Earth Day 2021 Teach-In: John Ciorciari

April 22, 2021 0:03:20
Kaltura Video

Hear from a diverse range of Ford School professors on how their fields of policy intersect with the environment.


Happy Earth Day.

I'm John Ciorciari and
I teach mostly about

international politics and policy

here at the Ford School.

And environmental issues
come up often in my work.

I'm looking at a variety of

post-conflict or
fragile states and how

interventions can help or

hurt in the process toward
building a lasting peace.

And very often,
environmental management or

mismanagement is a key
factor in that process.

A country I work a lot on

is Cambodia and so I'll use
that as an example of a few

of the ways that I think the
environment is so relevant

to the study of

international politics
and peace-building.

In that country, you have a
government in power

that has moved in

a more authoritarian direction
in recent years and has

also gotten closer and
closer to, to China.

In spring it's
national development.

And the mode of development
that Cambodia is

chosen is one that has a lot

of adverse environmental effects.

In particular,
large-scale investment

and hydro power along
the Mekong river.

Cultivation of huge
tracts of land for

palm oil plantations and

deforestation of large areas

of the Northwest near
the Thai border.

And each of those three areas

of economic activity
have resulted

in considerable environmental
harms that have

affected nearby communities and

in the downstream
parts of the Mekong,

where people have relied on

the flow of that river
for generations,

for their livelihoods,
for fishing.

And, and now find that

the river's course
is altered and that

their livelihoods are destroyed

and sometimes they have to

move away to, to other places.

In the palm oil context

where some of that
chemical runoff and,

and just the taking
of land itself

displaces communities that
have lived there for,

for hundreds of years.

And in the case of deforestation,

you have the destruction
of flora and

fauna and in ways
that again, have,

have caused a real hardship
for communities who lived

in the upland areas of

Cambodia for as long as
anyone can remember,

all of those problems have,

have fed into broad,

popular dissatisfaction
with the government,

which in turn has
meant that they haven't been as

willing to vote for
the incumbent regime.

And the incumbent regime seeing

less need for, sorry,
seeing less prospect,

they would win at the
polls as resorted more to,

to bribery and
violence to be able

to maintain its
position and power.

And so a peace process
that's existed in

Cambodia for about a
quarter of a century is under

serious challenge in
no small part because

of environmental issues and

the human consequences thereof.

So I'm really excited about

the initiative that you
have here for Earth Day and to

look at all of the
intersections that

the environment has
across policy domains.

I look forward to
speaking with any of you

who are interested
about this topic.

And again, wish you a happy Earth Day.