On 29 November in Rabat, adelphi partnered with the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) to hold a regional dialogue on climate change and fragility risks in North Africa and the Sahel.
The event, which took place in the National Superior School of Administration, was convened in the framework of the Climate Diplomacy Initiative (supported by the German Federal Foreign Office). The Government of the Kingdom of Morocco and the 3S Initiative for Africa also contributed to the organisation of the event.
The goal of the regional dialogue was to deepen the understanding of national and regional concerns and priorities and best practices on identifying climate change-related security risks, as well as to discuss potential strategies and solutions relevant to the North African and Sahelian context.
The event brought together 31 high-level representatives from regional governments, regional and international organisations, including the 3S Initiative, G5 Sahel, and the African Union, as well as European partners. The discussions underscored that there is an urgent need for local and national action, but also for international recognition and support for integrated responses.
In North Africa and the Sahel, the fast changing climate interacts particularly with challenges such as population growth, land and water management issues, limited opportunities for livelihood diversification, and high youth unemployment rates to create unique challenges for people and countries. The impacts of climate change can exacerbate ongoing conflicts between herders and farmers and intensify water shortages that might worsen tensions over transboundary water sources, among others.
adelphi Senior Project Manager Dr Beatrice Mosello presented the Lake Chad climate-fragility risk assessment, while Project Manager Dr Adrien Detges introduced the Climate Security Expert Network (CSEN) ’s risk brief on North Africa and the Sahel. Mohamed Doubi Kadmiri, Advisor to the Moroccoan Head of Government, Louise Baker, Unit Coordinator for External Relations, Policy and Advocacy at UNCCD, as well as Achim Schkade, Head of Climate and Environmental Foreign Policy at the German Federal Foreign Office gave welcome remarks. The dialogue was preceded by a training on climate-fragility risks for local development experts, Government staff and members of NGOs.
Three major areas for action emerged from the discussions at the Regional Dialogue:
1) Holistic climate-fragility risk assessments need to be carried out and supported by early warning systems. Given the non-linear and complex relations between climate change and conflict, participants underlined the need for regionally specific assessments. An extended knowledge base can help secure the broad recognition of climate-fragility risks and serves as an invaluable starting point for action on the ground.
2) The recognition of climate impacts on security needs to result in local and national action, supported by international and regional actors. Integrated responses to climate-fragility are the most effective way of securing a lasting impact. Furthermore, the role of climate impacts on security needs to be integrated into the mandate of international organisations, replicated across international and regional institutions on a structural level – as done at the UN through the Climate Security Mechanism – and acted on locally, through partners such as the 3S Initiative and others.
3) Building resilience in the region requires greater investments into capacity-building. Financial resources play a central role in the hurdles that North African and Sahelian countries face in addressing climate-fragility risks. As a result of ongoing conflict, G5 Sahel countries still dedicate large parts of their budget to defence expenditure; this severely hampers the capabilities of states and regional organisations to implement measures addressing human security challenges. Participants argued for the need to place greater emphasis on development and livelihood resilience.
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