Wednesday, March 16th, 2016
IPD student and IPSS fellow Danny Pavitt is currently in the field working as an Environmental Peacebuilding Intern at Conservation International. Conservation International (CI) has been around for 30 years and was established with a vision that included not only the conservation of nature, but also the well-being of humans in relation to nature. As Danny puts it, the overarching mission of CI is to promote healthy ecosystems globally and improve human well-being (ensuring a healthy, productive planet for everybody).
At CI, Danny is one of four staff members working in the Peace and Development Partnerships department of the Policy Center. Environmental peacebuilding is at the intersection of capacity development, conflict resolution, and environmental conservation. One of the central goals of the Environmental Peacebuilding Department is to raise awareness about the interconnectedness of conservation and peacebuilding. Environmental conservation is not impossible in conflict areas; you can actually use environmental peacebuilding to mitigate conflict. Promoting healthy ecosystems and mitigating conflict are not mutually exclusive and in fact can work more effectively in tandem.
Danny is currently working with his team to develop a training manual for global field staff to help them better incorporate conflict-sensitive programming. The manual will have about 10 modules that are all parts of environmental peacebuilding and will address questions such as: How can we analyze conflict that exists? and How can we tie in different parts of environmental peacebuilding? So far, Danny has completed a Conflict Analysis Module. This module is helps engage local stakeholders in a conversation in order to become as informed as possible about situations of conflict in a given area. The idea is that if you understand the situation, conflict, root causes, and main players, you can implement sustainable conservation programs while being conflict-sensitive.
Danny describes his experience at CI as full of learning. He notes that “it’s been really eye-opening to be in an organization that’s so well-established in what it does and in the field” and has enjoyed collaborating with people who are influential in the environmental conservation world. Since starting at CI, Danny has realized how connected everything is: “It’s no longer just about environmental conservation – you can’t really think about environmental conservation without thinking about gender, equality, capacity development, infrastructural growth, the economy, international development… These things are no longer separate for me and they never will be.”
Danny took a leap of faith after his first semester at MIIS and decided to enroll in the 2015 Summer Peacebuilding Program despite being totally new to the subject matter. This experience opened his eyes to the opportunities out there surrounding environmental peacebuilding. Some of the courses at MIIS that prepared him for his current work include Organizational Sustainability with Professor Ortiz and Human Security and Development with Professor Laurance. Danny encourages current MIIS students to explore different and intriguing things they’re curious about but don’t necessarily have experience in (like the Summer Peacebuilding Program for him). Danny got to his current position by really putting himself out there to explore and understand different parts of international development and to figure out what he didn’t want to do. In his role now, he enjoys what he’s doing so much it doesn’t even feel like work.
For a glimpse into the work of Conservation International, check out their Nature is Speaking advertising campaign.