Conflict Potential, Sustainable Development, and Environmental Security
  • Günther Baechler
Part of the Social Indicators Research Series book series (SINS, volume 2)


This study aims to elaborate on the violent transformation of society-nature relationships. The assumption of the coincidence of poverty-driven environmental transformation and ongoing violent conflicts and wars (see: 1, 2) could be confirmed empirically. Various methods adapted in this study to examine environment-related conflicts provided similar and complementary results. The cultural ecological background of dryland and mountain systems transformation has shown that a correlation does exist between environmental degradation and violent conflicts (see: 3). Moreover, as the synthesis of 40 case studies carried out by the ENCOP team indicates, there are different causal pathways of present violent conflicts and wars that could be traced to the environmental roots of the conflict genesis (see: 4). However, not all conflicts examined in the ENCOP became violent. Quite a number of them — although acute — remained below the threshold of organized violence, let alone war. This sample served as a control group in order to differentiate between it and those pathways, which ended up in violent confrontations among the actors involved. As the typology of environmental conflicts in general and the in-depth case study of the Rwanda arena in particular have indicated, environmental conflicts are related to socioeconomic, ethnopolitical, interregional, migrational, and demographic problem syndromes (see: 5). The significance of these factors notwithstanding, the reasons why these conflicts become violent are found in the sociopolitical network in terms of poor state performance, repressive regimes, lack of regulatory mechanisms, and unavoidable situations. This statement could be strengthened and systematized by designing a general model of environmentally caused violence (see: 6). The conflict model itself was checked by comparing it to a number of case studies provided by the scholarly literature. The linked hypotheses based on a set of different types of indicators turned out to be valid and significant for the cases examined (see: 7). This being said, one must add that the model applies more for internal conflicts than international ones, firstly, because it stresses sociopolitical aspects and, secondly, because almost all of the violent conflicts of the sample are domestic ones.


Natural Capital Poor State Performance Environmental Security Violent Conflict Strategic Group 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Günther Baechler
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Conflict ResolutionSwiss Peace FoundationBerneSwitzerland

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