The United Nations’ 2030 Agenda sets out global priorities, calling on countries to take “transformative steps which are urgently needed to shift the world onto a sustainable and resilient path”. The Agenda seeks to strengthen universal peace as part of a holistic agenda, bringing together social, environmental, and economic goals for sustainable development. Globally and in our local communities, we face complex challenges of how to address these different facets of sustainability.This historic decision is far reaching, including not least goals to build sustainable peace and take urgent climate action. Climate change is both an ecological and political problem, bringing broad impacts for human societies, including negative consequences for health, infrastructure, and security. These impacts have consequences for peace, affecting dynamics of violent conflict and (re)producing situations of vulnerability (consider for example humanitarian consequences of climate change). Climate change makes it clear that achieving peace entails not only ending violent wars, but also addressing structural violence – systemic harms perpetrated by situations of vulnerability or privilege shaped by societal power structures.

In a recent article published in Sustainability Science, I explore how climate action and peace can be advanced simultaneously. Finding an answer, I suggest, lies in making space to imagine alternatives to our current sustainability approach: transitioning to a different economic system that focuses on people rather than profit, foregrounding broad understandings of peace, and pursuing societal change. Seeds of such change, lie with degrowth, activities and policies that recenter the economy on ecological and human well-being. Examples of degrowth provide a starting point for considering concrete steps toward tackling structural violence, fostering climate resilience, and advancing peace.

Peace, climate, and the economy

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