Beyond scarcity: rethinking water, climate change and conflict in the Sudans

Selby, Jan and Hoffmann, Clemens (2014) Beyond scarcity: rethinking water, climate change and conflict in the Sudans. Global Environmental Change, 29. pp. 360-370. ISSN 0959-3780

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Abstract

This article develops a new framework for understanding environment-conflict relations, on both theoretical grounds and through a qualitative historical analysis of the links between water and conflict in the states of Sudan and South Sudan. Theoretically, the article critiques the dominant emphases on ‘scarcity’, ‘state failure’ and ‘under-development’ within discussions of environmental security, and proposes an alternative model of environment-conflict relations centring on resource abundance and globally-embedded processes of state-building and development. Empirically, it examines three claimed (or possible) linkages between water and conflict in the Sudans: over trans-boundary waters of the Nile; over the links between internal resource scarcities and civil conflict; and over the internal conflict impacts of water abundance and development. We find that there exists only limited evidence in support of the first two of these linkages, but plentiful evidence that water abundance, and state-directed processes of economic development and internal colonisation relating to water, have had violent consequences. We conclude that analysts and policymakers should pay more attention to the impacts of resource abundance, militarised state power and global political economic forces in their assessments of the potential conflict impacts of environmental and especially climate change.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Water; Conflict; Climate change; Scarcity; Sudan
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > International Relations
Subjects: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Depositing User: Jayne Paulin
Date Deposited: 20 Jan 2015 12:18
Last Modified: 20 Jan 2015 12:18
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/52268
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