Nexus Brief: Climate Change & Environment x Fragility and Conflict

Environmental degradation, exacerbated by climate change, does not automatically lead to conflict. But it can affect drivers of conflict such as low rural incomes, livelihood systems or food insecurity, becoming threat a potent threat multiplier and increasing fragility.

Violent conflicts are increasing in number and intensity. Most are occurring in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, and are the result of complex interactions among multiple factors, including some related to the environment. Environmental degradation, exacerbated by climate change, does not automatically lead to conflict, but can affect such drivers of conflict as low rural incomes or food insecurity. Where society, institutions and governments are unable to manage the challenges related to these drivers, the risk of conflict increases. States of fragility often find themselves in this situation, but further research is necessary to better understand the relationships among the environment, climate change,
fragility and conflict.

Numerous international actors, including the UN General Assembly, the UN Security Council, NATO, OSCE, the European Union, the African Union and the G7, have recognised the nexus of environment, climate change, fragility and conflict. A dedicated international process on this nexus could improve the common understanding of the dynamics at work in the same way that the Nansen Initiative responded to the challenges of displacement in the context of disasters and climate change.

The key to reducing the risk of conflict is a preventive approach. Managing shared water resources can increase confidence across borders, prevent conflicts and promote peace. Development cooperation can support local and national measures for sustainable agriculture, land restitution and democratic institutions.Countries with a history of armed conflict have an increased risk of falling back into conflict. Where environmental factors are root causes or underlying reasons leading to the outbreak of an armed conflict, these factors need to be adequately addressed in conflict resolution and in respective peace agreements.

[This description was extracted from the document's key messages]