Climate change is a threat to peace and security
We know that climate change is one of the 21st century’s most pervasive global threats to peace and security. It touches all areas of security, peacebuilding and development. Its impacts have already increased the insecurity of vulnerable communities, particularly in fragile and conflict-affected contexts. In these struggling communities, the effects of climate change can adversely affect food security, human mobility, economic growth, and political stability. Negative climate impacts such as water shortages or falling crop yields interact political, social, and economic stresses to compound existing tensions. In turn, violent conflict and political instability leave communities poorer, less resilient, and ill equipped to cope with the consequences of climate change. This vicious cycle can catch and keep countries and communities in a climate-conflict trap of increasing fragility and vulnerability.
Strengthening resilience to climate-fragility risks
To address these challenges, the UN Security Council, the African Union, the G7 and many others have appealed for improved global analysis and strengthened action at the local level. And UN Environment and the European Union are responding to the call, joining forces to create a toolkit that helps crisis- and conflict-affected countries tackle the effects of climate change.
Building on the newest research and lessons learned from the emerging field of climate change and security, the toolkit helps policy-makers and practitioners by linking the conceptual framework with hands-on tools that are easy and ready to use, e.g. a conflict sensitivity checklist, mapping approaches, and conflict analysis tools. It is a key pillar of the four-year project Climate Change and Security (2017-2021). The project is supported by the EU’s Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace, and has been developed in partnership with adelphi. In the two pilot countries, Sudan and Nepal, the project is teaming up with Practical Action for implementation activities at the national and local level.
Integrating climate change adaptation, peacebuilding and sustainable livelihoods
The toolkit should help local and national decision-makers take a more holistic approach to preventing and resolving conflict: to date, responses to climate change have failed to address the full range of knock-on effects. Most climate change programmes do not address conflict and ignore future conflict impacts, while most peacebuilding programmes do not take climate risks into account. As a result, development organizations frequently design separate programmes for climate change adaptation and peacebuilding, sometimes with conflicting objectives.
We need to move away from these fragmented responses and disconnected approaches need to be overcome. Three entry points are of particular relevance to link climate change adaptation, peacebuilding and sustainable livelihoods:
- the sustainable management of natural resources;
- developing sustainable livelihoods for vulnerable and marginalised population groups; and
- strengtheninginclusive governance.