Climate Change

Reports and papers

What climate? The different meaning of climate indicators in violent conflict studies

18 Oct 2023 - 09:03
Source: Internally displaced Somali families rest as they flee from drought stricken regions in Lower Shabelle region before entering makeshift camps in Somalia's capital Mogadishu, March 17, 2017. REUTERS/Feisal Omar

This paper was previously published in Climatic Change Journal, on 17 October 2023.

This paper explores the operationalization of climate-related indicators in violent conflict research. The climate-conflict narrative gained traction in recent decades and climate change is often referred to as a ‘threat multiplier’ by both policy makers and scholars. Yet, the relationships between climate-related phenomena and violent conflict are complex and context-specific. However, limited attention has been given to the climatic indicators applied in climate-conflict research. This paper addresses that gap by analysing 32 studies published from 2004 to 2020 on the operationalisation of climatic indicators and their relationship with violent conflict. It discusses how the selection and operationalisation of climate indicators requires careful consideration, and the phenomena researched should be well-specified in research findings.

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