“A New Climate for Peace: Taking Action on Climate and Fragility Risks”, an independent report commissioned by members of the G7, identifies seven compound climate-fragility risks that pose serious threats to the stability of states and societies in the decades ahead. Based on a thorough assessment of existing policies on climate change adaptation, development cooperation and humanitarian aid, and peacebuilding, the report recommends that the G7 take concrete action, both as individual members and jointly, to tackle climate-fragility risks and increase the resilience of states and societies to them.
Risk Analysis: Compound Climate-Fragility Risks
Climate change is a global threat to security in the 21st century. It will stress the world’s economic, social, and political systems. Where institutions and governments are unable to manage the stress or absorb the shocks of a changing climate, the risks to the stability of states and societies will increase.
1. Global pressures are increasing
The planet’s limited resources are under pressure. Demand for food, water, and energy is increasing. Widespread unemployment, rapid urbanization, and environmental degradation challenge efforts to reduce poverty and increase economic development in many poor countries. In fragile regions, persistent inequality, political marginalization, and unresponsive governments can increase the potential for instability and conflict. The addition of climate impacts will multiply these pressures and strain countries’ ability to meet their citizens’ needs.
2. Climate change is the ultimate threat multiplier
When the impacts of climate change interact with other stresses, the combination can overburden weak states, spurring social upheaval and sometimes violent conflict. Even seemingly stable states can be pushed towards instability if the pressure is high enough or shock is too great. Seven compound climate-fragility risks emerge when climate change interacts with other social, economic, and environmental pressures:
As the pressure on natural resources increases, competition can lead to instability and even violent conflict in the absence of effective dispute resolution
Climate changes will increase the human insecurity of people who depend on natural resources for their livelihoods, which could push them to migrate or to turn to informal and illegal sources of income.
Extreme weather events and disasters will exacerbate fragile situations and can increase people’s vulnerability and grievances, especially in countries affected by conflict.
Climate change is highly likely to disrupt food production in many regions, increasing prices and market volatility, and heightening the risk of protests, rioting, and civil conflict.
Transboundary water management is frequently a source of tension. As demand grows and climate impacts affect availability and quality, competition over water use will likely increase pressure on existing governance structures.
Rising sea levels will threaten the viability of low-lying areas even before they are submerged, leading to social disruption, displacement, and migration. At the same time, disagreements over maritime boundaries and ocean resources may increase.
Policy Analysis: An Integrated Agenda for Resilience
The best way to diminish the threats posed by climate-fragility risks is to mitigate climate change. However, changes to the climate are already underway, so we must take steps to manage and minimize these risks today.
Single-sector interventions alone will not address the compound risks. Integrating policies and programs in three key sectors—climate change adaptation, development and humanitarian aid, and peacebuilding—is necessary to help strengthen resilience to climate-fragility risks and realize the significant co-benefits of integration.
Key institutions are developing and implementing a new agenda for resilience, based on the principle that resilient states and societies can absorb shocks and channel radical change through the political process, while maintaining stability and preventing violence. However, a number of obstacles prevent the focus on resilience from producing better adaptation, development, and peacebuilding programming on the ground.
Despite significant progress, assessments of vulnerability to climate change rarely incorporate drivers of fragility or conflict history, and there is little guidance on “conflict-proofing” climate adaptation plans. Countries with situations of fragility often have less capacity to access climate finance or to fully engage in UNFCCC-related activities.
Some progress has been made in “climate-proofing” development work, but mainstreaming climate into development programming is not yet standard practice, especially in fragile situations where vulnerability to climate-fragility risks is high. Development assistance levels in countries with situations of fragility are often volatile, which could undermine efforts to improve resilience to climate-fragility risks.
While leading security actors have called for a better understanding of climate and fragility risks, climate change is not yet sufficiently incorporated into fragility or peace and conflict assessments. Additionally, few financing instruments for peacebuilding and conflict prevention earmark funds for addressing climate and fragility risks.
Recommendations: A New Commitment for Resilience
Responding to the global strategic threat posed by climate change is too great a task for any single government. It is time for a new approach and new leadership from the highest level. The G7 has a singular opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to tackling one of the great challenges of our time: building resilience to climate-fragility risks. We recommend that the G7 governments commit to designing and implementing integrated responses at several levels:
G7 governments can begin by integrating climate-fragility responses across their departments. This requires adding new capacities and developing cross-sectoral policy processes for compound risk assessment and monitoring, and for integrated planning and implementation.
- Establish cross-sectoral working groups and policy processes.
- Conduct integrated multi-risk analyses at the global, regional, and country levels
- Pilot integrated approaches to address the compound risks
Problems that do not respect national borders can best be addressed by inter-governmental action. A G7 task force of senior officials could jump-start closer coordination between G7 members on climate-fragility risks.
- Mandate an annual review of integrated policies and programs.
- Convene technical sessions on best practices and lessons learned.
- Invest jointly in shared data sources and new research.
- Jointly develop and use global risk assessments.
- Continue to develop the existing G7 knowledge platform.
Acting together, G7 governments can help break down the sectoral barriers and lack of sufficient financing that have kept multilateral processes and institutions, such as the post-2015 development agenda, from comprehensively addressing climate-fragility risks and realizing the potential co-benefits of integrated approaches.
- Explicitly cross-reference the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the newly adopted Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction, and climate change adaptation policies by, among other things, focusing on synergies between different institutions and frameworks.
- Foster climate-sensitive and conflict-sensitive policies and programs in multilateral institutions and sectoral organizations.
- Work together to help countries in situations of fragility prepare conflict-sensitive climate change adaptation plans and implement integrated resilience-building initiatives.
- Encourage multilateral institutions to facilitate access to climate finance mechanisms for countries in situations of fragility, and ensure that ODA for these countries is less volatile and less unevenlydistributed.
- Ensure that financing instruments for peacebuilding, conflict prevention, and humanitarian assistance specifically earmark funds for programmes that address climate and fragility risks.
Strengthening links between local, national, and global initiatives will help ensure that global initiatives improve local resilience to climate-fragility risks. In particular, the G7 should partner with governments and NGOs in countries facing fragile situations to provide support for addressing climate-fragility risks.
- Partner with states that have endorsed the principles of the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States to better understand and respond to relevant climate-fragility compound risks.
- Use existing networks, fora, and conferences to foster international discussions on how to build resilience against climate change and fragility.
- Engage with thematic networks, such as the Nansen Initiative on Disaster-Induced Cross-Border Displacement.
- Advocate with regional organizations, such as the ECOWAS and ASEAN, to make climate change and fragility a key topic on their agendas.
Building on these four recommendations we propose five initial action areas for this new cooperative approach:
G7 governments should establish a unified, shared, and accessible risk assessment methodology for identifying climate-fragility risks and generating actionable conclusions.
In addition to developing resilient food systems, the risks posed by food insecurity can be mitigated by better information, by keeping markets operating during crisis and by market access.
G7 governments and their development partners should work together to invest in crisis prevention by integrating disaster risk reduction, peacebuilding, and climate change adaptation.
A three-pronged approach can help ensure that transboundary waters become points of peaceful cooperation: stronger institutions, better dissemination of knowledge and encouraging cooperation between governments in transboundary river basins.
G7 Risk Briefings
- Briefing Note No. 1: Climate Change and EU Security Policy: An Unmet Challenge
- Briefing Note No. 2: National Security and the Accelerating Risks of Climate Change
- Briefing Note No. 3: 2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap
- Briefing Note No. 4: Jordan Country Risk Brief
- Briefing Note No. 5: Global Climate Risk Index 2015
- Briefing Note No. 6: Climate Change and Development in Africa IVth conference
- Briefing Note No. 7: Climate change, violence and young people
- Briefing Note No. 8: Lebanon Climate-Fragility Risk Brief
- Briefing Note No. 9: Egypt Climate-Fragility Risk Brief
- Briefing Note No. 10: Honduras Climate-Fragility Risk Brief
- Briefing Note No. 11: Somalia Climate-Fragility Risk Brief
- Briefing Note No. 12: Tajikistan Climate-Fragility Risk Brief
- Briefing Note No. 13: Afghanistan Climate-Fragility Risk Brief
- Briefing Note No. 14: Myanmar Climate-Fragility Risk Brief
- Briefing Note No. 15: Promoting Climate-Resilient Peacebuilding in Fragile States