ECC Platform Library

 

Land Conflict in the Philippines

Type of conflict main
Intensity 2
Region
South Eastern Asia
Time 1944 ‐ ongoing
Countries Philippines
Resources Agricultural / Pastoral Land, Forests
Conflict Summary Land distribution has been a salient issue for decades in the Philippines. In recent years though, population growth and degradation of productive land has...
Land Conflict in the Philippines
Land distribution has been a salient issue for decades in the Philippines. In recent years though, population growth and degradation of productive land has led to increased stress and tensions between small farmers, wealthy landlords and the state.
Conceptual Model

Climate Change

Changes in weather patterns have further increased land scarcity by significantly degrading agricultural land, and thus affecting rural livelihoods.

Intermediary Mechanisms

Changes in weather patterns have further increased land scarcity by significantly degrading agricultural land, and thus affecting rural livelihoods.

Fragility and Conflict Risks

Farmers’ protests to obtain rights to land have often been met with violence from landlords and security forces. Cases of landlords using violent and coercive means to evict tenants with the help of local public authorities have also been reported.

Climate ChangeEnvironmental ChangeIntermediary MechanismsFragility and Conflict RisksSocial and Economic DriversMore frequent/intense extreme weather events reduce available land.Demographic changes increase pressures on available land resources.Demographic changes lead to environmental degradation.Economic developments lead to changes in land use.Economic activity causes pollution.Changes in land use lead to migration/displacements.Changes in land use reduce available/usable land.Land scarcity undermines the livelihoods of agricultural producers.Pollution reduces available/usable land.Migration leads to conflicts between migrants and residents.Problems related to migration/displacements lead to growing discontent with the state.Livelihood insecurity fuels grievances between groups.Livelihood insecurity leads to growing discontent with the state.An increase in the frequency and/or intensity of extreme weather events, such as floods or droughts.More Frequent / Intense Extreme Weather EventsReduced availability of/ access to land.Increased Land ScarcityChange in population density, age structure, or ethnic makeup.Demographic ChangePollution and degradation of ecosystems, such as coral reefs.Pollution / Environmental DegradationA broad concept to cover economic growth in general but also specific economic changes or changes of incentives.Economic DevelopmentA change in the usage of environmentally relevant land.Land Use Change(In)voluntary long and short-term movements of people within or across state boundaries.Displacements / MigrationA threat or destruction of livelihoods dependent on the availability of environmental resources / goods.Livelihood InsecurityNon-violent or violent tensions and conflicts between different societal groups.Grievances between Societal GroupsChallenge to the state's legitimacy, ranging from peaceful protest to violent attempts at overthrowing the government.Anti-State Grievances
Context Factors
  • Unequal Land Distribution
  • Elite Exploitation
  • Political Marginalization
Conflict History

Since the colonisation of the Philippines in the 16th century, the agrarian system has been characterised by a growing concentration of land ownership. The colonial system promoted large agricultural properties and discarded small-scale agriculture, disrupting the livelihoods of native farmers (Corpuz, 1992; Kahl, 2006). However, after Philippine independence in 1946, this highly skewed land distribution persisted. Peasant uprisings, requesting land redistribution and greater social justice, have thus been recurrent (Rieginger, 1995). Land issues are crucial for the Philippines, as  agriculture is an essential livelihood and difficult access to land tenure is correlated with poverty, a mainly rural phenomenon (ADB, 2009; Binswanger-Mkhize et al, 2009; Tadem, 2015). Farmers’ protests to obtain rights to land have often been met with violence from landlords and security forces.

Rural populations affected by increasing land scarcity
Land in the Philippines is overexploited due to two simultaneous trends: population growth and land degradation. Falling from roughly 3% in the 1960s, the population growth rate in the Philippines is still high, as it has remained consistently above 1.5% every year since 2000 (World Bank, 2016). The quantity of available land per person is thus continuously reduced. As a result, the rural poor have been moving to the uplands where land is ill-suited for agriculture. Cultivation of these fragile lands has led to their ecological degradation, thus increasing land scarcity even further (Kennedy, 2001; Kahl, 2006). Many farmers deprived from their sole livelihood have migrated to the cities, where they often end up as squatters in informal settlements (USAID, 2011).

As a solution to high population growth and land shortages, agricultural intensification policies have been put in place. They have improved land productivity, but also damaged agricultural land (Briones, 2005). Moreover, deforestation in the Philippines has occurred at one of the most rapid rates in the world, driven by population growth and agricultural conversion, but also by large scale logging of wood meant for export. This, in turn, has led to dramatic consequences: destroyed topsoil, disrupted water flows and frequent landslides (USAID, 2011; Kahl, 2006).

Additionally, the Philippines are affected by changes in weather patterns, which also have a significant impact on rural livelihoods. For example, some 37,000 farmers have suffered from hunger after an El Nino-related drought degraded their land in 2015 (Ty, 2016).

These issues are further compounded by the highly skewed distribution of land. Whilst some wealthy landlords in the Philippines own large plantations, including the most productive swathes of land, about 70% of farmers are landless (USAID, 2011). Corruption and resource appropriation by powerful elites reinforce this situation (You, 2014). Rural farmer communities often cultivate land owned by the state and wealthy landlords (Vargas, 2003). This system contributes to livelihood insecurity, as it facilitates the acquisition of large land plots by foreign investors, and makes rural populations very vulnerable to evictions (Oxfam, 2014, see also Land Grabbing in the Philippines).

Farmers’ fight for equal land distribution
Over the last decades, farmers in the Philippines have repeatedly asked for secure land rights and urged lawmakers to pursue agrarian reforms. Protesters have, however, often been considered as criminals and their demands have been answered with violence. For instance, in 1987, as farmers marched and demanded genuine land reforms, security forces killed 13 protesters (Curaming, 2013; Pagulong, 2012; Manahan, 2014; Tadem, 2016).

Relations between landlords and tenants have also been strained and cases of landlords using coercive means to evict tenants with the help of local public authorities have been reported: harassment, incarceration and killing of many farmers asserting their rights to land (Tadem, 2016).

Resolution Efforts

From CARP to CARPER: A long-lasting agrarian reform
Legal reforms are essential to improve the situation of farmers in the Philippines. Throughout the 20th century, Philippine governments made successive attempts to reform land ownership, albeit without achieving satisfying results (Dolan, 1991). Efforts to address the land issue continued after colonial independence, the latest to date and most controversial being the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). The CARP was implemented in 1988 for a ten-year period to promote a more equitable distribution of land and improve productivity, income as well as farmers’ self-reliability. Thus, the reform consisted mainly of public and private land redistribution in favour of landless farmers. The state has been buying land from landlords, to then sell it to landless farmers at a price they could afford (Binswanger-Mkhize et al, 2009). However, important delays of the reform, due to financial and technical difficulties, made it necessary to extend the programme in 1998 and again in 2009 (Valencia, 2015).

In an attempt to address the shortfalls of the programme, the Philippine government launched, with the support of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and the German Technical Cooperation Agency (GTZ), the CARPER - CARP Extension with Reforms - reform in 2009 (Flores-Obanil, 2010). Compared to the CARP, it contains more favourable provisions for farmers, as it acknowledged, among other points, the indefeasibility of awarded beneficiary lands and women’s rights to land, and is committed to faster land attributions. However, the law still contains provisions that impede the efficiency of the programme, such as a transaction scheme remaining more convenient for landlords than for small farmers (Olea, 2009; Tadem, 2015; Focusweb, 2015).

Therefore, while the CARPER reform formally ended in 2014, its success is still subject to debate. The government claims that it has distributed an equivalent of 88% of the total land subject to the programme and has ensured that even after expiration, the planned distribution would be completed (Official Gazette, 2014). Meanwhile, heated discussions on a third extension have been ongoing, further opposing landowners and farmers (The Philippines Star, 2015; InterAksyon, 2015).

Mixed outcomes of the agrarian reform
Debated success
Several studies funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the European Union (EU) assessing the initial twelve years of the programme concluded that it had a positive impact on land ownership and poverty reduction (FAO, 2002; Binswanger-Mkhize et al, 2009). Other studies, however, put the positive economic impact of the reform into question (e.g. Gordoncillo, 2012).
On the other hand, many civil society actors have judged the reform a failure and have denounced a ‘pro-landlord’ bias, stating that the CARP aimed at providing compensation to landlords rather than promoting effective land redistribution (Sonny Africa, 2006; Tadem, 2016; Yap, 2015). The programme has presumably also had different impacts across regions, as, in some areas, vast plantations have remained unaffected to avoid production shortfalls (De Lataillade et al., 2006; Banzuela et al., 2015).

Conflicts within civil society
Attempts to mitigate high inequalities within Philippine society have generally been hampered by wealthy landlords, unwilling to see their land taken, even with appropriate compensation. The distribution process planned by the agrarian reform has thus been slowed down by their resistance, which occurred through evictions and harassment of CARP(ER) beneficiaries (Tadem, 2016). Clashes have also appeared among farmers as some land plots have been reattributed from small holders to landless farmers (Banzuela et al., 2015). A group of civil society organisations (CSOs) conducted an international fact-finding mission on human rights violations in the Philippines related to this agrarian reform and pointed out big landowners’ abuses and the State’s failure in protecting rural populations (IFFM, 2006).

Furthermore, the reform has encouraged farmers to fight for their rights to land. They have brought their claims to court as landlords’ opposition has often hindered the land redistribution process. Many cases were filed calling on the DAR to effectively implement the agrarian law. While sometimes successful, farmers were often restrained by landowners, filing complaints against them on assumed trumped up charges and in an attempt to delegitimise their fight. Small farmers tend to lose their cases even with sufficient material evidence, since landlords use of their influence on the judiciary, deepening the asymmetry of power (Morilla and Corpuz, 2010; Olea, 2014). The CSOs formerly mentioned recommended to end criminalisation of agrarian reform cases as they mostly discriminate against the farmers (IFFM, 2006).  

Cooperation and empowering opportunities for farmers
CARP(ER) beneficiaries are often confronted with lack of financial support and services, making it difficult to enter the market and compete with large farms. They have sometimes no other option but to sell their land back to the former landholder. To overcome this problem, farmers are gathering in cooperatives to pool resources. The Land Bank of the Philippines is indeed more inclined to offer loans to organised farmers (Banzuela et al., 2015). Cooperatives often appear successful in ensuring farmers’ independence from large landholders and in improving their economic opportunities (Araullo, 2006), suggesting that this method could be replicated on a larger scale to further reduce land inequalities in the Philippines (Quilloy, 2015; The Philippines Star, 2015).

Through the successive stages of the reform, public consultations at national and regional levels have been implemented, improving transparency and giving a voice to the different interests involved (Flores-Obanil, 2010). Further inclusion of all members of the society in the reform process can be supported by CSOs, which have showed to be successful in uniting communities and raising awareness to resonate with decision makers (Banzuela et al., 2015). The Philippines have numerous thriving CSOs, with skills in network capacity building and important links to government officials. As recommended by the Asian Development Bank, these organisations should be trained further and supported in building strong systems of internal governance in order to have a strong positive impact (ADB, 2013).

New political hopes for a successful reform
The new government coming into office on June 30, 2016 represents great hopes for farmers. Many harshly criticised the poor management of the agrarian reform under the outgoing Aquino’s government. Thus, the designation of Rafael ‘Ka Paeng’ Mariano as secretary of agrarian reform under the incoming Duterte’s government resonates as good news since he comes from a peasant family himself. Mariano was chairman of the main Philippine Peasant Movement Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), where he blamed the CARP for strongly degrading the situation of farmers. He even stated that 664 farmers were killed as a result of this reform while asserting their rights (Cervantes, 2014). In his new role, Mariano has already announced a review of agrarian law in favour of small holders’ interests. Departing from prevalent policies, including the controversial CARPER reform, might however prove to be difficult (Tadem, 2016; Billones, 2016). 

Intensities & Influences
conflict intensity scale
Intensities
International / Geopolitical Intensity
Human Suffering

Influences
Environmental Influences
Societal Influences

Manifest Crisis
Fatalities
13
Violent Conflict Yes
Salience within nation National
Resources
Agricultural / Pastoral Land, Forests
Resolution Success
Reduction in Violence Violence reduced significantly, but did not cede.
Reduction in geographical scope There has been no reduction in geographical scope.
Increased capacity to address grievance in the future The capacity to address grievances in the future has increased.
Grievance Resolution Grievances have been partially addressed.
Causal Attribution of Decrease in Conflict Intensity Conflict resolution strategies have been clearly responsible for the decrease in conflict intensity.
General opencollapse
Country Data in Comparison
ConflictNoData Created with Sketch.
Fault Lines Defining Conflict Parties
Purely Environmental | Cultural   ♦   Occupational   ♦   Economic   ♦   Urban / Rural   ♦   National / International conflict   ♦   Sub-national political


Actors
Participation Conflict Party     Conflict Resolution Facilitator
Farmers (Philippines)
Functional GroupCivil Society
Geographical ScaleInternal Grassroots
Landlords (Philippines)
Functional GroupCivil Society
Geographical ScaleInternal Grassroots
Government of the Philippines
Functional GroupPublic
Geographical ScaleInternal National
Department of Agrarian Reform - DAR (Philippines)
Functional GroupPublic
Geographical ScaleInternal National
Civil Society Organisations (Philippines)
Functional GroupCivil Society
Geographical ScaleInternal National
German Technical Cooperation Agency - GTZ
Functional GroupPublic
Geographical ScaleExternal
Entry Points for Resilience and Peace Building
1 Mediation & arbitration Farmers have filed claims in court demanding the implementation of an agrarian law and against landlords who have hindered the land distribution process. However, small farmers tend to lose their cases due to corruption and the asymmetry of power between landlords and farmers.
2 Social inclusion & empowerment Farmers are gathering in cooperatives to pool resources and improve their economic opportunities by applying for loans, thus ensuring their independence from large landholders. This method could be replicated on a larger scale to further reduce land inequalities in the Philippines.
3 Strengthening legislation and law enforcement The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) was implemented in 1988 to promote a more equitable distribution of land and improve productivity. In an attempt to address the shortfalls of the programme, the German Technical Cooperation Agency (GTZ, now GIZ) supported the Philippine government in the elaboration of the CARP Extension with Reforms (CARPER) in 2009. While the reform contained more favourable provisions for farmers, its success is still being debated after its completion in 2014.
2 Promoting social change The Philippines has numerous thriving civil society organisations (CSOs), with skills in network capacity building and important links to government officials, which should be trained further to have a strong positive impact. Thanks to these CSOs, the state has made efforts to include local communities into decision-making processes.
Further Details opencollapse
Conflict Characterization
Character of the contested good Private good: Can be owned and is depleted from use.
Structure of decision-making power / interdependence Asymmetric: The power to affect the environmental resource is unequal.
Broad conflict characterization Resource Capture is present.
Ecological Marginalization is strongly present.
Data of involved Countries
Resources and Materials opencollapse
Conflict References References with URL

References without URL
Kahl, C. (2006). States, Scarcity, and Civil Strife in the Developing World. Princeton University Press. Chapter 3: 65-116.
Dolan, R.E. (1991). Philippines: A Country Study. Washington: GPO for the Library of Congress.
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Topics

Adaptation & Resilience

All countries will need to adapt to some of the environmental, social and economic impacts of climate change that are already unavoidable. Food security, livelihoods, water resource availability and public health are some affected areas. People living in poverty are more vulnerable, having a lower capacity to adapt. Thus, it is essential to promote resilience building. The adaptation and resilience aspects need to be mainstreamed into planning by policy makers and the private sector as well as integrated into development strategies.

Biodiversity & Livelihoods

Nature protection is most sustainable if it essentially contributes to the long-term stability of human needs. Today many regions around the world are confronted with increasing destruction of the natural foundations of life. The consequences of wide-ranging resource destruction are no longer regionally limited, but rather represent a global threat. Those affected are mainly rural populations, who find the sources of their income and the foundations of their way of life swept away. The depletion and destruction of natural resources goes hand in hand with decreasing agricultural yields and increasing poverty, which in turn forces the affected populations to deplete the remaining resources.

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Capacity Building

On the one hand, conflicts are caused by structural factors, such as economic and social inequality or environmental destruction. On the other hand, conflicts are fuelled by a lack of democratic structures, deficient mechanisms of non-violent conflict settlement, inadequate rule of law, the destruction of social and cultural identity and the disregard of human rights. Against this backdrop, development policies have been dedicated to a broad concept of security, which comprises political, economic, ecological and social stability. As a consequence, development cooperation agencies and actors have developed a broad spectrum of approaches for conflict prevention and transformation as well as for sustainable use of natural resources.

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Cities

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Civil Society

Civil society is the first victim of environmental pollution, under-development and conflicts. Economically disadvantaged and politically marginalized population groups are particularly affected by violent conflicts as well as increasing resource degradation. Simultaneously, civil society is a fundamental pillar for implementing sustainable development. It contributes in many ways to strengthening conflict prevention and plays a significant role in the peaceful and democratic development of states. It must be supported to strengthen civil rights, adherence to human rights in general and democratic participation.

Climate Change

Climate change resulting from the emission of greenhouse gases represents one of the vital challenges for international environmental policy. Flooding, droughts, shifting of climate zones and increasingly frequent and intense extreme weather events will have serious economic and social consequences for entire regions. The climate problem is also directly linked to the question of future energy generation.

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Climate Diplomacy

To address the challenges posed by climate change, a new profile of climate diplomacy is evolving. This utilises a full range of policies, including development cooperation, conflict prevention efforts, and humanitarian assistance, in addition to more traditional measures of climate change adaptation and mitigation. Moving from a risk analysis of climate-related threats to well-timed preventive action requires a greater commitment to integrating climate change concerns into development, foreign, and security policies. Examples include strengthening diplomatic networks, building new alliances with partners, and raising awareness – not only of potentially negative climate change impacts, but also of opportunities to embark on a sustainable transformation of our societies.

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Co-Benefits

Climate action entails an array of economic, social, political and environmental co-benefits. It provides an opportunity for economic growth and new jobs. Many investments can take into account climate considerations without becoming more costly. Further important co-benefits include: improved energy security, less local air and water pollution, health benefits as well as ecosystem and biodiversity protection.

Conflict Transformation

In order to overcome the structural causes of violent conflicts and thus bring about an improvement in the framework conditions for peaceful and fair development, it is essential to have long term and broadly planned peace development and peace advancement. Various governmental and non-governmental, national and international actors and groups are involved in these processes.

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Development

Climate change and development are inextricably linked. Climate change endangers the development agenda and has the potential to reverse development goals. Furthermore, successful mitigation of climate change heavily depends on development choices around the world. Therefore, development strategies need to be climate-compatible to provide long-term success, and there are viable policy options that support this compatibility. Many mitigation and adaptation activities can present development opportunities to developing countries and avoid the lock-in to environmentally damaging technologies.

Early Warning & Risk Analysis

The reasons for the development and escalation of conflicts and the incidence of risks are multifaceted and complex. Simultaneously, the assessment of the specific causes in the form of risk and conflict analyses can contribute to a better understanding of these processes and make it possible to provide warning of negative developments, or ideally help prevent them. In the context of natural resource use, risks and conflicts have gained increasing attention in the past years. The debate on possible future water wars is merely one example.

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Energy

The well-being of individuals, communities and nations depends on the availability of energy resources. The gap between energy supply and demand appears to be growing, making the world vulnerable to serious economic shocks. At the same time, the burning of fossil fuels causing climate change is one of the vital challenges of international environmental policy. So far, only rudimentary approaches exist for shaping climate and energy security in a sustainable way. The components of a strategy that can contribute to reducing vulnerabilities related to climate change and energy policy include a greater role for renewable energies, the improvement of energy efficiency and a stronger decentralisation of energy supply.

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Environment & Migration

The economic, social and environmental consequences of climate change aggravate the breakdown of eco-system-dependent livelihoods and are likely to become dominant drivers of long-term migration. Natural disasters already cause massive shorter-term displacement and the number of temporarily displaced people is likely to further increase with climate change. For vulnerable populations in vulnerable regions, such as the Sahel zone or the Ganges delta, migration often becomes the sole survival strategy. In order to address climate-related displacement and migration successfully, knowledge of effective adaptation and an improved understanding of how environmental change affects human mobility is essential. 

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Finance

Climate finance, from all sources, plays a key role in supporting and enabling adaptation and mitigation action as well as climate and energy innovation. The Paris Agreement ensured that the Green Climate Fund and the Global Environment Facility are at the core of climate finance architecture as entities entrusted with the operation of the Financial Mechanism of the UNFCCC. Increasing climate finance from all relevant public and private sources is crucial. Furthermore, much needs to be done to redirect finance flows to sustainable paths, e.g. reducing fossil fuel subsidies, introducing maritime and air transportation taxes. The conditions for green investment in developing countries should also be improved.

Forests

Forests are disappearing at an alarming rate. Competition for forest resources triggers, exacerbates, or finances numerous crises and conflicts in tropical developing countries. Illegal logging and timber trade foster instability and sometimes violent conflict by strengthening illegal and armed groups, increasing corruption and exacerbating use and claim conflicts among local communities, the state and the business sector. Forests are a vital resource to poor people but they can also become areas of conflict. Sustainable management of forest resources is therefore key to preventing violent conflict over and within forests.

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Gender

Gender plays an important role as a category of conflict for many reasons. The interlinkages between gender, environment and conflicts are complex and much research is still needed. Existing insights suggest that conflicts may worsen gender inequalities that existed before the outbreak of violence. The unequal distribution of land property rights in many parts of the world serves as an example. Moreover, women (and children) are among those most affected by both violent conflict and natural disasters. At the same time, women carry much of the burden of trying to implement rehabilitation measures after crisis events.

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Land & Food

Increasing water scarcity, desertification and crop failures due to extreme weather events are becoming more and more of a threat to global food production. While the world’s population continues to grow rapidly, food production is unable to keep pace. Due to the global food crisis in 2008, the number of hungry people reached the symbolic one billion threshold for the first time – corresponding to about 16 percent of world population. Food insecurity may be a consequence or cause of conflicts. Violent conflicts often lead to the destruction of agricultural infrastructure and means of production, as well as to the displacement of local communities.

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Minerals & Mining

In the past, the discovery and tapping of valuable or strategic resources like valuable minerals, oil and natural gas, particularly in developing and emerging countries, has often led to large scale environmental contamination and negative development. The "resource curse" of some countries shows that the wealth from resource yields is frequently unfairly distributed; instead of serving development it advanced the formation of corrupt elites and in some cases even led to conflicts and civil wars. Measures in various sectors and at all levels are important in order to use the potential of these natural resources in a manner that is sustainable and prevents conflicts.

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Private Sector

The spread of violent conflict not only affects people but also companies located in such regions. Destruction of investments and infrastructure, collapse of markets and trade partnerships, flight and expulsion of employees are phenomena of conflicts and environment-induced crises that directly affect companies in unstable regions. Almost all branches of the economy thus have a clear interest in a stable and peaceful environment for their activities. Conversely, the business sector plays an important role in the interaction of economic growth, social development and a healthy environment, all of which can advance peace and sustainable development. 

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Security

Environmental issues have a significant security dimension. Access to, and overuse of, natural resources often play a key role in civil wars or other forms of internal domestic conflict. This is compounded by climate change and environmental degradation. Climate change is now widely recognised as a non-traditional, risk-multiplying threat that will have increasing security impacts. Key risks with possible implications for human and national security include water scarcity, food crises, natural disasters, and displacement. More preventive diplomacy and advocacy is needed to address the strategic implications of climate and environmental change.

Sustainable Transformation

Sustainable Transformation allows societies to profit from a growing, environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive economy – especially in emerging and developing countries. This requires a higher up-front investment, but the benefits of a sustainable transformation in the medium and long term are significant. For instance, energy cost savings and reducing the impact of price volatility offer major incentives for deploying renewable energies and promoting energy efficiency. Such benefits exist in all key sectors of the economy.

Technology & Innovation

Innovations and technologies are already readily available and affordable but their global diffusion and uptake remains a challenge. Innovation and technology are crucial to achieving ambitious climate change mitigation and adaptation targets. However, research and development often do not receive appropriate public support. Developing countries can leapfrog high-carbon industrialisation phases by adopting, deploying and improving existing innovations and technologies. For this, it is essential to minimise financial, administrative and political barriers.

Water

The availability of freshwater resources in sufficient quantity and quality is essential for the preservation of human health and sound ecosystems. The use of water resources is also vital, however, for economic development: whether for agriculture, industrial production or for electricity generation. The world's freshwater resources are distributed very unevenly in terms of geography and seasons. In addition, water shortage is becoming more prevalent in several regions due to population growth, economic development, urbanisation and increasing environmental pollution. Thus, water resources can hold potential for conflicts between parties who have different interests and needs.

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Regions

Asia

The environment in Asia is already under tremendous pressure as a result of the unsustainable use of land, forests, water and even air in many regions. Climate change will only exacerbate these challenges. Rising sea levels will likely endanger densely populated areas, changes in the monsoon patterns can strongly impact agriculture, melting glaciers will increase long-term water scarcity, and extreme weather events such as heavy rainfall and cyclones can pose further hazards.

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Central America & Caribbean

Natural disasters and water scarcity are key challenges for most of Central America and the Caribbean. These challenges will become even more pronounced as the climate changes. Weak resource and disaster risk management and land disputes pose additional security challenges for large parts of the region. Several countries of Central America and the Caribbean have limited adaptive capacities as they face political instability caused by high social inequality, crime, corruption, and intra-state conflicts.

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Europe

As one of the most developed and most densely populated regions in the world, Europe makes heavy use of its resources, resulting in difficult trade-offs and negative consequences for the environment and ecosystems. Land is used for settlements, agriculture and dense infrastructure, creating problems of soil degradation. Water resources are stressed due to unsustainable agricultural practices. Despite nature protection policies, Europe continues to lose biodiversity at an alarming pace. Some of these trends are exacerbated by climate change, which is expected, for instance, to lead to shifts in water availability.

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Global Issues

Resource scarcities, environmental pollution and climate change are not limited by national borders, but often have a transboundary or even global impact. These issues interact with political stability, governance structures and economic performance, and can trigger or worsen disputes and violent conflicts. Exacerbating some of these trends, climate change is likely to lead to the degradation of freshwater resources, declines in food production, increases in storm and flood disasters and environmentally induced migration. All these developments pose potential for conflict.

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Middle East & North Africa

The geopolitical position of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), its fossil fuel resources, high population growth and the political changes spurred by the Arab Spring all make the region one of the most dynamic in the world. Nevertheless, it is also one of the most arid and environmentally stressed. Dwindling water resources, limited arable and grazing land, high pollution from household and industrial waste, remnants of conflicts and increasing desertification are key environmental challenges.

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North America

Climate change has various impacts on the three North American countries of Canada, Mexico and the US. Canada and the US have well-developed adaptive capacities and foster the strengthening of capacities in other regions as well. With high per capita emissions, these two countries also bear a greater responsibility for a changing climate. Mexico has a sound national strategy for climate change adaptation, yet fewer capacities than Canada and the US. The poorer and rural populations of Mexico are especially vulnerable to climate change, due to an increased sensitivity and a lower adaptive capacity.

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Oceania & Pacific

In Oceania, population growth and economic development trends put a strain on oceanic and island ecosystems. Freshwater scarcity, overexploitation of fisheries, loss of land biodiversity, forests and trees, invasive species, soil degradation, increasing levels of settlement, poor management of solid and hazardous waste and disproportionate use of coastal areas are some of the problems. Climate change exacerbates most of these trends, while also raising questions about the future sovereignty of some island states.

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South America

South America has diverse and unique ecosystems and is very rich in biodiversity. Weak natural resource management, land disputes and extreme weather events bring about significant challenges for the region. While South America accounts for relatively few CO2 emissions, the changing climate will alter its ecosystems and greater climate variability will lead to more hurricanes, landslides, and droughts.

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Sub-Saharan Africa

In many African states, environmental security issues rank high on the political agenda. Throughout the continent, countries suffer from water scarcity, food insecurity and energy poverty. These chronic and worsening resource scarcities have severe livelihood implications and are exacerbated by political conflicts over access to and control over these resources. Climate change may seriously threaten political and economic stability in Africa. It may also put a severe strain on the capacities of states and societies to co-ordinate activities, to communicate and to organize.

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