THE CONFLICT AND ECOLOGY PROJECT
Understanding the inter-play between conflict and the environment is crucial for understanding and remedying the impact of conflict on global ecosystems.
While conflict burns and crushes whole landscapes through clearing land or aerial bombing, pollution is often the toxic legacy: this can be through either a deliberate act of eco-destruction as in the well-documented case of the defoliant Agent Orange in Vietnam, or as collateral damage like the release of chemicals into the Danube after NATO war-planes bombed Serbian industrial centres.
Post-war policies for peace and security often confront significant humanitarian and economic development challenges linked to severe degradation of ecosystem services. Agricultural output, energy and natural resource production, and availability of potable water typically suffer significant declines in war-dominated landscapes, while the needs of refugees and displaced persons for food, fuel, and shelter exacerbate both humanitarian aid requirements and environmental impacts.
Although there is some consideration of environmental responsibility in relation to formal (state) warfare along with environmental laws of war, these obligations usually disappear in either sub-state or intra-state conflicts or the ‘grey area’ between conflict and criminality that happens in ‘resource wars’.
Often in these conflicts humanitarian disasters quickly develop when the intentional destruction or degradation of environmental resources are part of a deliberate strategy that can have catastrophic environmental results.
THE CONFLICT AND ECOLOGY PROJECT is a collaboration between The Marjan Centre and Dr Rob Francis, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Geography at King’s College. Dr Francis has a special interest in freshwater systems and is the author of a recent paper The Impacts of Modern Warfare on Freshwater Ecosystems (please see link across ‘Publications’). The role of water, whether for consumption or to be harnessed in the exponential growth of hydropower, as well as in conjunction with environmental and population issues, is becoming a complex area at the heart of national security. please see link across ‘Publications’). The role of water, whether for consumption or to be harnessed in the exponential growth of hydropower, as well as in conjunction with environmental and population issues, is becoming a complex area at the heart of national security.
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