Climate change adaptation in the context of conflict: Insights from Myanmar

Marianne Mosberg

Event details

PSC Seminar Series

Date & time

Tuesday 28 March 2023


Boardroom 2.54, level 2, Hedley Bull Building


Marianne Mosberg


Maxine McArthur

It is increasingly recognized that adaptation policies and projects are being implemented in conflict-affected contexts around the world, as people living in these areas are particularly vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change. However, critical adaptation scholars argue that these adaptation efforts tend to reinforce inequitable power relations and social injustices, and that adaptation is itself a political process. The question then arises: what happens when the politics of adaptation unfold in a conflict-affected context?

In this presentation, insights will be shared from PhD research on the politics of adaptation in the context of a protracted armed conflict in Myanmar/Burma. The focus is on the ‘Karen revolution’ in southeastern Myanmar, which is often referred to as the longest-running civil war in the world. The aim of this research project is to understand how adaptation processes interacted with existing political contestations and drivers of conflict during the ceasefire and political reforms period of the late 2010s. To answer this question, insights from 150 semi-structured and life story narrative interviews conducted during multi-sited fieldwork in Myanmar in 2018 and 2019, including in conflict-affected areas of Karen state and Tanintharyi region, were drawn upon and combined with critical policy analysis. This research contributes to advancing our understanding of the adaptation-conflict nexus and highlights the need for placing justice and equity concerns at the heart of adaptation processes to avoid exacerbating existing conflicts or creating new ones.

Marianne Mosberg is a PhD candidate at the Department of International Environment and Development Studies at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) in Ås, Norway, and she is currently a Visiting Fellow at the Department of Political and Social Change and the Myanmar Research Center at ANU.

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