Adapting to climate change and strengthening resilience are becoming priorities for the international community – however, they require greater ambition in climate policy. 107 governments and numerous international organisations have endorsed a call for action on raising ambition at the United Nations Climate Change Summit on 23rd September 2019. Following the summit, the Global Commission on Adaptation will begin its Year of Action to meet the climate challenges ahead. The Year of Action is here to accelerate climate adaptation around the world, to improve human well-being and to drive more sustainable economic development and security.
Climate adaptation as an agent for peace and security is identified as one of the driving forces of the Year of Action in the flagship report of the Global Commission on Adaptation, published ahead of the summit. In our work on climate security, we consider the potential role of climate change adaption as a threat minimizer, departing from the observation that climate change increases the frequency and severity of natural disasters, and reduces access to and the availability of resources. The resulting environmental changes have serious negative impacts on human development, peace and security.
From this perspective, a profound understanding of the interplay between climate change, adaptation, vulnerability and crisis prevention is crucial if decision-makers are to design and implement effective adaptation measures that strengthen resilience and promote long-term sustainable development. This is particularly important in developing countries and fragile states, where people already live in precarious conditions. This was also one of the key results of the flagship report A New Climate for Peace, commissioned by the G7 foreign ministers and published back in 2015 by adelphi and partners.
To address the lack of action on climate change adaptation, which often can be observed in conflict prone areas, we have prepared the ‘Guidelines for conflict-sensitive adaptation to climate change’. Published by the German environment Agency (UBA) ahead of the climate summit, the guidelines outline how to design and implement an adaptation project in a fragile or conflict-affected context. Addressing especially planners and project managers, the guide provides tools and methods to ensure that an adaptation project does not exacerbate tensions and, ideally, contributes to peace and stability. So, some food for thought as we enter a Year of Action towards strengthening resilience.
The Kingdom of the Netherlands has contributed $28 million to back FAO's work to boost the resilience of food systems in Somalia, Sudan, and South Sudan - part of a new initiative to scale-up resilience-based development work in countries affected by protracted crises.
A group of five small countries have announced that they will launch negotiations on a new Agreement on Climate Change, Trade and Sustainability, which, if successful, would constitute the first international trade agreement focused solely on climate change and sustainable development. The initiative also breaks new ground by aiming to simultaneously remove barriers for trade in environmental goods and services and crafting binding rules to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies. Small countries can pioneer the development of new trade rules that can help achieve climate goals, but making credible commitments, attracting additional participants, and ensuring transparency will be essential ingredients for long-term success.
Ten years after committing to rationalise and phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, G20 countries still subsidise coal, oil and gas to the tune of around USD 150 billion annually. The process to try to move the G20 forward on this issue has been via peer review of fossil fuel subsidies, but these reviews need to be followed by action. Subsidy reforms could free up resources that could be channeled back into government programmes, which would be necessary to mitigate the impacts of rising energy prices on vulnerable populations and to help smooth reforms, and could also be spent on accelerating a clean energy transition.
A new form of organized crime has recently been emerging in the Amazon: illegal mining. Miners fell trees, use high-grade explosives for blasting soils and dredge riverbeds. But the impacts go beyond environmental damage, bringing with it a slew of other social problems. Peace researcher Adriana Abdenur urges policymakers to improve coordination and argues that diplomacy may help prevent further conflicts, corruption and crime.