Environment and Peace

(06-04-2011) The connection between environment and peace is unfortunately not that straight forward for many people. They belief that the focus should lie on international relations and military considerations to stop direct violence and promote democracy. However peace is not only about the absence of war but much more about the active construction of living situations and relations that are based on justice and abolish any kind of structural, cultural or environmental violence. Indeed peace is about seed Sovereignty, food sovereignty, water sovereignty and land sovereignty. We need once more to feel at home on the earth and with each other.

Apart from the fact that we need a healthy and functioning environment to feel at home and be able to sustain our existence on this planet, the exploitation of nature has led to a degeneration of nature and according resource scarcity and therefore also caused direct violence and war, where the groups left with too few resources to sustain themselves will fight for survival. Scenarios vary: First, groups may be led to “gamble for survival” facing an environmental shock threatening their survival. Second, a mismatch between a group’s power and its needs can lead to war even when survival is possible for all. Third, war may result from groups’ anticipation of adverse environmental change in the future. Vandana Shiva explains the far reaching connections between environment and peace in her speech for receiving the Sydney Peace Prize:

For me personally the link between nature and peace is predominantly on a  spiritual level. Having grown up on the countryside and spending all day long outside and with animals a green and healthy environment is necessary for my comfort and inner peace (one of the reasons why living in Castellon is such a challenge for me). Whenever life in the ‘real’ world becomes too stressful I like to escape into nature where neither the past nor the future count, but only the presence- only one of the aspects showing that animals are far ahead of us humans.

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