The precautionary principle applied to conflict prevention and recovery mandates assessment and action on vulnerabilities before conflicts become manifest and intractable. While debates over their significance continues, mounting evidence suggests increasing conflict vulnerabilities may result from climate change, environmental resource scarcities, and other events. This page (under construction) will document such evidence as it emerges, particularly as it concerns Indonesia.
Predicting future conflict
Abrupt climate change
Island states are especially vulnerable to the effects of global warming, which affect them through rising sea levels and increasing variability in climate and rainfall. According to some scenarios, abrupt climate change could, in coming years and decades, increase significantly levels of conflict, migration, and poverty, reversing years of development progress. The reports look at plausible and less plausible scenarios with predictably moderate to severe repercussions on economic and social systems in the not-so-distant future, thus the probabilities and recommendations they offer should be factored into the decisions policymakers make today.
Environmental resource scarcities
Considerable controversy exists over the links between environment, resources, and conflict. A prominent school of thought, led by Thomas F. Homer-Dixon, sees population growth and resource scarcity increasingly fueling conflict. A number of its studies may be accessed here. Indonesia is among the case studies this Project on Environmental Scarcities, State Capacity and Civil Violence has conducted.
Opposition to the position taken by this school has come from social scientists, particularly from the school of political ecology, which stresses the role of politics and political economy in the response to environmental perturbations. Some differences are outlined here.
Biofuel production represents an emerging environmental issue, seen by some as a panacea for the energy crisis, by others a bane for the environment. Most policy makers in the West see biofuels as at least a temporary solution while technologies are being developed to deal with long term energy needs. The decision to commit land and resources to the development of biofuels is a particularly controversial one in Indonesia, where palm oil, jathropa (castor oil plant) and other biofuel plantations are expanding to meet expected demand. As Indonesia is on the verge of becoming the world's number one palm oil producer, it is important that the short- and long-term costs of its production do not outweigh the benefits. Among the potential downsides of biofuel production that require urgent consideration:
Present solutions for sustainable futures?
Will be added below what might point in the right direction (to be confirmed):