Review of the conference: Making Peace with Nature: Environmental Peacebuilding for Sustainable Development

Geneva Peace Building Platform, Environmental Peacebuilding Association, University for Peace, International Union for Conservation of Nature Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy, The International Council on Environmental Law, Swedwatch, the Working Group for Peace and Development (FriEnt) organized an event entitled “MAKING PEACE WITH NATURE ENVIRONMENTAL PEACEBUILDING FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT” in Stockholm on 31st May 2022. The Normandy Chair for Peace (NCP), represented by Emilie GAILLARD, general coordinator of the NCP, was also one of the co-organizer of the event. Narinder KAKAR, permanent observer for the University for Peace (UPEACE) after the UN, Prof. Nicholas ROBINSON, Chair emeritus, who has already attended the 1972 Stockholm Conference, and Dean Juan Carlos SAINZ BORGO from UPEACE were also present at the conference on behalf of the NCP.

Under the chairmanship of Carl BRUCH, International Environmental Lawyer and Member of the Environmental Law Institute, the conference aimed at building an exchange between practitioners and decision-makers of the environment and the community of peace and security on the interdependence of peacebuilding and the transformation of conflicts with the environment and the sustainable development. During this session, concrete and practical approaches at the intersection of environmental peace, security and development were presented, which could then be taken up in future policy-making forums.

The conference began with a review of the 1972 Stockholm Conference and the lessons that can be drawn from it over the past 50 years. The guests successively discussed around different topics according to their own expertise.

On this occasion, Juan Carlos SAINZ-BORGO presented the university he leads and its principles, underlying that it is fully in line with the themes dealt with at the conference. Established by UN General Assembly Resolution 35/55, the University for Peace has been training leaders for peace for four decades. Based in San José, Costa Rica, it is a unique global academic institution with more than 2,000 alumni from more than 120 countries. Through its master’s and doctoral programs, UPEACE trains future leaders to explore and formulate strategies and practices in diverse contexts to address the causes of multiple problems affecting human and global well-being, and thus contribute to peacekeeping and peacebuilding processes. The institution is responsible for reporting activities to the UN General Assembly every September in New York.

Elaine HSIAO, Kansas State University and IUCN’s Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy, shared with the panel strong experiences and testimonies, including movements of populations and animals, that reflect the importance of acting quickly in the face of climate change and the degradation of our ecosystems.

To go beyond the alarming finding about the state of our environment, “We need to see what works and how we make things change”. It was around this idea that the guest panel then followed. The General Coordinator of the Normandy Chair for Peace Émilie GAILLARD recommended to develop further a trans-generational approach of fundamental rights and duties to preserve not only the interests of present generations but also the future ones. This opens a new era that calls for the establishment of a legal matrix open to the protection of the future.

The invited participants have also been shown the White Paper on the future of environmental peace-building. Annika ERICKSON-PEARSON, community manager and co-author of this White paper on “The future of environmental peace building”, made a recap of the goal of this book, which is the result of a long 18-month work co-authored by 180 authors, which aims at guiding future policies and delivering a strong and ambitious message for the Stockholm+50 conference.

At the end of the session, Vanessa MURPHY, Legal Advisor to the International Committee of the Red Cross, Doug WEIR, Researcher and Director of the Conflict and Environmental Observatory, and Britta SJOSTEDT, Professor at Lund University, shared their work and expertise on the need to integrate environmental protection into military strategies in the event of armed conflict, stressing that much remains to be done in this area.

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