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Discussing climate security: EU climate diplomacy goes Talanoa

Beach in Fiji

The Fiji Presidency of the last climate conference initiated the Talanoa Dialogue - a global stocktaking process that will be rolled out throughout 2018. Drawing on the “Talanoa” tradition of inclusive, participatory and transparent dialogue, it “involves the sharing of ideas, skills and experience through storytelling.” 

It is in this spirit that the European Parliament (EP) has drafted a report on climate diplomacy that is now open for consultation. The report recognizes climate change as a complex threat that should increasingly shape European foreign policy, and calls for greater parliamentary involvement. Stepped-up engagement of parliamentarians is indeed in the interest of climate diplomacy, and likewise, the drafting process contributes to a more participatory and inclusive approach.

EU climate diplomacy promises to become even more participatory as the European Economic and Social Committee convenes a broad consultation conference to launch the European Dialogue on Non-State Climate Action later this month in Brussels (23 April). The event “seeks to promote the common voice of non-state actors” and is meant to boost bottom-up initiatives.

The narrative that is gaining traction in this broader context concerns the security implications of climate change: The most recent EU Council Conclusions on Climate Diplomacy of 26 February 2018 use unusually nuanced and detailed language on climate security. Taking this further, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, will convene a high-level event on 22 June 2018 to discuss responses to the destabilizing effects of climate change.

The EP draft report calls for the development of a comprehensive climate diplomacy strategy that addresses, in particular, the climate-security nexus. Such a roadmap should include enhanced capacities at the European External Action Service (EEAS) to deal with the nexus, and improved systematic efforts to integrate climate security concerns into overall policy action. The draft report is a necessary and welcome step that moves EU policy into the right direction – aided by the joint drafting approach of both the EU’s environmental (ENVI) and foreign policy (AFET) committees.

The EP draft report’s language could be even more ambitious and specific. Concrete steps would include demanding systematic and integrated training on climate security implications or augmenting funding for climate action through its Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP) and thereby strengthening the preventive approach of EU external action. As pointed out by adelphi’s director Alexander Carius at a recent EP consultation, in this way the EU would provide a greater contribution to preventing the next crises before they break out – implementing exactly what the EU Global Strategy has asked for, namely to mitigate the risks of climate change, which it has identified as a “threat multiplier”.

Ultimately, the EU needs to make sure that Talanoa means not only a well-executed dialogue and a story well told, but that it leads to a world well conserved.


The article was edited by Stella Schaller (adelphi).