In January 2020, the German Federal Foreign Office launched Green Central Asia, a regional initiative on climate and security in Central Asia and Afghanistan. The aim of the initiative is to support a dialogue in the region on climate change and associated risks in order to foster regional integration between the six countries involved.
In addition, Green Central Asia will create better access to information and risk analyses, enabling countries to more accurately assess the impact of climate change and take preventive measures. At the same time, dialogues and workshops will increase decision-makers’ abilities to adequately address climate-change related security risks at the national and regional levels. Scientific collaboration will support the expansion of national expertise, with the aim of identifying adequate solutions to the challenges posed by climate change. A high-level political dialogue on the nexus between climate change and security, as relevant to foreign policy, will actively support the implementation of Green Central Asia.
On 28 January 2020, the German Federal Foreign Office held a conference in Berlin to mark the launch of the initiative. The Conference was opened by Foreign Minister of the Federal Republic of Germany, H.E. Mr Heiko Maas, and the High Representative of the European Union, H.E. Mr Josep Borrell (speeches from the conference are available here.) It brought together the foreign ministers of the Central Asian states and Afghanistan, as well as more than 250 participants from governments, international organisations, the private sector, civil society, and the scientific community to discuss the climate and security challenges facing Central Asian countries and Afghanistan—and how the Green Central Asia initiative can contribute to addressing them.
While the discussions touched on a wide range of issues, some key messages stood out. Central Asia and Afghanistan are hot spots where climate change threatens to result in severe economic, development and environmental losses. Since these risks know no borders, regional cooperation and a common regional strategy based on mutual trust is essential. Germany and the EU have a long history of working together with Central Asia and Afghanistan, so the new initiative should build on both these relationships and the work that stakeholders are already doing on the ground in the region.
During the conference, Germany, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan and Afghanistan signed a Joint Declaration of Intent on cooperation in the field of climate and security in Central Asia and Afghanistan within the framework of Green Central Asia. Germany is working with the Central Asian states, Afghanistan, the EU and other relevant actors to put together an action plan that will transform some of the suggestions and proposals made during the conference into concrete action.
The mission of the Munich Security Conference is to “address the world’s most pressing security concerns”. These days, that means climate security: climate change is the ultimate threat multiplier, and anyone discussing food security, political instability, migration, or competition over resources should be aware of the climate change pressures that are so often at the root of security problems.
The European Green Deal has made the environment and climate change the focus of EU action. Indeed, climate change impacts are already increasing the pressure on states and societies; however, it is not yet clear how the EU can engage on climate security and environmental peacemaking. In this light, and in the run-up to the German EU Council Presidency, adelphi and its partners are organising a roundtable series on “Climate, environment, peace: Priorities for EU external action in the decade ahead”.
Climate change will shift key coordinates of foreign policy in the coming years and decades. Even now, climate policy is more than just environment policy; it has long since arrived at the centre of foreign policy. The German Foreign Office recently released a report on climate diplomacy recognizing the biggest challenges to security posed by climate change and highlighting fields of action for strengthening international climate diplomacy.
A high-level ministerial conference in Berlin is looking at the impact of climate change on regional security in Central Asia. The aim is to foster stronger regional cooperation, improve the exchange of information and form connections with academia and civil society.