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ECO-Syria: Exploring Conflict-Environment Interactions for Sustainable Development and Conservation

Funding agency: MECW. Duration: 2023-2026

There is a heated debate –both scholarly and non-scholarly– about the links between the climate change that manifested through a prolonged drought in Syria after 2005, the political-unrest-turned-into-civil-war after 2011, and migration. However, not enough attention has been paid to the differentiated effects of the conflict-environment interactions for different minority groups within the country.

Addressing this gap, this research project builds on the political ecology approach that frames environmental and ecological changes as an outcome of political processes and empirically focuses on Syria with putting particular attention on the Kurdish-dominated Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES, used interchangeably with Rojava).

Over a decade has passed since the onset of the Syrian conflict, which continues to have dire humanitarian consequences in the region. Syria, with a population of approximately 17 million, ranks among low-income countries, with a gross national income per capita below $1000. Despite existing discussions on the connections between climate change, conflict, and migration in the Syrian context, insufficient attention has been given to the distinct effects of the conflict-environment nexus on various groups within Syria, particularly the Kurds in the north and east. These regions, collectively known as Rojava, have been implementing an ecological model under the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES).

Over the course of three years, the interdisciplinary research team at Lund University will employ a variety of methods, including satellite imagery analysis, archival fieldwork, and elite interviews, to generate scientific knowledge and policy recommendations for sustainable development and environmental democracy in Rojava, and potential relevance and application to Syria at large.


The project aims to maintain a dual focus on both academic/scientific inquiry and policy relevance. In line with our purpose, this interdisciplinary research project aims to answer two key questions:

  1. How do internal conflict and cross-border hostilities impact Rojava differently from other parts of Syria in terms of conflict and environment nexus?
  2. What role could regional and national actors in post-conflict Syria play in fostering sustainable development and environmental democracy?

Research Team

Pinar Dinc, CMES Researcher and Senior Lecturer at the Department of Political Science

pinar [dot] dinc [at] svet [dot] lu [dot] se

Mo Hamza, CMES Researcher and Professor at the Division of Risk Management and Societal Safety (Department of Building and Environmental Technology)

mo [dot] hamza [at] risk [dot] lth [dot] se

Maria Andrea Nardi, CMES Researcher and Senior Lecturer at the Department of Human Geography

maria_andrea [dot] nardi [at] keg [dot] lu [dot] se

Lina Eklund, CMES Researcher and Associate Senior Lecturer at the Department of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science

lina [dot] eklund [at] nateko [dot] lu [dot] se

Hakim Abdi, Researcher at CMES and the Centre for Environmental and Climate Science (CEC)

hakim [dot] abdi [at] cec [dot] lu [dot] se

A photo of a poster describing the project with text and photos. By clicking on the document link to the right of the poster on the webpage you will open the poster as an accessible PDF file.

Poster as Accessible PDF

Click on this link to view the poster as an accessible PDF: