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Climate Change and Security: Perspectives from the Field


Within the UN and beyond, there is a growing recognition of the impact of climate change on the risks of violent conflict. The UN Security Council has recognised that climate change is one of several factors affecting the stability of countries and has called for more in-depth analysis, reporting and risk assessments on the links between environmental shifts and insecurity. The 2020-2022 strategy of the UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA) includes climate change as a factor driving conflict risks, while UN regional approaches increasingly reflect an understanding that conflict prevention must take environmental changes into account. Increasingly, the common country assessments produced by UN offices around the world include reference to the impacts of climate change on their work, including on humanitarian, development and political engagements. Reflecting the priority of the issue, a Climate Security Mechanism was established in late 2018 across three UN entities tasked with integrating climate risk considerations across the UN system.

These trends have created a growing demand for climate-security empirics, for analysis that will illuminate the complex links between increasing global temperatures and risks of instability. Much of the analysis to date has been conducted outside the UN, by a range of scientific and policy experts who have already contributed significantly to our understanding of how specific settings are being impacted today. However, as climate-security has begun to be mainstreamed into UN policies and practices, the organisation has also produced significant research of its own, while non-UN researchers too have turned their focus on how the UN might benefit from climate-security findings.

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