A Conflict-Sensitive Approach to Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation in the Urbanizing Asia-Pacific

Ting Zhang
The Hague Institute for Global Justice
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Existing studies have extensively studied the link between climate change and conflict. Less well-researched is the potential of climate change mitigation and adaptation in leading to conflict, in particular urban violence. There is potential for the two to undermine one another if a conflict-sensitive approach is not taken. Conflict sensitivity means ‘do no harm’ and implies a contribution to peacebuilding. Mitigation and adaptation may increase inequality in access to resources and the distribution of costs and benefits, which is a risk factor in socioeconomic violence. Violence causes the loss of social capital, destruction of infrastructure, diversion of scarce resources, and undermines the perceived legitimacy and effectiveness of institutions by the groups involved in violence. All of this damage may in the long term reduce the effectiveness of mitigation and adaptation. This paper examines the special considerations that should be given in the design and implementation of mitigation and adaptation strategies in order to reduce urban violence while addressing climate change in cities in the rapidly urbanizing Asia-Pacific. The paper’s findings are four considerations for conflict sensitivity, namely a) horizontal coordination between various departments of the government, b) vertical coordination among different levels of government, c) collaboration with non-state actors and d) inclusivity of the needs of the poor. The paper views actors at the municipal level as an appropriate level and unit to take up the conflict-sensitive approach to mitigation and adaptation. It ends with some general recommendations for these actors as well as for future research.

The Hague Institute for Global Justice