Isolated peripheries, sites of conflict, exclusionary zones – but also the bustling corridors of travel, trade, migration, knowledge exchange and political alliance. Borderlands are all these; and ideally, they can be sites of innovation, shared prosperity, and balanced human-nature relations. The research explores both theoretical and practical questions associated with the institutions, policies and actors that can transform borders from locations of antagonism, exclusion and environmental disruption to places of cooperation, inclusion, ecological integrity and, ultimately, peace. The purpose of the research is to generate new knowledge and a more integrated understanding of the development-environment-peace nexus in borders and borderlands.
The Research Issue in Context
Across the world, there are nearly 1,400 land and maritime borders. These delimit authority and ownership, establish defensive lines, and signify difference between “us” and “them”. In many cases the socio-economic and physical conditions in borderland areas may be different from those of the sovereign states sharing those boundaries, and they may function as entities in their own right. Borderlands may be sites of inter-country conflict that disrupts the lives, social fabric, economies and natural environments of their inhabitants and those outside as well.
While (in the name of national security) many countries’ border defence policies override those protecting the environment, the number of people crossing borders due to climate change, environmental degradation and natural disasters is growing. Similarly, drug trafficking or illegal migration tend to be driven by underlying inequalities where borders separate wealth from poverty. The number of countries building walls and securing borders to prevent people from moving is increasing – yet such a security or self-protection approach that seeks to control symptoms rather than tackling root causes, whether environmental degradation or inequalities across multiple dimensions, is often futile.
People in borders and borderlands are at great risk of being left behind for numerous reasons, and thus they require particular attention in the context of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. The research explores both theoretical and practical questions associated with the institutions, policies and actors that can transform borders from locations of antagonism, exclusion and environmental disruption to places of cooperation, inclusion, ecological integrity and, ultimately, peace.
Project Objectives, Approach and Method
The project has the following objectives.
- Facilitate the exchange and co-production of knowledge and experiences on development, environmental protection and peace-making in borders and borderlands.
- Contribute to setting an agenda for an integrated and transformative approach to borders and borderlands.
- Deepen understanding and enrich discussions around the dynamics and synergies between development, environment and peace in borders and borderlands.
- Help policy decision makers and practitioners imagine and design development cooperation programmes and projects that respond to the specificities of borders and borderlands.
This is a transdisciplinary research inquiry that identifies and explores ways to integrate environmental protection, ecological well-being, sustainable production, exchange and consumption, as well as the capability enhancement of all, into the peace by peaceful means approach. Special attention is given to the role of women in peacebuilding.
The project uses mixed methods, combining secondary research (project documents and background materials) and primary research (survey collection of both quantitative and qualitative data as well as interviews with key stakeholders).
Case studies are selected to reflect diversity in terms of geography, culture, history, and political systems. In addition to incorporating gender as a key lens of analysis, the research has case studies specifically dealing with women and girls in borders and borderlands.
Through comparative analysis of the case studies, lessons are drawn out on the success or difficulties of implementing integrated approaches, and opportunities and challenges are identified for policies and practices that integrate the development, environment and peace dimensions in borderlands. These findings inform the guidelines for policy and practice that are a key output of the project.
Outputs and Activities
- Publication of the case studies
- Publication of guidelines, including monitoring and evaluation tools, for use by policy decision makers and practitioners fostering policies and institutional environments for an integrated approach to DEEPEN in borders and borderlands
- Establishment and meetings of a UN–Aid Agencies Working Group on Borderlands
- International conference
The project is funded by the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA).