Economic and environmental crises such as poverty and famine are often blamed for driving conflict, but the relationship is complicated. The U.S. Institute of Peace works to better understand the connections between violence, economics and the environment. The Institute then uses these insights to identify effective peacebuilding interventions that prevent or end violence during an economic or environmental crisis.
With a staggering array of immediate crises facing the world — from the COVID pandemic to a global increase in extremist violence — it sometimes feels difficult, perhaps even impossible, to look beyond the current moment and envision what the world will look in the coming decades. However, looming demographic, economic, environmental and technological shifts are already starting to affect the global geopolitical environment — not only worsening our current crises, but inciting new ones should we fail to put in place long-term strategies to address them.
Lebanon’s devolving economic and financial crisis could potentially be one of the world’s three worst since 1850, according to a World Bank report released last week. The increasingly dire situation — exacerbated by the COVID pandemic and last year’s Port of Beirut explosion — has likely dragged more than half the population below the poverty line, as unemployment soars and the price of basic goods surges. Already accomplices to this economic collapse due to years of corruption and mismanagement, Lebanon’s leaders have been reviled for their limited response. With Lebanese exasperated with their increasingly desperate situation, there could be widespread social unrest and a major breakdown, which would have important humanitarian and regional security implications.
In making major deals with Myanmar’s military rulers, China seems to be violating its official guidance for investment abroad: Avoid conflict zones. Although Myanmar is in a state of collapse and widening rebellion, China continues to advance plans for a complex economic corridor in the country with the military unveiling steps to move ahead with big joint-venture projects. The generals’ bid to appear in control of things is obvious. China, on the other hand, seems to have fallen into a trap. Cozying up to the junta puts its investments at immediate and long-term risk and erodes its standing in regional organizations. To protect its interests, Beijing should press the junta to curb its rampant violence against the population and to restore the elected government.
The U.S. Institute of Peace supports programs and research that contribute to the mission of promoting enduring peace in South Asia. The institute provides analysis, capacity development and resources to individuals and institutions working to prevent, mitigate, and resolve violent conflict. In Pakistan, USIP awards funding in three categories, ranging from projects that test new, experimental ideas to supporting local and international organizations on policy relevant research.