Environment and Peace – Questions that Need Answers

Notes from Joint EPW/Academi Heddwch scoping meeting on Environment and Peace, 21 November 2023

Five major areas of interest were identified in discussion:

  1. What does peace mean in the context of environment? Although there was a general recognition that peace was a broad concept and more than the absence of war, equally there needed to be some definition/understanding of peace to avoid the term becoming meaningless.
  • The complex nexus of power/engagement/representation/intersectionality. This nexus affects understandings of and actions on a wide range of issues and agendas relating to the environment. Specific issues discussed included carbon infidelity, carbon colonialism, representations of nature and carbon trading.
  • Technology and the environment.
  • Both mitigation and adaptation could generate conflict through stressful changes required (eg Neath/Port Talbot being Wales’ biggest carbon producer but also major employer).
  • Migration  – although receiving much attention, in wales there are specific issues of (i) who is welcome and who is not, and why; and (ii) internal displacement within Wales due to coastal erosion etc.
  1. Peace could also be a state of being – a sense of tranquillity, ‘feeling peaceful’. This was not simply individual, but could be organisational/community, and something Wales has in the past advertised itself as providing (rural idyll etc). Could ideas of peace therefore be used for a better environment? But equally disagreement is important for progress and we need to differentiate between conflict and disagreement.
  • Peace operates at different scales – from geopolitics to local communities. What would a peaceful world look like at these different scales in the context of environmental change?
  • At the local level there is growing polarisation of and between communities, and some evidence of disassociation, which is especially important when thinking of environmental challenges and peaceful societies.
  • Why is the narrative on the environment one of security and not peace?
  • Is there an issue of people being increasingly removed from the environment and a lack of engagement with the natural world? Is this a social/occupational/class phenomenon?
  • Future engagement should include community groups and Future Generations Commissioner.
  • Welsh agenda consists of 3 elements:
  1. Expression in Wales
    1. Impact of Wales
    1. Resources in Wales (including intellectual resources for addressing challenge).

Mike Woods’ table:

External on WalesClimate refugees Geopolitical conflict (impact on food supply, energy supply, etc)Regulations from the outside (are these resisted?)??
Wales’s external responsibilitiesWales’s contribution to carbon emissions etc – impacts on peace elsewhere? (E.g. emissions from agriculture)Caron offsetting Renewable energy   Does Wales have a responsibility to use its natural resources to do these for wider benefit?   Local conflicts around these measures?  Wales contributing technologies for adaptation.   (How does this connect to peace?)
Within WalesFlooding etc   Do these impacts lead to social disorder within Wales?  What mitigation within Wales?Land use change? Planned coastal retreat? Etc? Are these accepted or resisted?  

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