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The need for a ‘peace continuum’ approach to climate security: Insights from the Horn of Africa

The need for a ‘peace continuum’ approach to climate security: Insights from the Horn of Africa

Drawing on insights from Africa’s Horn, the paper also discusses concrete opportunities for advancing a ‘peace continuum' approach to climate security. Specifically, it underscores the importance of strategic engagement and accessible, conflict-sensitive climate finance, notwithstanding challenges posed by institutional fragmentation and conflict. Recommendations are supported by examples of UN, AU and IGAD initiatives and case studies from Somalia and Somaliland.

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The paper is organised in two main parts. The first part reviews the current limitations and gaps in the climate security agenda and argues for a reorientation. It begins with an examination of the emergence of the climate security agenda within broader intervention trends shaped by a rise in stabilisation and security assistance to Africa, alongside declining trust in development co-operation. It then assesses existing gaps in advancing climate security, in particular concerning the lack of committed finances for the agenda and the under-prioritisation of conflict affected contexts. The paper argues that reorientating the agenda to address current gaps will be key not only for supporting peace and security for populations and regions most affected by climate change, but also for Europe and the West’s standing and prospects for meaningful partnerships in Africa. The backdrop against which the climate crisis unfolds is marked by increasing geopolitical rivalries including over political, economic and security influence in Africa, involving prominent actors such as Russia and China. Additionally, a growing climate justice discourse underscores the importance of advancing an Africa-centred climate security approach. Failure to do so is likely to feed disillusionment with Europe and prompt African actors to seek alliances elsewhere. Accordingly, advancing a climate-security agenda that more effectively addresses interconnected climate, security and peace challenges and needs on the African continent, matters both from a climate justice perspective, and as an imperative for fostering partnerships in the context of current global dynamics. 

Having addressed key gaps in advancing the climate security agenda in part one, the second part of the paper shifts focus to examining specific challenges and opportunities for reorienting climate security approaches to better account for interconnections with peace and development as well as regional priorities. This part uses the Horn of Africa as a case study and provides insights into the challenges of political fragmentation and conflict conditions, highlighting as well how existing grounded knowledge, efforts and areas of international-African interest convergence can be supported and leveraged. Based on insights from expert interviews with key representatives from regional and international organisations, and also drawing on field research and case examples from the contexts of Somalia and Somaliland on best and worst practices of climate security engagement, the paper presents key considerations and recommendations for advancing a partnership orientated and regionally relevant course for the climate security agenda

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