In May 2018, the Brazilian Institute for Climate and Society and the German Embassy in Brazil hosted an event on international climate and security in Rio de Janeiro. The meeting, joined by experts from the public sector, civil society and international think tanks, reflects Latin America’s increased interest in the international dimension of climate fragility risks.
Latin America is no stranger to the security implications of climate change. Natural disasters and resource scarcity in the region’s arid zones have driven populations to move and shaped the continent’s urban centres for decades, leading to resource depletion and aggravating urban fragility. But the continent is now also starting to pick up on the global dimension of climate security, e.g. geopolitical impacts, and is looking into how to prepare for a changing international scenario.
On 18 May 2018, the Institute for Climate and Society hosted an event on International Climate and Security in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where adelphi’s Alexander Carius highlighted climate impacts as a stress multiplier with high conflict-inducing potential. He drew attention to the Lake Chad situation and stressed how this climate security hotspot is crucial for understanding and addressing global security threats arising from regional climatic pressures.
In his intervention, Carius addressed how climate impacts as well as adaptation strategies might influence regional power relations and fundamentally change the global geopolitical scenario. “What will happen if Germany meets its target of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 and reduces its dependency on Russian oil and gas?” questioned Carius, as an example of how far-reaching the consequences of international climate governance can be. He also emphasized the need to prepare cities for the inevitable strain on infrastructure that will arise from growing climate migration to urban centres, a well-known problem in the Latin American continent.
The event is part of the Sustainable Future Dialogues initiative and gathered experts and academics from the German Embassy in Brazil, the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio), the United Nations Population Fund Brazil (UNFPA Brazil), the Fondación Futuro Latinoamericano (FFLA), the Center for Climate & Security, the Climate Change Division of the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DCLIMA), the Brazilian Defence Ministry, the International Institute for Sustainability (IIS) and Conectas Human Rights.
A major challenge in the field of environmental peacebuilding is showing the impact of its initiatives. Questions emerge, such as "Which dimensions of post-conflict peacebuilding are more likely to be affected by natural resource management projects?". Although quantitative studies assess the relation between natural resource management programmes and conflict risks, there is less research on what the specific mechanisms involved in implementing projects designed for environmental peacebuilding are.
Chatham House's International Affairs Journal has just released a special issue focused on environmental peacebuilding. adelphi Managing Director Alexander Carius, alongside Tobias Ide, Carl Bruch, Ken Conca, Geoffrey Dabelko, Richard Matthew and Erika Weinthal, introduces the special issue giving particular emphasis on environmental opportunities for building and sustaining peace.
A lack of targeted policies to manage climate migration in South Asia is aggravating the vulnerabilities of various communities in the region. International and regional cooperation and strategy on climate action (broadly) and climate migration (specifically) is the need of the hour.
The United States is at a critical juncture in its future climate policy directions. Biden’s electoral victory and the appointment of former Secretary of State John Kerry as special envoy present opportunities, yet America remains deeply divided. By engaging in transatlantic climate cooperation not only with allies, but also sceptical parts of society, Europe can help drive the climate conversation forward.