A recurrent critique of the proposition of a causal relation between environmental change and social conflict is that it fails to account for the complexities and dynamics of processes of social-ecological change. In this article, we open the black box of contextual factors that influence the causal pathway from environmental change to social conflict. Firstly, we argue for the consideration of three social factors that influence that pathway: (a) institutions, (b) power, and (c) knowledge. Taking a deductive approach, we ascertain their causal importance in the case of the “mackerel dispute,” an interstate conflict that unfolded after the abrupt and rapid change in distribution of the northeast Atlantic mackerel stock after 2007. We analyze the historical development of the mackerel dispute through process tracing and demonstrate the importance and causal role of the three factors. Secondly, based on our assessment, we argue to increase the diversity of the scope conditions relevant for the environmental change-social conflict nexus. We propose to consider a wider variety of conflicts as outcome of environmental change, high-income regions as an arena for those conflicts, and a wider variety of environmental change, such as alterations in abundance in the context of climate change. Lastly, we discuss how future research on this topic can handle the wider scope conditions and greater case variability.
Research news | 2018-07-10
The World in 2050 initiative launches new report outlining synergies and benefits that render the goals achievable
Educational news | 2018-07-02
LEAP our leadership programme designed for changemakers that want to lead social-ecological transformations to sustainability. Application deadline is 5 August 2018.
Research news | 2018-06-27
Overfishing, fractured international relationships and political conflicts loom as fish migrate more unpredictably because of climate change. Here is how to deal with it
Research news | 2018-06-26
Profit-maximizing approaches are most likely to produce outcomes that harm people or the environment. But it depends on the circumstances whether a sustainable or a safe approach is most suitable, new study argues
General news | 2018-06-20
Will lead a redesign of the organisational structure at the centre
Research news | 2018-06-20
New book chapter looks into the economic, cultural and ecological reasons why some people leave the fisheries and aquaculture sector, and what could be done to reverse the trend