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International Conference on Environmental Diplomacy and Security
an article by Rebecca Pincus

The Institute for Environmental Diplomacy and Security (IEDS) is a new institution at the University of Vermont dedicated to working on issues of environment, community, development, and conflict.

click on photo to enlarge

Our inaugural conference will be held in Burlington, VT October 21-23, 2011.

Environmental issues are often framed as a source of conflict in terms of resource scarcity. Yet they tend to be relegated as "low politics," in the larger scheme of international relations. This conference aims to consider ways by which environmental issues can be raised to "high politics of war and peace" to ensure ecological, economic and social sustainability.

The conference is the inaugural event of a new research and practice center on the emerging discipline of environmental diplomacy and security at the University of Vermont. The conference is broadly arranged around 5 short symposia, each of which is targeted towards developing a product for research and educational purposes. These "products" can range from edited volumes to new educational web sites to video documentaries.

Topics have been chosen based on the relevance of these efforts to mandate of the institute’s three thematic areas: a) Borderlands b) Pragmatic Peace and c) Resource Values.

Conference symposia will focus on the following themes:

A) Polar Diplomacy: Energy, the Environment and International Security

B) The Social Ecology of Borders: Environmental Regionalism and Globalization

C) Beyond African “Exceptionalism”: Ecological approaches to improving the African Union

D) Bridging Eurasia: Energy Infrastructure, Conservation and Culture

E) Chemical Diplomacy: Negotiating Treaties around Hazardous Pollutants

In addition, one afternoon will be spent cruising Lake Champlain, with speakers and discussion focusing on Vermont-specific issues including cross-border management of the Lake Champlain basin, energy infrastructure, and issues related to Vermont's Abenaki tribal groups. Registration is available here. (For more information, please email


Question(s) related to this article:

What is the relation between the environment and peace?,

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One way to understand the relation between environment and peace is to turn the question on its head and ask what is the relation between the environment and the culture of war.  Here is what I say in my book The History of the Culture of War :

The exploitation of the culture of war involves not only exploitation of people, but also exploitation of the environment. In recent years everyone has become more aware of the dangers of environmental pollution, with special attention to carbon emissions which have increased atmospheric carbon dioxide and resulted in global warming. This is also related to the loss of the world's forests which redress the problem by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Insufficient attention has been paid, however, to the great environmental destruction and pollution caused by military activity.

Historically, military-related activity has been one of the primary causes of deforestation. This was already evident in ancient times as described above in the case of Greece and Rome. More recently, the British Empire was a major destroyer of forests, as described for India in an article by Budholai (available on the Internet) :

"The early days of British rule in India were days of plunder of natural resources. . ...more.

This report was posted on August 4, 2011.