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Pacific communities have evolved around cooperation, resolving conflict and building peace for many centuries, including weathering the social effects of environmental change.
Nevertheless, in a region with a high reliance on the economic use of land, and land playing a central role in kinship and community identity, the environmental impacts of climate change pose significant economic and social challenges for the Pacific region.
Although it is important to avoid alarmism, there is a need to analyse and understand the conflict risks associated with climate change, and the potential for increased social tensions and violence. Such analysis can support governments, civil society, international organisations, and Pacific communities in their efforts to take a conflict sensitive approach to mitigating and managing the environmental and social changes to come.
This paper provides three initial recommendations for civil society organisations, national governments, international organisations and donors who are seeking to work with communities and governments to understand and prevent violent conflict arising from the impacts of climate change. These recommendations include:
- Conducting community level analysis of conflict risks
- Employing adaptive people-centred approaches
- Support inclusive and accountable governance
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Access to land and natural resources has long contributed to conflict, but our natural environment is changing at a rate never seen before in human history. We work in partnership with local people and communities to develop conflict-sensitive responses to environmental change.
We have been working in the Pacific region for over 20 years. We have programmes in multiple parts of the Pacific region, with our work varying from supporting community peacebuilding efforts to promoting comparative learning on shared conflict issues, such as climate change and conflict.