This report provides a review of current climate-security risks and progress on responses to these risks. It picks up from the report produced for the Planetary Security Conference 2016, Towards A Global Resilience Agenda, and builds on the analysis and recommendations set out in the 2015 G7 commissioned report A New Climate for Peace.
The scan of the 2017 horizon shows that climate fragility risks persist and are worsening. The world is facing more climatic extremes, a greater number of increasingly internationalised conflicts, the highest levels of hunger and displacement since World War Two, and an increasingly volatile geopolitical landscape.
A review of progress presents a mixed bag but, on balance, offers more grounds for optimism than for pessimism. There have been positive steps towards new and deeper partnerships for resilience, for example, between the EU and China, across 14 US states following Trump’s threatened withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, and between municipal authorities around the world. There has been greater acknowledgement of climate-fragility risks in national and global fora, policies and strategies, for example in the EU’s Global Resilience Strategy, UNSC Resolution 2349 on Lake Chad, and the Australian Senate Inquiry into climate and security. There have also been steps to operationalise action to address climate-fragility risks, for example, the G7 and partner states are supporting a comprehensive risk assessment of Lake Chad. But these practical steps towards implementation - which are few and far between - should be scaled up and multiplied.
2017 marks a decade since the policy and practitioner community began to seriously look at climate change as a security risk. Whilst continued research, dialogue and policy gains are important and must continue, this ten year anniversary is an apt moment to resolutely pivot from continued discussion, analysis, and supportive statements, towards action. We set out three, cumulative steps to help catalyse the much needed transition from analysis to action to build global resilience:
The complex nature of climate-fragility risks requires many actors – international and regional institutions, civil society, and the private sector – to work more closely together. We are seeing encouraging strides in this direction. However, for both these initiatives, and others like it, the proof will be in evidence of coherent, coordinated and cooperative implementation on the ground, across different scales.
An institutional home for climate change and security within the UN system would provide a locus for cooperation and joint-action. It would provide the much needed focal point for provision of analysis and advice on climate-fragility risks and coordination of funding and activities to move these nascent partnerships towards effect implementation.
Greater cooperation between the G20 Development Working Group and G7 Climate Fragility Working Groups, for example, through regular briefings, meetings or agreement of a shared agenda, would also enable better coordination and stronger global leadership on the issue. It would also represent a way, as recommended in A New Climate for Peace, of the G7 broadening its range of cooperation on this agenda.
The importance of sustainable and inclusive development as a means for prevention of conflict is clear. Grievances around exclusion from access to power, opportunity and security create fertile ground for conflict. The same grievances also render communities vulnerable to climate and disaster risks. We have heard time and again that prevention is cheaper than cure so it is not just a moral imperative, but a question of sound business sense to invest more in prevention.
This means a move towards a new funding and programming paradigm which puts prevention first. Steps would include:
Moving from post-crisis response, with prevention focused on only the most immediate risks, to early and urgent action to directly tackle and manage the full range of risks that could lead to climate related conflict.
Strengthening leadership so that prevention enhances governance legitimacy and expands the scope of and calibre of government actions.
Partnerships at all levels to identify risks and develop solutions so that action is people-centred, rather than top-down and technocrat driven.
Adopting integrated solutions which increase resilience to multiple forms of risk, with effective prevention tools often in the hands of actors for whom conflict or climate risk is not a primary focus.
Combining short and long-term approaches as shorter-term results increase the buy-in to sustained and strategic approaches to prevention
More agile approaches that adapt in the face of changing risks and opportunities.
It goes without saying that successfully addressing climate-related security challenges requires knowledge sharing, partnerships, and getting out of separate silos. It requires, in short, the emergence of a new community of practice. In preparation for the 2017 Planetary Security Conference, the Dutch government spearheaded a set of practical commitments in the Hague Declaration. Acknowledging that challenges are both global and local, the Hague Declaration provides a road-map to consolidate and strengthen a new community and spur the momentum to address climate-fragility risks. It doesn’t attempt at comprehensive global coverage, rather it builds upon and seeks to contextualise the recommendations of the G7 commissioned report A New Climate for Peace in specific regions and themes prioritised by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Agenda for Action supports concrete steps to advance six action areas: