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Country Flags. Photo credits: UNclimatechange/Flickr.com

Melting glaciers in the Himalayas and the Andes, more frequent storms in the Caribbean and Oceania, changing weather patterns in Africa and the Middle East: the challenges posed by climate change are enormous. The repercussions raise geopolitical questions, have implications for livelihoods and development, and necessitate a strategic response to ensure sustainable development. They raise questions that go to the heart of international politics: sovereignty, territorial integrity, and access to resources, such as water, food, and energy. For the coming decades, climate change has the potential to cause significant and highly uncertain impacts on societies, undermining human security and increasing the risks of conflict and instability.

There is a consensus among scientists and policy-makers around the globe that climate change will act as a multiplier and even a trigger for threats to international peace and security. Numerous official statements, position papers and resolutions by the United Nations, the European Union and the G7, as well as other international and regional organisations and donor agencies, have emphasised the security implications of climate change. An appropriate response to the security challenges of climate change requires a broad coalition. An effective partnership should include governments – with foreign ministries assuming a core role – as well as representatives of science, business and civil society.

It is also becoming increasingly clear that development and growth policies need to be climate compatible. In fact, climate action presents great opportunities to grow the economy sustainably. Using cross-sectoral convening power, bilateral relations and multilateral fora, diplomats can promote a better understanding of these opportunities beyond the environmental policy community, scope and facilitate bilateral cooperative action. Such an integrated approach will on the one hand help to further foreign policy objectives, and on the other hand support implementation of the Paris Agreement, while ratcheting up ambition over time.

For these reasons, starting in 2011, the German Federal Foreign Office in cooperation with adelphi and its partners have reached out to stakeholders, experts and organisations throughout the world, with the aim of building support for climate diplomacy while also providing additional reasoning for concluding a global climate agreement.

Hundreds of decision-makers and experts as well as thousands of citizens have participated in regional roundtables from Bogotá (Spanish version available) to New Delhi, executive briefings and consultations from Wellington to Port of Spain, and events at climate conferences from Durban to Doha. The objectives at the core of these activities are to share viewpoints, jointly identify priorities and develop common strategies to address climate challenges.

Moreover, the activities build on the conviction that, in order to further deepen the understanding of climate change and security and to gain support for preventive action, strong political commitment is required at the global, regional and national levels. The consensus reached at the 2011 UN Security Council Open Debate on climate change and security, captured in the presidential statement, demonstrates the overall recognition of the dire risks that emanate from climate change.

And this recognition is being carried into other fora: Under the German Presidency, the G7 commissioned the independent report A New Climate for Peace: Taking Action on Climate and Fragility Risks, which identifies compound climate-fragility risks that pose serious threats to the stability of states and societies in the decades ahead. At the meeting of G7 Foreign Ministers in Lübeck on 15 April 2015, they announced a stronger collective commitment to tackling the climate-related risks faced by weak states.

Different regions prioritise different aspects of climate diplomacy and view it from different angles. For this reason, the process initiated by the German Federal Foreign Office in cooperation with adelphi and its partners puts emphasis on holding discussions at the regional level. Geopolitical questions, livelihood and development issues, and a sustainable, green economy can play a key role, although their relevance and their ability to contribute to the solution vary according to the regional context. This approach demands thorough debates with regional organisations, civil society and expert communities from diverse regions through informal consultations, side-events at international conferences, workshops, briefings and various outreach activities. Partner institutions are engaged in the development of regional perspectives through statements, briefs, joint consultations and region-specific exhibitions on climate and security.

This website documents the ambitious political action undertaken by Germany to engage stakeholders, partner countries and regional organisations around the world. It also highlights the achievements and key messages distilled from the joint climate diplomacy initiative by the German Federal Foreign Office and adelphi.

To read it as PDF, download the booklet: Climate Diplomacy - Foreign Policy Responses to Climate Change (2017). Highlights include:

  • Climate diplomacy narratives – from cities to growth, water and global food security
  • Climate risks, diplomacy and resilience
  • Climate change and security at the UN level
  • G7 action on climate and fragility risks
  • Communicating climate diplomacy: interactive online resources and touring exhibition
  • The Climate Fund projects by the German Federal Foreign Office