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Reports and papers

World Climate and Security Report 2020

13 Feb 2020 - 16:15
Source: ? U.S. Army Service Members return to the U.S. Virgin Islands to assist with disaster relief operations in response to Hurricanes Irma and Maria, Sept. 23, 2017. U.S U.S. Army / Pvt. AlleeA Oliver/released
“climate-proofing” international security

This report is published by the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS) chaired by Tom Middendorp, former Chief of Defence of the Netherlands and Senior Research Associate at the Clingendael Institute. Louise van Schaik, Head of our EU & Global Affairs Unit & Planetary Security Initiative, is a co-author.

The report is written from the vantage point of international military and security experts, providing a global overview of the security risks of a changing climate, and opportunities for addressing them. It recommends “climate-proofing” international security – including infrastructure, institutions and policies, as well as major emissions reductions to avoid significant-to-catastrophic security threats.

 Watch Tom Middendorp's Opening Statement at the Munich Security Conference 2020 releasing the report. 

While there has been progress over the past decades, with militaries and security institutions increasingly analyzing and incorporating climate change risks into their assessments, plans and policies, the “World Climate and Security Report 2020” shows that the risks are increasingly urgent, and more must be done. This contributed to the report’s “Key Risks and Opportunities” findings.

Watch the video of Tom Middendorp on Nieuwsuur live from the Munich Security Conference (in Dutch).


Water insecurity a global security risk: Climate change-exacerbated water insecurity is already a significant driver of instability and will pose a significant or higher risk to global security by 2030.

Watch the explainer with Tom Middendorp on NOS op 3 (in Dutch)

All regions facing increase in climate security risks (not just fragile/poor): Though fragile regions of the world are facing the most severe and catastrophic security consequences of climate change, all regions are facing significant or higher security risks due to the global nature of the risks. 

Military institutions are increasingly concerned about climate risks: As reinforced by the 31 nations represented in the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS), an increasing number of national, regional and international security and military institutions are concerned about, and planning for, climate change risks to military infrastructure, force readiness, military operations, and the broader security environment.


National, regional, and international security institutions and militaries around the world should advance robust climate resilience strategies, plans and investments, especially regarding climate implications for water and food security and their associated effects on stability, conflict and displacement, in their primary mission sets or lines of effort.

The international community should embrace a Responsibility to Prepare and Prevent framework, given unprecedented foresight capabilities regarding the unprecedented risks of climate change. This includes ensuring all levels of government and civil society, including all national, regional and international security institutions, are prepared for the security implications of climate change.

Climate-proof security

We need to climate-proof all our military institutions, infrastructure and policies in order to avoid the worst and potentially unmanageable security risks of climate change, and to manage the unavoidable risks.

More and more militaries are sounding the alarm on climate change

It's not just environmentalists or economists raising the alarm. The security community therefore has a responsibility to prepare for and prevent these threats. 

Download the full report


About the International Military Council on Climate and Security

The International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS) is a group of senior military leaders, security experts, and security institutions across the globe, currently from 32 countries, dedicated to anticipating, analyzing, and addressing the security risks of a changing climate. These organizations form the Expert Group of the IMCCS.

The group was founded and is administered by the Center for Climate and Security (CCS), an institute of the Council on Strategic Risks (CSR), in partnership with the:

  • French Institute for International and Strategic Affairs (IRIS)
  • The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS)
  • The Planetary Security Initiative of the Netherlands Institute of International Relations (Clingendael).

Follow @MiddendorpTom & @LouiseVanSchaik