Tensions in the South China Sea increased last April when a Chinese coast guard ship sank a Vietnamese fishing boat near the Paracel Islands—a fiercely disputed territory in the South China Sea. Disputes over island territories in the region have endured for decades, with China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei all making overlapping territorial claims. The region is rich in natural resources and biodiversity, holding vast fish stocks and an estimated 11 billion barrels of oil and 190 cubic feet of natural gas.
With global climate action stagnating, sustained community-driven initiatives can fill the governance gap and also help mitigate climate-related security risks in South Asia.
South Asia’s vulnerability to climate change and associated fragility risks calls for a regional approach to climate services. Different actors need to cooperate to share actionable climate information—the security architecture in the region would benefit.
During the past two weeks, Antigua & Barbuda, Nicaragua and Panama ratified the Escazú Agreement, giving a major boost to the unprecedented and innovative Latin American pact that seeks to reduce social conflicts and protect frontline communities in the world’s deadliest region for environmental defenders.
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.
In the Inner Mongolian county of Horinger, Northwestern China, afforestation efforts have transformed a barren, dusty landscape into a pine forest. Planting trees has diminished the sandstorms, boosted biodiversity and improved the environment generally. As the climate emergency worsens, the potential for planted trees to draw carbon out of the atmosphere is being re-examined. What can the world learn from the Chinese experience with afforestation?
As India grapples with the worsening impacts of climate change, the need to strengthen its adaptation efforts has become more significant than ever. Climate diplomacy and mainstreaming climate adaptation into the most vulnerable sectors could provide some solutions to overcoming barriers, such as the lack of sustainable funding.
Women are vital for effective climate policy making and implementation. In South Asia, more needs to be done on systematically integrating women into policy processes - as active stakeholders and not merely as victims of climate risks.
In some areas of the world, including Central America, rising sea levels and declining agricultural productivity due to climate change are expected to trigger major migratory flows, especially within countries. The role of policy-makers is it to promote local solutions while engaging in regional cooperation for a preventative approach.
A recently published paper by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) has focused on the under-researched topic of how climate change impacts may affect violence in South and Southeast Asia. Titled “Climate change and violent conflict: Sparse evidence from South Asia and South East Asia”, the report highlights how little work has been done in looking at climate change and its possible impact on security in the most densely populated regions on the planet.