April 30, 2017  |  

What is the connection between peace and climate change?

This blog was written by dedicated World YMCA volunteer and Resource Group for the Environment member Silke Bolts.

Do you ever think about the connection between peace and climate change? These two topics are highly interrelated so you should!

When we talk about the concept of sustainability, the dimensions of society, environment and economy need to be included. The subject of peace is part of the social dimension while climate change serves for the ecological dimension.

We need to understand that our local actions have global consequences. And our behaviour is only sustainable if we think about all three dimensions at the same time.

Environmental problems lead to social conflicts and vice versa. An example: Unsustainable behaviour, like emitting high carbon emissions, leads to climate change. In consequence, temperatures rise, the number of extreme weather events increases and rain fall patterns shift. Fertile soils lack rainfall and cannot produce crops anymore. Once well-functioning agricultural systems get disturbed an ecological crisis becomes an economic one. Lack of income and food results in social tensions and uprisings evolve. This is the seed of a dangerous conflict.

Another example: Once big rivers or lakes decrease in size due to less rain or the long-term water supply is endangered by degrading mountainous glaciers: water becomes a scarce resource – and water is life. The authority that controls water access has a mighty power. What if, this power is misused? Problems start.

These situations can be tackled in two ways. The YMCA is working both on environmental and peace projects. The RGE’s duty is to promote climate action and to find ways how to build a greener YMCA.

On the other side, YMCA Europe set up a programme, called “Roots for Reconciliation” (RfR). This is a training which empowers young people to analyse conflicts and work in international teams on peace projects. Furthermore it creates a space for learning, exchange and friendship. Anticipating stereotypes and understanding the other’s point of view is the first step for reconciliation. The YMCA aims to bring participants from different countries together and build together a new vision of peace.

Roots for reconciliation

The Peace Work Institute (PWI) has organized for the second time a series of peace work-seminars in different countries. Over the next two years participants from all over Europe will meet and get equipped with knowledge, methods and concepts about peace work. Furthermore skill-training plays an important role as well. Media awareness, critical thinking and digital activism are essential tools these days for successful projects. Best practice sharing multiplies the benefit of outstanding work and complements the schedule.

The current cohort started in April 2017, will gather again for another seminar in November 2017 and will implement a project during the coming year.

More information is available at rfr.ymcaeurope.com .

Silke Bölts (participant)


Mike Roberts
Mike Roberts
There are few professions where you get to make a real difference, impacting individuals, families and communities on a global scale. The YMCA has given me so many opportunities - organizing soccer camps in Haiti, teen leaders programs in Zimbabwe, helping to develop cancer survivor exercise opportunities in America. The Y is so much more.

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