Myanmar: Climate Actions, Conflict and Peacebuilding

Info

Start date: 1 December, 2021 End date: 30 November, 2026 Project type: Research collaboration projects in Danida priority countries (Window 1) Project code: 20-05-DIIS Countries: Myanmar Thematic areas: Climate change, Conflict, peace and security, Natural resource management, Lead institution: Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS), Denmark Partner institutions: Enlightened Myanmar Research (EMR), Myanmar Yangon University (UY), Myanmar Project coordinator: Helene Maria Kyed Total grant: 12,000,000 DKK

Project summary

This research project (MyClimate) explores how climate change interventions affect and are affected by existing conflict dynamics over natural resources and identity politics in six of Myanmar’s contested ethnic areas (Kachin, Chin, Mon, Naga, Pa-O, Karen). Through ethnographic field research in these areas, MyClimate studies the ways that new adaptation and mitigation projects reconfigure land tenure relations and affect the institutional competition over natural resource control among a plurality of state and non-state actors. By adding an analysis of identity as a vector in negotiations over climate project benefits, we bring new insights to existing theories of the climate-conflict nexus, which predominantly focus on the material or institutional aspects of conflict. MyClimate fills an empirical gap in critical studies of climate change interventions with its focus on conflict-affected contexts that have multiple governance and land tenure systems. Through a cross-cutting analysis of the empirical case studies - supplemented with national-level interviews and document studies - we identify the conditions under which climate change projects engender conflicts or contribute to peacebuilding. This knowledge can assist policymakers and international agencies in developing conflict-sensitive and peacebuilding-oriented climate change policies and projects for fragile contexts. Myanmar is a critical case for such an endeavour given its very high vulnerability to climate change and its extensive history of recent and ongoing armed conflicts.
The project builds on a strong partnership between the Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS), Enlightened Myanmar Research Foundation (EMReF) and Yangon University. Through our joint fieldwork, trainings, publications and public dissemination activities we help advance social science research capacity in Myanmar on a topic of acute relevance for the country’s future that has mainly been studied from a natural-scientific perspective and without a conflict lens.

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