Shaping Peace Together

On the International Day of Peace, Oladosu Adenike explores why the climate crisis is a threat to all of us

One of the greatest threats to humanity’s existence is climate change. And its cumulative effects have made climate change more deadly than a pandemic, especially in places with little to no regard for human rights. This crisis has the potential to transform into another world war if the rights of people around the world continue to be violated in unstable environmental conditions.

No wonder the theme UN’s International Day of Peace for 2020 is Shaping Peace Together – we must reshape our interactions with our environment.

Around the world, conflicts exist with many dimensions: religious, ethnic, social and economic. But a common denominator is often around who controls the resources. Climate change leads to the depletion of natural resources – like fertile land and clean water. And invariably conflicts arise due to humankind’s inability to manage resource. We can’t fight climate-related insecurity through arms and ammunition. We need to invest less in weapons and build a peaceful world.

Shaping our world through peace requires coming together to solve the root causes of the conflicts.

As the world’s population increases and available resources decrease, humanity is heading for trouble. Sub-Saharan Africa has witnessed the ‘bloody effects’ of climate change, from the bigoted conflicts of Boko Haram in the Lake Chad region to the Niger Delta crises to the present farmers-herdsmen conflict in West Africa. The proliferation of arms and dangerous weapons are evident in these conflict zones. As the climate changes, environmental resources such as creeks, lakes and forest becomes hideouts for terrorists.

This year’s theme for the International Day of Peace is apt; and it aligns with the Africa Union theme for the year 2020: Silencing the Guns.

Weapons being burnt during the official launch of the Disarmament, Demobilization, Rehabilitation and Reintegration (DDRR) process in Muramvya, Burundi. UN website

The UN General assembly has declared today as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, through observing 24 hours of non-violence and ceasefires. Shaping peace together in 2020 requires the silencing of the guns. Peace cannot exist alongside violence. Peace acts as an extinguisher of violence.

In Africa and the Middle-East, societal inequalities – that are made worse by the climate crisis – are leading to conflicts and acts of violence. We need to fight against the root causes of poverty, low agricultural productivity, unemployment and corruption if we want to solve conflicts. Climate actions such as the implementation of the Paris agreement, afforestation and recycling can help address the perennial shortage of natural resources that leads to conflicts.

COVID-19 has increased inequalities of all kinds and has disrupted development as global economies have shut down. Even for countries at peace, the coronavirus pandemic has crippled the livelihood of millions of people with an increase in death and infection cases recorded. We need economic recovery policies that reduce inequalities among people as well as protect the natural world.

Democracy and peace are two sides of the same coin: inseparable with the common goal of promoting human rights. Democracy serves as a support system in creating a space for peace. A peaceful world starts with all of us standing up for the rights of the people and the planet that we inhabit.

Amit Lahav, Unsplash

Oladosu Adenike ([email protected]) is a climate justice activist, ecofeminist and eco-reporter from Nigeria. She specialises in equality, security and peace building in Africa especially the Lake Chad region.   

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