Planetary Security Initiative / Stockholm International Peace Research Institute / Stockholm International Water Institute / The World Bank Group

Political drivers for sustainable ecosystems: Building peace

Thursday 30 August | 11.00-12.30 | Room: L12
Susanna Starck, SIWI

A new form of geopolitics embracing cooperative solutions for ecosystem and freshwater distribution management is essential. Environmental consequences, high-value ecosystems, and sustainability security are often hidden from view of global politics. This session draws attention to the political economy benefits of resolving ecosystem challenges through progressing the SDG 6 debate - freshwater ecosystems are essential to human health, environmental sustainability and economic prosperity – and the security implications of escalating resource use. These combined challenges move us dangerously close to the 'planetary boundaries'. Ecosystems and water bodies are reaching ‘closed’ status, and increasing infrastructure investments in developing countries necessitates trade-offs. Shared ecosystems create subnational, national or regional interdependencies with public goods-neglect or overexploitation leading to cooperative and/or conflicting outcomes. The broader socio-political context and relations between communities, sectors, or countries are the determinants. An emerging consequence is increased migration as people seek to live closer to critical, healthy natural resources.

Gold standard events are committed to ensure the gender balance in speakers/panellists and young professional representation in the session.


Uniquely designed to foster productive conversations, this seminar brings high-value ecosystems and sustainability security to the forefront of global geopolitics. Political-economy benefits of cooperative solutions for ecosystem management are demonstrated through advancing the SDG 6 debate, while these gains steer us away from dangerous ‘planetary boundaries’ induced by escalating resource-use and migration.

The second session of this seminar will consider environmental drivers and consequences of conflict and cooperation, zooming in on institutional and infrastructural best-practices in the Middle East and Africa.

11:00 Chair’s Welcome

Moderator: Dr Susanne Schmeier, IHE Delft Institute for Water Education

11:05 Regional Perspectives: Middle East Panel

Dr Erika Weinthal, Duke University

Fanni Zentai, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)

Yana Abu Taleb, EcoPeace Middle East

11:35 Regional Perspectives: Africa Panel

Jonty Rawlins, OneWorld

Beteo Zongo, Wetlands International

Stefan Döring, Uppsala University

12:05 Commentary

Johan Schaar, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute

12:15 Q&A for all panelists

12:30 End of session


Seminar Conclusions – Political Drivers for Sustainable Ecosystems

Envision equality as the political driver for proactive development of sustainable ecosystems. As we reframe our vision for sustainable ecosystems, with equality as its core driver, we must consider equality beyond inclusiveness, as voices alone are insufficient. Proactive development means that waiting to respond to the next crisis can no longer be the norm. Instead, we must instead build resilient systems and manage pre-conflict situations (noting that conflict can be violent and non-violent).

Enable national investments for achieving SDG6 through a compact between ALL social partners at diplomatic levels and at all delivery levels of society. Social partners are the decision makers in society, encompassing labour, business, civil society, and government. Delivery levels include global, regional, national, and the sub-national levels. These national investments will likely necessitate difficult compromises, but such compacts will serve as enabling environments, in which partners ensure accountability as well as monitor and evaluate progress on the ground.

Establish an evolved definition of development that equalizes people and nature. Moving beyond the Human Development Index, this definition places ecosystems and human development needs as one. Further such definition notes that we can’t have peace without development and development without peace.