Climate change is increasingly challenging global security and undermining peacebuilding efforts. UN Environment and the European Union have joined forces to address these challenges. With the support of adelphi, they have developed a toolkit on ‘Addressing climate-fragility risks’. This toolkit facilitates the development and implementation of strategies, policies, and projects that seek to build resilience by linking climate change adaptation, peacebuilding, and sustainable livelihoods, focusing on the pilot countries Sudan and Nepal.
We know that climate change is one of the 21st century’s most pervasive global threats to peace and security. It touches all areas of security, peacebuilding and development. Its impacts have already increased the insecurity of vulnerable communities, particularly in fragile and conflict-affected contexts. In these struggling communities, the effects of climate change can adversely affect food security, human mobility, economic growth, and political stability. Negative climate impacts such as water shortages or falling crop yields interact political, social, and economic stresses to compound existing tensions. In turn, violent conflict and political instability leave communities poorer, less resilient, and ill equipped to cope with the consequences of climate change. This vicious cycle can catch and keep countries and communities in a climate-conflict trap of increasing fragility and vulnerability.
To address these challenges, the UN Security Council, the African Union, the G7 and many others have appealed for improved global analysis and strengthened action at the local level. And UN Environment and the European Union are responding to the call, joining forces to create a toolkit that helps crisis- and conflict-affected countries tackle the effects of climate change.
Building on the newest research and lessons learned from the emerging field of climate change and security, the toolkit helps policy-makers and practitioners by linking the conceptual framework with hands-on tools that are easy and ready to use, e.g. a conflict sensitivity checklist, mapping approaches, and conflict analysis tools. It is a key pillar of the four-year project Climate Change and Security (2017-2021). The project is supported by the EU’s Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace, and has been developed in partnership with adelphi. In the two pilot countries, Sudan and Nepal, the project is teaming up with Practical Action for implementation activities at the national and local level.
The toolkit should help local and national decision-makers take a more holistic approach to preventing and resolving conflict: to date, responses to climate change have failed to address the full range of knock-on effects. Most climate change programmes do not address conflict and ignore future conflict impacts, while most peacebuilding programmes do not take climate risks into account. As a result, development organizations frequently design separate programmes for climate change adaptation and peacebuilding, sometimes with conflicting objectives.
We need to move away from these fragmented responses and disconnected approaches need to be overcome. Three entry points are of particular relevance to link climate change adaptation, peacebuilding and sustainable livelihoods:
Several climate security studies have assessed the risks of climate change to security and examined potential foreign policy responses, but the connection between climate change and foreign policy remains underexplored. The new Climate Diplomacy Report of the German Foreign Office takes up the challenge.
Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan are currently engaged in vital talks over the dispute relating to the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Nile River. While non-African actors are increasingly present in the negotiations, the African Union (AU) is playing a marginal role.
Climate change was more central than ever at this year’s Munich Security Conference (MSC), the leading international forum for senior military, security and foreign policy leaders. The release of the inaugural “World Climate and Security Report 2020” (WCSR 2020) by the Expert Group of the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS) should help policymakers take effective 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.