socio-ecological relations as a foundation for peace, rather than a driver of conflict. The approach disrupts conventional conceptualisations of nature as a purely economic resource and has produced particularly insightful research into conflict in the context of climate change. The paper will critique environmental peacebuilding from the perspective of Moore's concept of world ecology, suggesting a significant limitation of the approach is its tendency to depoliticise conflict and post-conflict scenarios, which in turn naturalises capitalist dynamics of appropriation and exploitation. Concurrently, an over-reliance on technological solutions at the expense of participatory methods limits the agency of local actors and increases the risk of co-optation. The paper will briefly propose a re-interpretation of environmental peacebuilding that incorporates the participatory and praxis-orientated nature of world ecology and demonstrate how this can be effectively applied to peacebuilding theory and practice through a comparison of two peacebuilding case studies in Colombia: the Program for Development and Peace in Magdalena Medio (PDPMM) and the Guardians of the River Atrato, in Chocó.

Panel P31
Climate Change, Conflict and Local Agency
  Session 1 Friday 30 June, 2023, -