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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Peace and the environment at the crossroads: Elections in a conflict-troubled biodiversity hotspot

Salazar, Alejandro; Sanchez, Adriana; Dukes, Jeffrey S.; Salazar, Juan F.; Clerici, Nicola; Lasso, Eloisa; Sanchez-Pacheco, Santiago J.; Rendon, Angela M.; Villegas, Juan C.; Sierra, Carlos A.; Poveda, German; Quesada, Benjamin; Uribe, Maria R.; Rodriguez-Buritica, Susana; Ungar, Paula; Pulido-Santacruz, Paola; Ruiz-Morato, Natalia; Arias, Paola A.


In democracies around the world, societies have demonstrated that elections can have major consequences for the environment. In Colombia, the 2022 presidential elections will take place at a time when progress towards peace has stalled and socioeconomic, security, and environmental conditions have deteriorated. The recent declines in these conditions largely coincide with the change of government after the 2018 elections, and the associated rise to power of a party that boycotted the peace negotiations from the beginning. These indicators suggest that 2018 marked the end of a decade of improvements in safety, wealth, and equality-societal factors that can interact with the environment in multiple ways. A spike in assassinations of land and environmental defenders in 2019 and 2020 made Colombia one of the most dangerous places in the world for environmentalists. With the 2022 presidential election, Colombians will once again decide who will govern the country and what new social, economic, and environmental policies will be implemented. In preparation for elections like this, we believe that it is important for scientists with relevant backgrounds to highlight relationships between political events and the environment, to enrich the political debate, help prioritize public resources, and inform policymaking. Here, we provide a multidisciplinary analysis of different socioeconomic and environmental trends that can help inform the public and decision-makers. We intend for this analysis to be useful not only in Colombia, but also to other societies under similar situations, managing biodiversity-rich ecosystems in sociopolitical environments of increasing violence, poverty, and inequality.


Colombia; Peace; Poverty; Inequality; Elections; Climate change

Published in

Environmental Science and Policy
2022, volume: 135, pages: 77-85

Authors' information

Salazar, Alejandro
Agricultural University of Iceland (LBHI)
Sanchez, Adriana
Universidad del Rosario
Dukes, Jeffrey S.
Purdue University
Salazar, Juan F.
Universidad de Antioquia
Clerici, Nicola
Universidad del Rosario
Lasso, Eloisa
University of the Andes Colombia
Sanchez-Pacheco, Santiago J.
Universidad Nacional de Colombia
Rendon, Angela M.
Universidad de Antioquia
Villegas, Juan C.
Universidad de Antioquia
Sierra, Carlos A. (Sierra, Carlos)
Max Planck Society
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
Poveda, German
Universidad Nacional de Colombia
Quesada, Benjamin
Universidad del Rosario
Uribe, Maria R.
University of California Irvine
Rodríguez-Buriticá, Susana
Fdn Biodiversa Colombia
Ungar, Paula
No organisation
Pulido-Santacruz, Paola
No organisation
Ruiz-Morato, Natalia
University of Gottingen
Arias, Paola A.
Purdue University West Lafayette Campus

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG15 Life on land
SDG1 End poverty in all its forms everywhere
SDG16 Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

UKÄ Subject classification

Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Environmental Sciences

Publication Identifiers


URI (permanent link to this page)