Weaponization of the Environment Conference 2023



9:00 – 9:45 Walk-In

Audience members are welcomed to the conference. Tea and coffee will be available.

9:45 – 10:00 Introduction

During a brief introduction, we will outline the meaning of the Weaponization of the Environment and what a green conflict studies approach holds for the conference. Giving a brief overview of the program, the intro will illustrate how the various sections aim to contribute to the trajectory of the familiarity of conflict and environment.

10:00 – 10:45 Keynote by Jeroen Warner

The Weaponisation of Water: From Hydroterrorism to Violent Infrastructure

Environmental circumstances disrupt and are disrupted by societal and ecologic affairs at all levels while simultaneously holding the potential to engage constructively in cooperation. The first section of this conference will provide an introduction to the complexities of the environment and conflict nexus.

Dr. Jeroen Warner teaches, trains and publishes on Crisis and Disaster Studies at Wageningen University and Research Centre (WUR), where he completed his PhD degree in Disaster Studies and is now a senior Associate Professor and a member of the WUR Sociology of Development and Change group as a researcher and teaching staff.

A founding member of the London Water Research Group, Dr. Jeroen works on domestic and transboundary water conflict and cooperation, multi-stakeholder participation, resource management, and water governance. He published seven books and well over 100 academic and professional articles. He won a CAPES scholarship as Special Visiting Professor at the University of Sao Paulo.

His main research interests in the crisis and disaster management domain are the politics of disaster risk reduction, social resilience and participation in urban disaster response. On that last theme, he coordinated the European Horizon 2020 Coordination and Support Action, EDUCEN, on cities, cultures and catastrophes He was Wageningen coordinator in two Integrated Projects funded by the Dutch Science Foundation: Dynamic Deltas and Hydrosocial Deltas.

Jeroen is Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Water Governance, an interdisciplinary journal focused on water governance and other water-related issues such as inter alia, water supply, drought, water quality and flood protection as well as governance capacity in environmental protection, stakeholder engagement, risk assessment, water allocation, participatory planning, information management, technology assessment, water ethics and policy development. Dr. Jeroen is also an associate editor of the Regions and Cohesion journal.

11:00 – 12:30 Panel 1: Monitoring approaches to the securitized environment

Environmental security as a research terminology featured ambiguous understandings throughout its existence, whether seen in its original conflict-triggering conceptualization or the more recent symbiotic comprehension of environmental protection as part of human security. Accordingly, environmental security concerns the threats to the environment caused by individuals, groups, or nations and uncovers the ways in which conflict and conflict actors both affect and exploit the environment. The theme of environmental security focuses on the everyday realities of direct conflict, warfare, violence and post-conflict reconstruction. The focus will be on the roots, outcomes and dynamics of specific conflict situations and the positive utilities of environmental and resource management for conflict mitigation. 

As part of the field of Green Conflict Studies, Environmental Security in the context of this panel will be centred around environmental aspects within an armed conflict lifecycle. To further conceptualize green conflict studies as a field of research, this panel will focus on the research practices and methods that provide a framework for conflict analysis. How do various research agencies monitor the environment within the frame of conflict? How can the effects of climate change, conflict and the associated environmental harm be analyzed and monitored? Through our panel discussion with our panellists, we will explore the different possible methods for green conflict analysis. In this panel the question of how different organizations research environmental security in an age of climate change is central. The speakers within this panel are originating from think tanks, NGOs and academia thus providing us with differing perspectives on the issues of environmental security while simultaneously all having experience in conflict studies. Combining this range of research perspectives, we hope to contribute to further the discussion on Green Conflict Studies.

  • Wim Zwijnenburg
    How Open-Source Data  is Strengthening Protection of the Environment in Relation to Armed Conflicts
  • Irina Patrahau
    Water, Peace, and Security in Iraq
  • Jeroen Warner
    The Weaponisation of Water: From Hydroterrorism to Violent Infrastructure
  • Marie Schellens
    Environment and Armed Conflict: from Environmental Impacts to Nature-Based Solutions

14:00 – 15:30 Panel 2: Power, Politics and Peacebuilding

Environmental Governance is a broad concept and practical field that encompasses complex governance elements to tackle issues of environmental concern through the involvement of multiple stakeholders and actors. The ability to enable adaptive management in socio-ecological systems, build collaboration among participants, and mitigate climate-conflict risks are some goals of environmental governance that can operate at a multitude of levels, whether that be global, regional, or local. Environmental governance is a topical issue in relation to conflict because climate change and environmental conditions can increase tension or be the source of conflict. The environment can also be a tool in peacebuilding efforts, and therefore understanding and having inclusive governance schemes is essential in the conflict lifecycle. Environmental Governance as an aspect of green conflict studies can attempt to manage the relationship between environmental concerns and conflict. By centring power relations in governance, this panel seeks to uncover the inequalities present in environmental governance and how they affect individuals and communities impacted by conflict.

This conference seeks to critically analyze Environmental Governance by looking at aspects of power, inclusion, and operation. We seek to ask who has decision-making power, who benefits from such decisions and why, who is included in governance schemes, and how environmental governance practically operates in different settings. In this regard, our panel will delve into a critical analysis of Environmental Governance by looking at the relationship between power and land rights to understand what assumptions and goals influence governance, as well as tracing the link between conflict, peacebuilding, and conservation, and how different actors influence or are influenced by violence.

  • Tim Stork
    Militarized Conservation in Post-Treaty Colombia
  • Aditi Saraf
    Hifazat – Law, Land, and Resistance in Kashmir
  • Tobias von Lossow
    The Prevention of the Weaponization of the Environment and the Limits of Environmental Governance

15:45 – 17:00 Panel 3: Critical, Local, and Bottom-Up Approaches to the Weaponization of the Environment

In order to present a useful and comprehensive discussion of the weaponization of the environment, this conference must endeavour to highlight the plethora of diverse voices and perspectives that exist within the field. The intricate and numerous angles from which one can approach the previous two panels on environmental security and environmental governance point both to the inherent complexity and the need to adequately consider this complexity in order to provide as complete a picture as possible. As such, it is vital to make space for critical, local, and bottom-up approaches to the weaponization of the environment.

With this panel, we aim to present a selection of voices and a set of ideas that present a small fraction of the vast number of discourses that make up what can be classified as critical, local, and bottom-up approaches. These frameworks for understanding the weaponization of the environment centre voices that are often marginalized and knowledge that is often side-lined, subsumed, or supplanted by knowledge produced by neo-colonial actors, institutions from the Global North, and other actors in positions that are sustained by structural and systemic power inequalities. While avoiding the treatment of these discourses as monolithic, this panel endeavours to provide a platform in which to highlight and bring into conversation some of the unique and diverse perspectives and narratives that fall under the larger umbrella of critical, local, and bottom-up approaches to the weaponization of the environment.

  • Raki Ap
    Should we arm and train Indigenous Peoples to protect our Vital Ecosystems?
  • Tim Boekhout van Solinge
    Indigenous Forest Crime Prevention in the Brazilian Amazon

17:00 – 18:00 Drinks