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Peacebuilding is a concept that encompasses, generates and sustains a full array of processes, approaches and stages needed to transform conflict towards more cooperative, peaceful relations. Its primary goal is to move a population from a condition of vulnerability and dependency to one of self-sufficiency and well-being. In order to maintain peaceful relationships, sustainable processes have to tie in with this transformation.

Environmental peacebuilding is an issue-specific type of peacebuilding. It can help to improve living conditions, by for example improving water supply, and fosters the building of confidence and trust among adverse communities. Mutual, ecological dependence on a shared water resource, such as an international river basin, can also encourage and catalyse cooperation, rather than cause conflict.

The first step to environmental peacebuilding is to initiate dialogue that focuses on the shared freshwater ecosystem. A focused dialogue is often easier to initiate than a broad peacekeeping or peacebuilding dialogue (often pursued through formal political channels at an inter-state level). Once trust has be developed, this focused dialogue can create solution and opportunity spaces for higher level, formal cooperation over shared waters.

Recommended Reading

Conca K & Dabelko GD (eds) (2002) Environmental Peacemaking, Woodrow Wilson Center Press

IUCN Bridge Programme

Post-Conflict Peacebuilding & Natural Resource Management