CEOBS. Challenging the cliché of the silent victim
STRESSES New remote data technologies are providing us with the tools that we need to be able to tell those stories in ever more detail, and with ever increasing speed.
The world seems no more peaceful now than it was when we first dreamt up the idea of CEOBS in an old mill in Manchester. Environmental stresses are increasing globally, leaving communities and ecosystems damaged by conflicts ever more exposed to the consequences of environmental degradation. It has never been more important to monitor environmental change in areas affected by conflict. And throughout the cycle of armed conflicts.
Post-conflict environmental assessments are important for understanding the environmental consequences of war. But they will also increasingly form the basis for guiding sustainable recovery, where there is the knowledge, wisdom and opportunity to implement it. This includes building in resilience to environmental stresses.
By telling stories before those assessment teams arrive, we can not only help guide where they visit but we can also help ensure that those assessments take place. If people do care about the environment in war, they are more likely to fund efforts to understand and address harm, and to assist those affected.
And so, to conclude. Taken together, data technologies and storytelling are a powerful environmental modification technique. Used alongside the other research and advocacy techniques at our disposal, they hold open the promise of dismantling the structural and cultural barriers that created and sustained the cliché of the environment as a silent victim of conflict. The environment is finding its voice, and progress here holds open the promise of progress elsewhere, particularly around questions of accountability and behavioural change.
Before I finish, I would like to thank our hosts King’s College London’s Department of Geography, and in particular Professor Rob Francis. And I would of course like to thank the Environmental Peacebuilding Association for this award, on behalf of all of our staff and trustees, past and present, and our many project partners and collaborators.