In recent years, it has increasingly been recognised that both climate change and efforts to adapt to it have complex and diverse effects on peace and conflict dynamics. They can exacerbate patterns of exclusion and intersect with threats to the human security of populations, but they can also present opportunities for building sustainable peace – including through efforts to respond in an inclusive manner to the challenges that climate change poses.
The European Union and various international actors have made progress in understanding and responding to the linkages between climate change, gender equality, and peace and conflict. However, significant gaps and challenges remain in ensuring (1) that conflict prevention and peacebuilding efforts adequately and systematically mainstream and integrate climate and gender equality considerations, particularly as they intersect with each other, and (2) that climate adaptation efforts do no harm and actively contribute to sustainable peace.
This discussion paper makes the case that conflict analysis that is sensitive to both gender and climate change is an essential contribution to efforts to achieve these two objectives, and that it should systematically be carried out by actors looking to intervene in fragile or conflict-affected countries.
In the first section, we examine how climate change and climate adaptation efforts may affect (gendered) conflict dynamics, violence and exclusion in different ways, underscoring the importance of avoiding assumptions and of carrying out nuanced and context-specific analysis to understand the dynamics at play in a given area. We also discuss addressing in an integrated manner these interlinkages in policy.
In the second section, we introduce and present the benefits of gender-sensitive and climatesensitive conflict analysis, which is essential to ensure that interventions of any type are conflict-sensitive, i.e. that they do no harm and that they actively contribute to peace. Gender-sensitive and climate-sensitive conflict analysis helps making the impacts of peacebuilding and climate adaptation interventions more sustainable, it facilitates achieving integrated outcomes, it can strengthen relationships with local actors, and it benefits the organisations carrying out the analysis in different ways.
Finally, in the third section, we put forward and detail key recommendations for how organisations should approach gender-sensitive and climate-sensitive conflict analysis, and discuss how to address some of the risks and challenges that organisations may encounter. The recommendations include that:
- The integration of gender analysis and climate change into conflict analysis should become the minimum standard and should be prioritised systemically.
- Conflict analysis should be geared towards building sustainable peace, including by integrating the identification of opportunities to pursue gender equality and to address climate change.
- Conflict analysis processes should themselves always be conflict-sensitive (and thus sensitive to their own impacts on gender dynamics and climate change).
- The personnel involved in conflict analysis processes should have adequate time and resources, and the relevant expertise on conflict prevention and conflict analysis, on gender, and on climate change, and the environment, to carry out the analysis.
- The personnel involved in conflict analysis processes should adopt a holistic
understanding of human security.
- Conflict analysis processes should be inclusive and participatory in nature.
- Participatory conflict analysis processes must always guarantee the safety, security, and wellbeing of the people who are consulted, and provide them with safe spaces allowing them to express themselves freely.
- Participatory conflict analysis processes should also keep informed and benefit the people who participate in them.
- Conflict analysis should examine dynamics over time and cover the interplay between elements at different levels.
- Conflict analysis should be approached as a continuous process rather than as a one-off exercise.
As discussed at the end of the paper, a final recommendation is that gender-sensitive and climate-sensitive conflict analysis should not be an end in itself: it should serve to inform decision-making, programming, and interventions. As it can be difficult for organisations to translate detailed analysis of complex situations into concrete actions that they can implement (or to adapt existing interventions), the connection between analysis and action should be built into both the conflict analysis process itself and the institutional processes that it feeds into.