G7-commissioned report on climate-fragility risks

The Group of 7 has been at the forefront of putting climate-fragility risks on the global agenda. In 2012, under the Presidency of the United States, the then G8 issued a joint statement recognising “climate change as a contributing factor to increased security risks globally.” This was followed up in 2013 under the British Presidency, which placed a strong focus on climate change. This included promoting ambitious international emission-reduction targets and more action on the security risks posed by climate change. G8 foreign policy officials decided to commission an independent report on climate change and fragility and an open online platform to share and disseminate knowledge and research on the topic.

In 2014 an international consortium of think tanks – led by adelphi and including International Alert, the Woodrow Wilson Center and the EU Institute for Security Studies – was commissioned by the G7 foreign ministries to implement these commitments. The project was supported by the German Federal Foreign Office, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the US government through USAID, and the European Union.

A New Climate for Peace

The aim of the report A New Climate for Peace was to examine the links between climate change and fragility, and what role foreign policy can and should play in order to address these challenges. Unlike the many previous reports on climate change and security, this report took a broader look at fragility and examined how climate change converges with other pressures and stressors on states and societies, thus creating a wide range of fragility risks.

The report covers the whole spectrum of situations of fragility, ranging from crisis and violent conflict to volatile transitional stages, such as regime change, post-conflict situations, and political unrest. It reaches beyond the traditional focus on the weakest and most conflict-ridden states by drawing attention to the risks posed by climate change for the stability and resilience of more developed countries.

In addition to a thorough review of the existing literature and scientific research, the consortium organised ten regional consultation and dialogue events. Stakeholders across five continents engaged in discussions on risk perception, preventive policy approaches and strategies in Ecuador, Egypt, Haiti, Jordan, Kenya, Morocco, Pakistan, Peru, the Philippines and Samoa.

Seven climate-fragility risks threaten the stability of states and societies

The report identifies seven compound climate-fragility risks that pose serious threats to the stability of states and societies in the decades ahead:

  • Local resource competition: As the pressure on natural resources increases, competition can lead to instability and even violent conflicts in the absence of effective dispute resolution.
  • Livelihood insecurity and migration: Climate change will increase the human insecurity of those depending on natural resources for their livelihoods, which could push them to migrate or turn to illegal sources of income.
  • Extreme weather events and disasters will exacerbate fragility and can increase people’s vulnerability and grievances, especially in conflict-affected situations.
  • Volatile food prices and provision: Climate change is highly likely to disrupt food production in many regions, increasing prices and market volatility, and heightening the risk of protests, rioting and civil conflict.
  • Transboundary water management is frequently a source of tension; as demand grows and climate impacts affect availability and quality, competition over water use will likely increase the pressure on existing governance structures.
  • Sea-level rise and coastal degradation: Rising sea levels will threaten the viability of low-lying areas, leading to social disruption, displacement and migration, while disagreements over maritime boundaries and ocean resources may increase.
  • Unintended effects of climate policies: As climate adaptation and mitigation policies are more broadly implemented, the risks of unintended negative effects – particularly in fragile contexts – will also increase.

Policy analysis: the need for an integrated agenda

The best way to diminish the threat posed by these climate-fragility risks is to mitigate climate change. However, changes to the climate are already underway, so steps to manage and minimise these risks have to be taken today. In order to address these systemic compound risks, approaches that cross sectors instead of single-sector interventions are needed. Responses to these interdependent and complex challenges have to reflect the multi-dimensionality of the risks.

Integrating policies and programmes in three key sectors – climate change adaptation, development and humanitarian aid, and peacebuilding – is necessary to help strengthen resilience to climate-fragility risks and realise significant co-benefits. The policy analysis of the report identified key policy and institutional gaps, lessons learned and entry points in this regard.

Recommendations: anew commitment for resilience

In order to overcome these gaps, the report calls for a new approach and new leadership from the highest level. It recommends that the G7 governments commit to designing and implementing integrated responses at several levels:

  • Within each G7 government;
  • Coordination among G7 members;
  • By informing global and multilateral processes;
  • Working in partnership with a wide range of other actors and institutions, including in countries affected by fragility.

It also proposes that this new multi-dimensional national and international process of coordination and cooperation for integrated responses should position itself in five action areas:

  • Global risk assessment
  • Food security
  • Disaster risk reduction
  • Transboundary water disputes settlement
  • Building local resilience

Knowledge platform

Coinciding with the publication of the report, the interactive online platform www.newclimateforpeace.org was launched. In addition to providing easy access to the report and its main findings, it offers political decision-makers, experts and practitioners up-to-date information on scientific and political developments around climate and fragility risks in the form of a blog, along with further information and resources in the format of an interactive map, the EEC Factbook, to explore the topic in more depth.

Report welcomed by G7 Foreign Ministers

The report was handed over to the German Foreign Minister in April 2015, and discussed and welcomed by the G7 Foreign Ministers at their Lübeck meeting in the same month. In their Communiqué, they agreed “on the need to better understand, identify, monitor and address the compound risks associated with climate change and fragility” and to integrate “climate-fragility considerations across foreign policy portfolios”. In addition, they decided to set up a working group and task it with evaluating the report’s recommendations and consider facilitating information exchange, improving cooperation with affected countries and response to climate-fragility risks, making better use of risk assessments and developing guidance materials.

The resulting report by the G7 Working Group on Climate Change and Fragility was welcomed at the G7 Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Hiroshima under the Japanese Presidency in April 2016. The Ministers reiterated their commitment to “work to prioritise prevention of climate fragility risks by aligning our efforts toward the common goal of increasing resilience and reducing fragility in the face of global climate change,” and renewed the mandate of the working group for another two years with a view to implementing some of the report´s recommendations.


Have a look at the infographic below to understand the work process of the G7 on climate change and fragility (use a right-click).

G7 climate and fragility working group process