The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) launched a new flagship report at an event titled “Environment of Peace: Security in a New Era of Risk” in Geneva, Switzerland.

On 28 October 2022, SIPRI presented its new flagship report, Environment of Peace, at an event titled “Environment of Peace: Security in a New Era of Risk.” The event brought a stellar group of scholars and leaders to Geneva, Switzerland, and included presentations by H.E. Margot Wallström, former Minister of Sweden, EU Environment Commissioner and Chair of the report’s High-Level Advisory Panel, and University of Geneva professor and MRI Chair Jörg Balsiger, who served on the Panel as the environmental governance expert nominated by the Swiss government.

The event was organized by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute together with the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs Permanent Mission of Sweden to UNOG and was supported by the Geneva Centre for Security Policy as well as the University of Geneva.

The world faces a toxic mix of intertwined environmental crises, a darkening security horizon, and the failure of policy to address the novel, intertwined risks emerging. SIPRI’s report Environment of Peace, which involved 30 researchers worldwide, explores how we can secure peace in this new era of compound, complex threats.

Watch the video recording of the “Environment of Peace: Security in a New Era of Risk”  event.


Two Crises, One Powerful Message

In his presentation, Balsiger noted how the report delivers a powerful message about the acceleration of dynamics linking two crises that are too often treated separately, environmental degradation and human insecurity. He also drew connections between the report and its launch in the city of Geneva, a global hub for environmental governance and human rights.

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Pictured above: H.E. Margot Wallström, former Minister of Sweden and EU Environment Commissioner, Prof. Jörg Balsiger, University of Geneva and MRI Chair, Sonia Peña Moreno, IUCN, Cristina Hoyos, DCAF, and Natasha Carmi, Geneva Water Hub.

Balsiger concluded his presentation with three key messages. First, the knowledge presented in the Environment of Peace cannot be taken for granted - there is a continuous and regular need to bring such knowledge to new generations of policymakers, civil society leaders, and activists as well as scientists and students. Second, the new era of risk identified in the report suggests the need for fundamental transformations, not just more of the same. Last, but not least, the report is a strong encouragement to think hard and fast about received wisdoms, many of which may become buzzwords, including in Geneva.

“Yes, we need adaptability, but it must not be an excuse for postponing decisions. Yes, we need cooperation, but this should not be an excuse for not doing alone what is known to be beneficial. Yes, there is a need to strengthen resilience, but it must never be an excuse for reactionary agendas or isolationism under the banner of self-sufficiency,” said Balsiger.


An Environment of Peace in Mountains

In the context of mountains, environmental determinism has sparked the notion that mountains breed violence, where the omnipotence of topography becomes the trope that ultimately explains everything, including ethnic diversity and social fragmentation. But as Balsiger stressed in his review of the book No Friends But the Mountains, “mountains don’t cause violence, people do!”

The Environment of Peace report, instead, explores how environmental degradation stokes the fires of insecurity and conflict. Without restoring the health of the natural environment and halting climate change, these fires will continue.

The principles and recommendations outlined in the report pave a new path for navigating this new era of risk. Creating an environment of peace for individuals, communities, and countries - in mountains and beyond - means acting with foresight, wisdom, and cooperation, without delay.

Further Reading and Resources

View the video recording and photos from the “Environment of Peace: Security in a New Era of Risk” event.

View the Environment of Peace Technical Workshop (part of Geneva Peace Week)

Visit the Environment of Peace report website and download the full report

Read the SIPRI press release

View the Environment of Peace: Security in a New Era of Risk trailer video 

Read [Review of:] No friends but the mountains: Dispatches from the world's violent highlands

Suggested citation: Black, R., Busby, J., Dabelko, G.D., de Coning, C., Maalim, H., McAllister, C., Ndiloseh, M., Smith, D., Alvarado, J., Barnhoorn, A., Bell, N., Bell-Moran, D., Broek, E., Eberlein, A., Eklöw, K., Faller, J., Gadnert, A., Hegazi, F., Kim, K., Krampe, F., Michel, D., Pattison, C., Ray, C., Remling, E., Salas Alfaro, E., Smith, E. and Staudenmann, J., Environment of Peace: Security in a New Era of Risk (SIPRI: Stockholm, 2022),

Cover and article images courtesy of SIPRI

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