In a commanding speech at Old Dominion University this week, Secretary Kerry announced a dramatic step toward integrating climate and security into U.S. foreign policy. In Norfolk, Virginia, home to the world’s largest naval station, Kerry said the State Department is creating a new “task force of senior government officials to determine how best to integrate climate and security analysis into overall foreign policy planning and priorities.”
The Defense Department and military leaders have been on the frontlines of understanding the security impacts of climate change, from sea-level rise threatening military installations like those at Norfolk to the competing demands of responding to humanitarian crises caused by extreme weather events.
“Just as the Pentagon has begun to view our military planning through a climate lens, ultimately, we have to integrate climate considerations into every aspect of our foreign policy, from development and humanitarian aid to peacebuilding and diplomacy,” Kerry said. “And that starts with getting a better understanding of the complex links between climate change and national security.”
Extreme weather events such as droughts and floods are expected to become more severe under future climate conditions. This implies a concern for policymakers in national and international security.
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.