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Editor’s Pick: 10 Climate Diplomacy Stories of 2018

Climate diplomacy has been picking up momentum in 2018. Firstly, a major focus in diplomatic negotiations – be it closed-door or public meetings – was the ‘Talanoa Dialogue,' the UN’s facilitative process to help review progress towards the goals of the Paris Agreement ahead of COP24. Secondly, as harsh climate impacts become visible around the world, the security and foreign policy implications of climate change gained recognition. With the launch of The Hague Declaration on Planetary Security, for instance, the international community has set out priorities to move from analysis to action.

The EU has been a frontrunner on both issues, convening a high-level conference with its foreign affairs chief Frederica Mogherini, stepping up parliamentary support, and involving non-state actors around the world. Asian giants such as India and China also climbed up the climate diplomacy ladder and contributed to advancing interesting new initiatives. Germany announced that it would prioritize climate security during its UN Security Council presidency, after Sweden recently held the first Council debate since 2011. California, by hosting the Global Climate Action Summit, acted as a flag-bearer for climate – at a time when the national government is challenging multilateralism. 

To celebrate Climate Diplomacy Week 2018, we collected our best climate diplomacy stories of the year. Travel with us from Brussels to The Hague, Rio de Janeiro, New Delhi, Beijing and San Francisco!


By Benjamin Pohl

The links between climate change and security have started entering regional resolutions through the UN Security Council. Germany, elected for a seat on the Council in 2019-20, will again prioritize climate-related security risks as one of its main agendas. What prospects does a renewed engagement on climate security risks offer and is there scope for preventive participation?


By Erik Solheim and William Lacy Swing

Population pressure, a lack of economic opportunities, environmental degradation and new forms of travel are contributing to human displacement and unsafe migration on an unprecedented scale. And as millions more people see climate change erode their livelihoods, the problem will get worse in the absence of visionary global leadership.


By adelphi

At the Planetary Security Conference attended by 350 participants, the leading lights of the climate and security community launched an unprecedented declaration to catalyse action in the field. The Hague Declaration is a six point plan, ranging from establishing a UN envoy on climate security to concrete actions in the most vulnerable countries, including Mali and Iraq.


By Arne Lietz and Rosa Beckmann

Until now, no one had seriously doubted that relations between the US and Europe would continue on a secure footing, despite all the difficulties and conflicts they have undergone. Ever since Trump was elected as US President, however, the atmosphere has changed. The re-nationalization of the world order has gained speed and is making clear how far advanced global interdependencies have become.


By Raquel Munayer

In May 2018, the Brazilian Institute for Climate and Society and the German Embassy in Brazil hosted an event on international climate and security in Rio de Janeiro. The meeting, joined by experts from the public sector, civil society and international think tanks, reflects Latin America’s increased interest in the international dimension of climate fragility risks.


By European External Action Service

In June, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini hosted an unprecedented high level event - Climate, Peace and Security: The Time for Action - which drove home both the urgency and importance of tackling the risks that climate change poses to security and peace.


By Dhanasree Jayaram

The International Solar Alliance being India’s brainchild as well as the first UN-sponsored and treaty-based international alliance to be headquartered in India, presents an opportunity for the country to redefine the global climate order. Dhanasree Jayaram argues that it will help India in leveraging its stature as a responsible global player to expand its sphere of influence.


By Stella Schaller

To shift humanity onto a sustainable path and secure peace, transformative change is required – globally. The UN’s 17 SDGs serve as critical guardrails. But what is the role of foreign policy in the implementation of these goals and what are the side-effects that diplomacy must be aware of? At the UN High-level Political Forum, experts analyzed the geopolitical implications of the SDGs and discussed why foreign policy need to engage with them.


By Lou del Bello

As the world's biggest polluter, what China decides to do with its energy policy matters to the whole planet. And while progress on the domestic front has rightly won Beijing praise from climate scientists, China is the world's largest funder of coal plants overseas. Is the country employing double standards?


By Dennis Tänzler

Soon international and local leaders from states, regions, cities, businesses, investors and civil society will gather in San Francisco to attend the Global Climate Action Summit. The Summit brings together international state- and non-state actors to put the globe on track to prevent dangerous climate change and realize the historic Paris Agreement.