For the past three decades, Geoff has focused on the links among environment, peace, and security. Through collaborative applied research, policy dialogue facilitation, and policy advising, Geoff has had the good fortune to collaborate with many of the leading scholars and practitioners in the United States and around the world. His time working at the Council on Foreign Relations, University of Maryland, Woodrow Wilson Center, and now Ohio University have enabled him to engage with the pressing questions as the topics evolved from redefining security, environment and conflict, environmental peacebuilding, and climate and security. Long-time partners at U.S. Agency for International Development, the UN Environment Programme, adelphi research in Berlin, Duke University, University of Maryland, University of California, Irvine, University of Massachsetts, Boston, University of Melbourne, Uppsala University, the U.S. Army War College, International Peace Park Expeditions, the Environmental Law Institute, and others have made this work fundamentally collaborative. Here are some highlights of some of that work.

  • Environmental Peacebuilding – As a response to the limitations of the environment and conflict debates of the mid 1990s, Ken Conca, and Geoff Dabelko convened a group of applied scholars to turn the conflict question on its head. Can environmental interdependence and multiple scales be a source of confidence-building, trust-building, and most ambitiously, peacebuilding? So began what has become a 20+ year collaborative effort to understand how the long-term necessity to cooperate around environmental issues can be an avenue to engage all along a conflict continuum of prevention, peacemaking, and peacebuilding. The 2002 volume Environmental Peacemaking co-edited with Ken Conca was an initial contribution focusing on rivers and seas. Meanwhile groups on the ground like EcoPeace were innovating. The Wilson Center’s Resilience for Peace Project provided a forum to bring together scholars and practitioners to surface practical lessons for practitioners. Partnering with International Peace Park Expeditions, Ohio University now runs an environmental peacebuilding and sustainability study abroad program in Kosovo, Albania, and Montenegro. Today, Geoff continues to work with this community including through the Environmental Peacebuilding Association and the Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program.
  • Climate and Security – Climate change and security links have been an area for research and policy advising over particularly the last 15 years when climate change pushed its way to the front of environmental security concerns. Geoff served as a lead author for the 5th Assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change where “Human Security” (pdf) was assessed by the IPCC for the first time. Understanding how climate mitigation and adaptation could be done in conflict-affected countries was a focus of the Wilson Center’s Resilience for Peace Project, leading to warnings to avoid “backdraft” dynamics where climate action may create or exacerbate conflict as an unintended ripple effect. More recently Geoff and colleagues at Ohio University and the Wilson Center contributed to the A New Climate for Peace report done for the G7 Foreign Ministers through collaborating with regular partners at adelphi research and International Alert.
  • Environment Science and National Security Communities – For 25 years, Geoff has worked in various capacities at the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program bringing together the worlds of environment and security. This work has continued at Ohio University’s Voinovich School with a 2018-2020 grant from the National Science Foundation’s Office of Integrative Activities. This support has enabled Geoff and colleagues to bring together environmental scientists, practitioners, and security professionals in an effort to create more convergent research opportunities within the traditionally siloed fields of environmental science and national security. A highlight of this effort was a 2018 workshop entitled “Environment, Security, and The U.S. National Security Community” at the National Conservation Training Center.
  • Grey Green Alliance – A new applied research collaboration investigates the synergies between efforts to build climate resilience and efforts to create “Age-Friendly” or “livable” communities for older adults as defined by the World Health Organization. Older adults are identified as a particularly vulnerable group to the impacts of climate change, yet the respective communities have relatively little research or practice collaboration. Working with the Ohio State University College of Social Work, Age-Friendly Columbus/Franklin County, and Ohio University College of Health Sciences and Professions, members of the Dabelko Research Group are developing practical resources and conducting both Ohio-focused and internationally-focused research on potential synergies in a Grey Green Alliance.
  • Global Environmental Politics – Geoff Dabelko and Ken Conca have collaborated on a global environmental politics anthology since the mid-1990s. Now in its 6th edition, Green Planet Blues: Critical Perspectives on Global Environmental Politics (Routledge) was published in September 2019. The volume features underrepresented voices and perspectives in global environmental politics, highlighting the competing paradigms of sustainability, security, and justice.

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