SITES International working group on Conflicts


Conflicts are on the rise worldwide, along with multiple natural and man-made shocks. This working group delves into the complex dynamics between natural and man-made shocks and conflicts across various institutional landscapes. Although the causal relationship may in selected cases go from conflicts to other shocks such as asset destruction and price spikes, the focus of this working group is mostly on the relationship from shocks other than conflicts and the emergence of conflicts. Specifically, this working group activity aims at testing the dependence of various forms of social instability, like social riots, non-state conflicts, and civil conflicts, on climate-induced shocks.

In fact, over the past decade a growing body of empirical literature has explored the climate-conflict nexus, unveiling multiple causal paths. In particular, it is argued that the effects of a changing climate deeply impact on production systems (Creti, Delacote & Leblois, 2021) and socio-economic structures hindering local development (Caruso, Petrarca & Ricciuti, 2016), stimulating human displacement and migration (Maurel & Tuccio, 2016; Withagen, 2014) and increasing the probability of inter-group conflicts (Hegre et al., 2016; Hodler & Raschky, 2014). Within this scenario, weak institutional settings can boost grievances and reinforce multidimensional inequalities, amplifying the negative impacts generated by economic disruptions and, thus, making violence outbreak more likely.

While this plurality of findings supports the urgency of further exploring the nexus, it also fuels criticism about the inconsistency of results (Koubi, 2019). Therefore, the objectives of this working group are the following:

• uncovering different specific pathways linking climate change-induced shocks and various types of social instability;

• identifying the most relevant drivers of these pathways to design effective policies in LDCs, that can help tailoring climate-related and social stability interventions, as well as international assistance interventions from developed countries.

This working group employs a multi-scale analytical approach and examines macro- as well as micro-level interactions:

• Macro analysis: This level of analysis looks at the broader, large-scale impacts of climate change on social instability and violent conflict. It involves examining data and trends at a national or global scale, identifying patterns and relationships between climate variables (like temperature changes, natural disasters) and instances of social unrest or conflict.

• Micro analysis: At this level, the focus narrows down to the individual/household or community level. Micro analysis involves case studies or surveys that explore how individuals or small groups are affected by climate change-induced shocks and how these shocks influence their behavior in terms of conflict and social instability. This level of analysis is crucial for understanding the direct and immediate effects of climate change on people’s lives and their responses to these changes.