Feature Story | 11-Jul-2022

Geoff Dabelko sees opportunity and collaboration in complex nature of climate crises

Ohio University professor has been meeting with international and environmental ministers and United Nations diplomats this summer.

Ohio University

Ohio University Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Service professor Geoff Dabelko has spent most of his summer on the road collaborating with international and environmental ministers and United Nations diplomats to help address, understand, and respond to climate and security crises that are happening globally.

He’s been busy helping launch the new Environment of Peace: Security in a New Era of Risk report, first at the Stockholm Forum on Peace and Development and then at the United Nations Stockholm+50 conference. At Stockholm+50, Dabelko chaired a panel with the foreign ministers of Sweden and Bangladesh and prominent non-governmental organization (NGO) leaders reacting to the report published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

“This collaboration with SIPRI has enabled me to build upon previous work on the concept of ‘backdraft’ or the conflict potential of how we proactively respond to climate change,” Dabelko, professor for the Master of Sustainability, Security, and Resilience online program in the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Service, said. “This neglected area for potential conflict is a challenge that few want to embrace because it appears to make the needed green energy and conservation transitions even more difficult. Yet, we demonstrate the necessity for working toward a just and peaceful transition that acknowledges these potential pitfalls of climate response.”

Dabelko and four other international authors subsequently traveled to New York for three presentations at the United Nations headquarters before continuing on to Washington, D.C., for sessions at the World Bank, the Woodrow Wilson Center, and the U.S. Agency for International Development. The Wilson Center discussion constituted a homecoming for Dabelko, who served 15 years as director of its Environmental Change and Security Program before coming to Ohio University in 2012. He continues as a senior advisor to the Wilson Center program and its award-winning New Security Beat

“Geoff’s work is an example of how the Voinovich School’s environmental research and scholarship can have far-reaching global impact,” Mark Weinberg, dean of the Voinovich School, said. “The work we continue to do in Ohio lends important perspective to complex environmental questions and challenges.”

Dabelko led the writing team for the Ensuring a Just and Peaceful Transition section of the “Environment of Peace” report. Ohio University students Daniel Bell-Moran (Master of Science in Environmental Studies) and Alexis Eberlein (Voinovich Scholar and Honors Tutorial College Political Science major) also contributed research and writing as authors of the report.

“It is difficult for policymakers of all stripes to juggle multiple crises,” Dabelko said. “But their inseparable nature also provides opportunities to make investments that address immediate and long-term threats. Through the Environment of Peace initiative, we demonstrate the interconnections between the multiple security and climate crises we face as well as the imperative to utilize cooperation to tackle them in tandem.”

Dabelko’s research focuses on climate change and security, environment and foreign policy, water conflict and cooperation, global environmental politics, and environmental peacebuilding. In addition to his position as professor, he is also associate dean of the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Service and co-directs the Ohio University National Capital Internship Program and the annual Environmental Peacebuilding and Sustainability study abroad program in the Balkans.

Dabelko is also a member of the United Nations Environment Programme's Expert Advisory Group on Environment, Conflict, and Peacebuilding, a board member at Population Research Bureau, and an advisory board member of Screenscope's "Journey to Planet Earth" PBS documentary initiative. He is currently coauthoring the international chapter for the fifth Congressionally mandated U.S. National Climate Assessment. Dabelko has a Ph.D. in government and politics from the University of Maryland, College Park and an AB in political science from Duke University.

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