Transboundry Peace Parks: Conservation, Collaboration and National Security
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In 2004, the Nobel Peace prize was awarded to a Kenyan activist who is a leader in Africa’s anti-corruption, environmental, and women’s movement. In doing so, the Nobel Committee redefined the concept of peace to emphasize the environment, democracy building and human rights, and acknowledged the work of those within civil society who advocate for social change. Though the decision to honour an environmentalist with the world’s top Peace Prize was a controversial one, the notion that conservation initiatives can be used to promote peace and security is not a new one. Seven years earlier, Anton Rupert, HRH Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, and Nelson Mandela founded the Peace Parks Foundation, with the mandate of fostering the establishment of transfrontier conservation areas. While the primary intention of the Peace Parks is to remove artificial boundaries to allow the free migration of animals and humans within the area, they are also set up to encourage economic development, tourism and goodwill between countries that share a border. Peace Parks scale up biodiversity conservation in order to protect what otherwise would be fragmented ecosystems in order to maintain viable populations of species. In doing so, these initiatives also promote cooperation and the sustainable use of natural resources in politically divided ecosystems. This paper will explore the evolution of the world’s first Peace Park, the Waterton- Glacier International Peace Park. This remarkable park was created in the 1930s, but what is of particular interest is that as the so-called “Crown of the Continent” it is also the centre of a far larger transborder initiative, the Yellowstone to Yukon (Y2Y) conservation movement. The Y2Y concept sees the establishment of a 1.2 million square kilometer ecoregion that would stretch from west-central Wyoming to northern Yukon and includes four American states, 2 Canadian provinces and 1 Canadian territory. It is notable that both the original Peace Park and the Y2Y vision emanated from civil society: the rotary clubs in Alberta and Montana in the case of the Peace Park and environmental organizations in the case of Y2Y. The Y2Y transborder network now claims over 800 groups, institutions, foundations and individuals as members. Placed in the context of the larger international movement toward linking conservation to peace and security initiatives, this case study illustrates the increasing importance of civil society in the development of public policy, and, as is the case in many environmental initiatives, the increasing importance of transborder linkages amongst groups within civil society in promoting a particular policy agenda.