New G7 Report Highlights Climate Change and Fragility as a Foreign Policy Priority

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    At the close of a meeting of G7 foreign ministers in Lübeck today, ministers announced a stronger collective commitment to tackling climate-related risks in states experiencing situations of fragility.

    “Climate change is among the most serious challenges facing our world,” the ministers’ final communiqué declared. “It poses a threat to the environment, global security, and economic prosperity. It has the potential to reverse the progress that has been made in the past decades in tackling global poverty. Without adequate mitigation and adaptation efforts, the impacts of rising temperatures and changing precipitation patterns heighten the risk of instability and conflict. We must effectively address this challenge.”

    The G7 are responsible for almost two thirds of global development funding

    In preparation, an independent consultancy working on behalf of the G7 looked into the relationship between climate change and fragile and conflict-affected states. The resulting report, A New Climate for Peace: Taking Action on Climate and Fragility Risks, was presented to German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier yesterday in Berlin.

    “I am delighted that this report has delivered a basis upon which we can develop common measures and give impetus to internationally-orientated processes,” Steinmeier said. “This is particularly important in light of the upcoming climate conference in Paris.”

    The independent report, authored by adelphi, the European Union Institute for Security Studies, International Alert, and the Wilson Center, identifies seven climate-related risks to peace and security and recommends concrete actions that foreign ministers can take to increase the resilience of fragile and conflict-affected states.

    Stronger Cooperation Needed

    The report recommends G7 governments develop and implement integrated approaches to climate diplomacy. For this to occur, each foreign ministry should approach climate and fragility-related risks with urgency and work together to agree on foreign policy approaches to climate issues.

    The G7 governments are together responsible for half of global economic output and almost two thirds of global development funding. They are thus in a unique position to take the lead in developing integrated political processes – not ad hoc measures – to tackle climate and fragility risks.

    “Climate change poses complex challenges that require integrated responses,” said Roger-Mark De Souza, a contributing author to the report and director of population, environment, and security at the Wilson Center. “The G7 commissioning this report indicates a critical step forward in responding to the threats posed by climate change and harnessing the significant co-benefits that can be reaped by coordinating responses across sectors.”

    7 Compound Risks

    “This report is significant for going beyond questions of climate change and conflict links to identify a wider range of critical climate change and fragility connections that fits squarely on foreign policy agendas,” said Geoff Dabelko, a report author, ECSP senior advisor, and director of environmental studies at Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs. “The analysis matches these compound risks with ongoing policy initiatives and suggests ways to advance climate change, development, and peacebuilding efforts.”

    “The analysis matches these compound risks with ongoing policy initiatives”

    A New Climate for Peace identifies seven compound risks that make climate change a serious threat to countries in fragile situations: local resource competition; livelihood insecurity and migration; extreme weather events and disasters; volatile food prices and provision; transboundary water management; seal-level rise and coastal degradation; and unintended consequences of climate policies.

    “The various compound risks are interlinked and, as a result, climate change is a complicated challenge,” explained adelphi’s Lukas Rüttinger, one of the authors. The greatest threats from such risks are faced by states experiencing situations of fragility, but excessive pressure or sharp shocks are capable of pushing even stable states into fragility.

    To host the report and related resources, adelphi, the European Union Institute for Security Studies, International Alert, and the Wilson Center are launching a web portal at NewClimateforPeace.org. You can find the executive summary here, with the full report to follow in the coming weeks. You can also find posts from New Security Beat on the site’s new blog, Resilience Compass.

    Photo Credit: Johnson Space Center/NASA.