Deadline: 22 January 2020
The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) is currently accepting applications to support research that will increase the overall understanding of the complex relationships between the environment, violent conflict, and peacebuilding. With the launch of its new Environment and Conflict program, USIP will support groundbreaking research with clear potential to improve policy and practice that addresses how changes in the natural environment influence the risks of violent conflict.
USIP is primarily interested in expanding knowledge about how changes in the natural environment affect the relationship between state and society, as well as the relationship between groups (ethnic, religious, or other identities) in society. In addition, USIP seeks to better understand how the experience of violent conflict weakens a society’s capability to cope with consequences of a changing environment (e.g. increasing resource scarcity or consequences from climate change). Proposals for research that improve the understanding of these linkages while also shedding light on entry points for more effective peacebuilding strategies are especially welcome.
This RfA organizes illustrative research questions into four categories: (1) environmental peacebuilding; (2) civil society and international organizations; (3) natural resource management and governance; and (4) social inclusion/exclusion.
What are the consequences of increasing environmental crises in fragile contexts across the globe? A growing body of cross-national research has produced evidence showing how changes in climate influence the risks of violent conflict. At the sub-national level, other types of changes in the natural environment affect conflict dynamics, too. For example, climate-induced degradation of pasture may contribute to herders altering grazing migration routes, bringing them into increased competition with farmers—a dynamic that has played out violently in Nigeria’s Middle Belt region. At the same time that environmental changes may exacerbate the risks for violent conflict, recent research and field practice demonstrate that responses to environmental shocks that bring opposing groups or states together has the potential to open new ground for cooperation, trust building, and reconciliation. Environmental peacebuilding has been attempted with varying results in conflict zones around the world, including USIP priority countries in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. Against this backdrop, USIP seeks policy-relevant research with the potential to inform and improve policy and programs that seek to prevent, mitigate, or resolve violent conflict exacerbated by changes in the natural environment.
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USIP will seek applications in two categories: exploratory projects with budgets between $75,000 – $100,000 and advanced research projects with budgets between $225,000 – $300,000. Project implementation periods can range up to 24 months.
Summary of Illustrative Research Questions
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- Environmental Peacebuilding: What tools and approaches for environmental protection or natural resource management are the most effective when building peace between conflicting parties and increasing resilience in communities affected by conflict? How can practitioners and policymakers best design and implement conflict zone interventions that increase trust and understanding, cultivate interdependence, and build sustainable institutions? What conflict resolution approaches have demonstrated success in preventing violence between groups when environmental changes have altered access to or availability of natural resources?
- Civil Society and International Organizations: What role can grassroots community organizations play in preventing environment-related violent conflict – and how can the international community best support and amplify these voices? What international structures and processes can best impact transnational environmental peacebuilding efforts? What strategies and actions can civil society and grassroots groups undertake to elevate popular concerns over environmental changes, motivate changes in policy to promote greater sustainability and resilience, and reduce the risks of violent outbreaks in the face of environmental stresses?
- Natural Resource Management and Governance: What are potential natural resource management and governance approaches to mitigate the direct and indirect effects of climate change, minimize their potential contribution to violence, and prevent a compounding cycle of fragility? Who are the key stakeholders and decision makers, and how do they find common ground? How can policymakers best implement natural resource management regimes that address the needs of vulnerable communities and populations?
- Social Inclusion/Exclusion: How are marginalized communities affected by environmental shocks and stressors? What approaches (e.g. governance, dispute resolution) exist to address the adverse consequences of environmental changes on marginalized groups?
- Only academic institutions and nonprofit organizations are eligible to apply. Applicants should have demonstrated experience in research and a strong record of scholarship related to environment, conflict, and peacebuilding. Applications will be selected based on their potential to make original contributions to the field by directly addressing one or more of the four listed topics above. USIP values qualitative, quantitative, and participatory research approaches.
- Nonprofit, public and academic institutions in the U.S. or abroad are eligible. U.S. nonprofit organizations must possess 501(c)(3) status prior to applying for a USIP grant. Non-U.S. organizations must submit proof of nonprofit registration with their full application.
For more information, visit https://www.usip.org/grants-fellowships/grants/2019-20-grant-competition-request-applications
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