Posted on 30 November 2020 by Christie Nicoson (Department of Political Science).
The views expressed in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the Agenda 2030 Graduate School or Lund University. The present document is being issued without formal editing.
How does the 2030 Agenda shape accountability in the field of peace and conflict research and practice, more specifically referencing the field of environmental peacebuilding? This raises many possibilities. Consider for instance whether or how government institutions, military interventions, or global peacebuilding organizations are held accountable. Much has been said – and should be said – about how to hold such processes accountable. But what about another side of this – accountable to whom and for what?
The 2030 Agenda and sustainability conversation could present an opportunity for greater incorporation of diverse experiences. Accountability ‘for whom’ is an important question to consider for environmental peacebuilding. And the integrated and more holistic rhetoric of the Agenda and around sustainability present opportunities for this to be considered more deeply both in terms of people and groups, but also issue areas.
The field of environmental peacebuilding aims to incorporate environmental issues in post-conflict peacebuilding contexts (for example in rehabilitation or negotiations) so as to address root causes of violence, enhance cooperation, and foster sustainable peace. Regarding accountability ‘for whom,’ we might ask not only where initiatives are working but also where they are not. This question holds relevance not only for interventions or programming, but also for research. Perhaps certain peacebuilding efforts worked for segments of a population (or for segmented issue areas) but not for others. Perhaps research has had a spotlight on some experiences of peace, while neglecting others.
Elements of the Agenda, if taken seriously and engaged with meaningfully, such as ‘leave no one behind’ or the goals on e.g. gender equality or reduced inequality have the potential to hold environmental peacebuilding to account. We might consider how peace efforts impact a wider population and account for diverse experiences – not only between social categories but intersecting them, as well.
Now, ‘for what’? Looking through a lens of sustainability or with the Agenda as a framework, environmental peacebuilding should incorporate social issues such as addressing and seeking to lessen social inequality or perhaps to include health considerations and climate sensitivity. This widens environmental peacebuilding so as to become a more holistic concept and approach. Through a sustainability approach, environmental peacebuilding initiatives and research might be accountable to more issue areas. Environmental peacebuilding is often framed with reference to ‘sustainable peace’. In this sense, a more holistic approach not only makes sense but seems to advance the inherent goals of such a program: by incorporating more aspects of society or issue areas into a peacebuilding program, the program may be able to address not only symptoms of violence that might manifest as overt or physical violence, but also structural factors that underlie or act as root causes of many conflicts.