November 23, 2019
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EDCPM Insights Magazine Focusses on Climate Change and Conflict

The current issue of Great Insights,a magazine of EDCPM looks at climate change not as a global phenomenon but rather at how it is or it isn’t a trigger to violent conflicts.

In an editorial previewing the content and written by Vera Mazzara,Policy Officer,Security and Resilience Programme, ECDPM,”climate risks are recognised as transboundary and they need to be tackled through a committed global climate leadership. 

“The relationship between climate change and conflicts has been discussed extensively in various contexts and there are strong indications and a growing recognition that climate change can accelerate or deepen conflicts; however, there is still a lack of consensus on how and under which circumstances climate change ignites conflicts, because a direct impact is often not easy to trace: developments that might lead to conflicts are characterised by a complex constellation of various factors, therefore, we might not be able to see at first sight a direct climate cause.

“Consequences of and responses to climate change are issues debated internationally, both at the EU and UN level. The latest and most notable event was the UN Climate Summit in September and recently the UN Security Council has held debates on addressing the impact of climate related disasters on international peace and security. The EU had already stated in the Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign And Security Policy that sustainable peace has always been and will remain at the centre of the European Union’s external action.

“All these elements are central to our latest Great Insights. We asked policy makers and analysts to help us answer the following question: “When is climate change a risk factor for violent conflicts and what can be done to address climate change risk as part of a broader peacebuilding effort?”.

“Outgoing High Representative Federica Mogherini opens the issue in which she builds on her Statement on the occasion of the International Day of Peace where she said: “Climate change multiplies threats to peace and security as it adds pressure to already fragile livelihoods and destabilises local communities and their environments”. 

“In her contribution, she looks at the EU efforts to counter the negative effects of climate change impacting on security, as well as the role of the EU in recognising the link between climate and security, and more specifically how climate change is radically changing our security environment.

“Her article is followed by the contribution of ten leading experts and analysts that we grouped following three structural angles: first, a look at other international organisations and their ability to trigger change; then, an analysis of regional and local realities with case studies; and finally, a dedicated thematic section ranging from displacement, through gender and natural resources. 

“The idea of this Great Insights came from the initial discussions on a new project we will be working on for the next couple of years: the Horizon 2020 on ‘CAScading Climate risks: towards ADaptive and resilient European Societies’ (CASCADES). The aim of the project is to investigate how climate risks beyond Europe’s geographical borders may affect Europe, and to find adequate responses to adapt to these risks or mitigate them. ECDPM is working on this together with several leading climate change European Institutes. 

“Finally, you might have noticed – by looking at the names of our eleven authors – that they are all women. This is no coincidence: we wanted to give space to some of the female experts who have made a substantial contribution in a field that has been strongly influenced by male thinking”,the editorial concluded.

Synopsis by prominent contributors to the subject of the magazine are published below:

Climate action as a matter of national security

Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President of the Commission

“National interest is sometimes used as an argument against climate action. National economic interests are opposed to the interests of the planet. Such an approach is fundamentally flawed. Climate change is today a matter of national interest and national security. It is already destabilising entire countries and regions, with serious security consequences for all of us, at all corners of the world.

Keep climate change from fuelling conflict

Alexandra Pichler Fong and Helena de Jong, Policy Planning Unit, Policy and Mediation Division, Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, UN, New York

“As climate change advances, it is increasingly disrupting peace and security. This could mean a heightened risk of violent conflict for many already fragile countries with high exposure to climate hazards and limited coping capacity. New approaches are needed to work on the interlinkages between climate change, conflict prevention and sustaining peace.

Intergovernmental organisations and climate risks 

Lisa Maria Dellmuth, Department of Economic History and International Relations, Stockholm University

“Intergovernmental organisations (IGOs), such as the United Nations, are increasingly integrating mitigation of climate risks into their mandates. To better understand how IGOs can address climate risks in ways that are just, legitimate and effective, we need to know more about the multilevel nature and (il-)legitimacy of global climate policies.

Securitisation without representation: Yet another reason why Africa needs a permanent seat on the UN Security Council

Lidet Tadesse Shiferaw, Policy Officer, Security and Resilience programme, EDCPM
“Climate change is increasingly acknowledged as a global security issue, and the UN Security Council’s mandate over it is growing. Yet, Africa still lacks equal standing with other regions and the permanent members of the Security Council. Without permanent representation of Africa on the Security Council, the continent is rendered a subject, not an agent, of global climate governance.

Climate change, conflict and crisis in Lake Chad
Janani Vivekananda, Senior Advisor, Adelphi

“Lake Chad is caught in a conflict trap. Climate change and conflict dynamics create a feedback loop.  The impacts of climate change seed additional pressure for conflict, while conflict undermines communities’ capacity to cope with climate risks. If the region is to break free from the conflict trap, climate risks have to be tackled as part of peacebuilding efforts. Lake Chad can once again become an engine for sustainable livelihoods and stability.

The when and how of climate conflict: The case of Mali

Basak Kalkavan, Tutor for the BSc. Security Studies programme at the Institute of Security and Global Affairs, Leiden University

“Climate change itself is not a direct cause of violent conflict. Yet, extreme changes in climate increase the risk of conflict by exacerbating people’s existing political, economic and social vulnerabilities.

Climate change, conflict and displacement: Sides of the same coin

Joyce Chen, Associate Professor, Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics, Ohio State University

“Climate change is increasing the incidence of extreme weather events with the potential to destroy millions of dollars of personal property and public infrastructure. As households and businesses adapt to this new normal, the international community must see migration and security not as separate outcomes but as diametrical extremes of the simple need for adaptation.

Human mobility and climate change: Migration and displacement in a warming world

Caroline Zickgraf, Deputy Director of the Hugo Observatory: Environment, Migration, Politics at the University of Liège, Belgium

“Migration and climate change have each in their own right become defining global political issues. The links between human mobility and climate change require comprehensive policy approaches that minimise population displacement while facilitating migration as an adaptive force.

A cross-cutting agenda: Gender, climate change and conflict

Mayesha Alam, PhD at Yale University

“Gender equality is crucial to achieve climate justice, to resolve conflict and to maintain peace. Many of the risks and vulnerabilities in the conflict–climate nexus have a clear gender component. Addressing them calls for gender mainstreaming and gender balancing, while highlighting the need for local solutions and capitalising on global opportunities for advancing resilience.

Water scarcity and conflict: Not such a straightforward link

Susanne Schmeier et al, IHE Delft (Former UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education)

“Water insecurity is increasing worldwide. This raises the chance of competition, conflict and instability in communities, countries and regions everywhere. In response to the challenges, the Water, Peace and Security (WPS) Partnership designs innovative tools and services to identify emerging water-related security risks. The aim is to foster dialogue and early targeted action to prevent or mitigate crises.

Elements of change: Climate and conflict in Africa

Lily Welborn, Researcher, African Futures and Innovation programme, Institute for Security Studies

“Climate change is a global phenomenon that affects all life on earth. For the first time ever, the entire planet is undergoing a singular climatic transformation. Globally, land has already warmed 1.5°C and, owing to past greenhouse gas emissions and inertia in the climate system, the earth and its atmosphere will continue to warm until around mid-century, even if all emissions stopped today. Unprecedented heatwaves, food shortages and extreme storms will likely hit us before 2030 and intensify with further warming.”

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