adelphi, UNU-CPR and UNCSM host regional dialogue on climate security in Northern Central America

Corn field in Antigua, Guatemala.

Cross-cutting climate-related security risks

A series of input presentations from in-country and regional experts from UN agencies, regional organisations, NGOs and academia described the following cross-cutting risks deriving from the interlinkages between climate change impacts and the nexus of poverty, social conflict, violence and migration in NCA:

  • Livelihoods: the overwhelming consensus was that climate change is having a dramatic effect on livelihoods, with secondary impacts on conflict risks. In some contexts, the agricultural sector was most directly affected, in others the impact was predominantly on fishing or land tenure. Generally, however, addressing the loss of livelihoods was seen as a crucial aspect of the climate-security challenge.
  • Population movements: NCA already has high rates of displacement and migration. Climate change impacts in the form of extreme weather events, loss of land, and erratic rainfall exacerbate these trends. These not only create tensions over scarce land in some areas, but also contribute to rapid urbanisation across the region. Cities are growing very quickly, and are home to some of the most violent criminal groups.
  • Criminality: large-scale criminal networks pose serious risks to the social fabric, stability and good governance across the region. In many ways, climate change is affecting livelihoods further by threatening young people’s prospects, driving people into informal economies, and strengthening criminal networks. In turn, criminal organisations tend to strip state institutions of authority and resources, creating a vicious cycle that can reinforce violence.
  • Lack of investment in human capital: Deeply rooted social divides, especially around access to land and natural resources, can be exacerbated by gaps in institutional capacities and uncontrolled extraction of resources. This also contributes to prolonged humanitarian needs, the drivers of which are not tackled.

Download the dialogue's summary here.