Environmental Collaboration and Conflicts

Clear Skies and clouds to represent the environment.Climate change, energy production, water provision, biodiversity conservation: these environmental challenges, and the solutions we develop to deal with them, yield opportunities for both unparalleled conflict and unprecedented collaboration. 

Traditional approaches to conflict resolution and collaborative problem-solving don’t always apply to environmental problems, which often unfold over long periods of time, spill across the borders of states and nations, and have varied outcomes at different scales.  At one level, environmental conflicts are about competition for access to limited resources. At a deeper level, they are about people’s visions and ideals regarding themselves, their communities, their societies, and their futures. Environmental governance is thus never apolitical.

Understanding conflicts and promoting collaborative problem-solving therefore calls for sensitivity to the substance of environmental problems as well as to the different ways they are experienced and perceived across time and place.  

Researchers at PARCC are interested in a variety of questions about environmental conflicts and collaboration, including:

  • The role of science in environmental conflicts, and its potential both to increase polarization and provide a basis for collaboration
  • The structure of organizations that manage environmental resources, and their adaptability in the face of changing patterns of climate
  • The relationship between policies, geopolitics, power relations, and environmental governance
  • The relationship between peace-building and environmental problem-solving
  • Institutional barriers to collaborative analysis and problem-solving
  • Practical methods for conducting interdisciplinary, cross-organizational research on environmental conflicts