ECC Platform Library


Civil War in Darfur, Sudan

Type of conflict main
Intensity 4
Northern Africa
Time 2003 ‐ ongoing
Countries Sudan
Resources Agricultural / Pastoral Land, Water
Conflict Summary The war in Darfur, Sudan is frequently cited as a classic example of a 'climate conflict’. Climate variability in the Sahel, which culminated with...
Civil War in Darfur, Sudan
The war in Darfur, Sudan is frequently cited as a classic example of a 'climate conflict’. Climate variability in the Sahel, which culminated with devastating droughts in the 1970s and 1980s, has arguably played an important role in pitting different groups against one another and against the Government of Sudan. However, the impact of climatic changes in Darfur cannot fully be understood without acknowledging the fundamental imbalances in Sudan's political economy, the profoundly destabilizing effect of Arab-African racial tensions and the erosion of customary land management institutions.
Conceptual Model

Climate Change

The steady decline of rainfall and droughts in the 1970s and 1980s led to deteriorating environmental conditions in the Sahel, culminating with the drought and famine of 1984/1985.

Intermediary Mechanisms

Nomadic pastoralists living in the northern Darfur were particularly affected by the deteriorating environmental conditions in the Sahel, forcing them to migrate further south into areas inhabited by settled farmer communities. The increased migration from northern Darfur incited clashes between different local groups, most often divided along an Arab-African and/or farmer-herder dichotomy, over land resources. Conflicts over land were accompanied by the progressive weakening of customary land management institutions and the government’s attempt to nationalize unregistered land.

Fragility and Conflict Risks

Against this backdrop, an increasing number of Darfurians grew discontent with the central government in Khartoum, fostering attempts for regional autonomy. Increasing ethnic polarization was subsequently exploited by the government in order to weaken Darfurian rebels. The outbreak of the war in Darfur in 2003 has led to several hundred thousand fatalities and more than 2.5 million people displaced.

Climate ChangeEnvironmental ChangeIntermediary MechanismsFragility and Conflict RisksSocial and Economic DriversChanging climate leads to decreased water availability.Extreme weather event is consistent with predictions regarding more frequent and/or intense extreme weather events.In-migration leads to demographic change.Demographic changes increase pressures on available land resources.Freshwater becomes scarce as an essential resource. Land scarcity hampers agricultural production.Extreme weather event leads to scarcity of essential natural resources.Reduced availability of/access to natural resources induces migration.State elites strategically use resource scarcity for political advantage/power.Migration leads to conflicts between migrants and residents.Reduced availability of/access to natural resources provokes discontent with the state.Use of resource, livelihood, and health pressures for political advantage/power increases tensions between groups.A slow change in climatic conditions, particularly temperature and precipitation.Gradual Change in Temperature and/or PrecipitationAn increase in the scarcity of clean water and/or an increased variability in water supply.Increased Water ScarcityAn increase in the frequency and/or intensity of extreme weather events, such as floods or droughts.More Frequent / Intense Extreme Weather EventsA specific extreme weather event such as a flood or a storm.Extreme Weather EventVoluntary or involuntary movement of people from one area to another.Migration patternsChange in population density, age structure, or ethnic makeup.Demographic ChangeReduced availability of/ access to land.Increased Land ScarcityReduced availability of essential natural resources, such as land and water.Change in Access / Availability of Natural Resources(In)voluntary long and short-term movements of people within or across state boundaries.Displacements / MigrationUse of resource, livelihood, and health pressures for political advantage/power.PoliticisationNon-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
  • Group Focused Enmity
  • History of Conflict
  • Political Marginalization
  • Proliferation of Weapons
  • Unresponsive Government
  • Weak Institutions
Conflict History

The war in Darfur, Sudan (2003-present) has received considerable media attention as a primary example of mass violence in conjunction with adverse climate change (Ban Ki Moon, 2007). It can roughly be broken down into three conflict dimensions: the first opposing the Government of Sudan to various rebel groups fighting for the regional autonomy of Darfur, the second opposing different local groups, which compete over land use and are often divided along an Arab-African and/or farmer-herder dichotomy and the third defined by factional disputes within the rebel groups (see Communal conflicts in Darfur). Fighting between these groups and the government as well as mass violence against the civilian population has led to several hundred thousand direct and indirect fatalities and more than 2.5 million displaced people (UCDP, 2014; Auswärtiges Amt, 2012). Two multilateral military interventions have been conducted in Darfur without succeeding in ending the violence. The humanitarian situation on the ground remains difficult.

A climate culprit in Darfur?
Originally, the war in Darfur evolved out of rebel groups’ struggle against the economic and political marginalization of Darfur by the central government in Khartoum. Yet, it became rapidly intermingled with local conflicts over resources, whose origins can partly be traced back to the Sahelian droughts of the 1970s and 1980s. Whether these droughts were caused by anthropogenic climate change or instead resulted from natural climate variability is still a matter of scientific debate (see for instance Niang, Ruppel, Abdabro et al., 2014). Claims about a direct link should therefore be considered with caution, even if they come from very respectable sources such as the current Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon (2007). Yet irrespective of this scientific debate about climate change versus climate variability, the Darfur case is illustrative of how conflicts may develop when societies are unable to adapt to the consequences of climatic changes with peaceful means. And these lessons matter because there is strong evidence and scientific agreement that climate change will generally bring about intensifying and more frequent droughts, despite the uncertainty about the causes of any single event such as the 1980s drought in the Sahel.

Drought, migration and resource competition
Prior to 2003, Darfur had already witnessed several armed clashes between different local groups, most often divided along an Arab-African and/or farmer-herder dichotomy and mostly revolving around issues of competing land use. These conflicts were driven to an important part by deteriorating environmental conditions in the Sahel and the need for northern pastoralists to relocate further south, into areas mainly inhabited by settled farmer communities (De Waal, 2007a). Rainfall in Darfur had constantly been declining in the 1960s, 1970s and the first half of the 1980s, culminating with the drought and famine of 1984/85. Nomadic pastoralists living in the northern part of the region were hit particularly hard, whereas populations in the southern part of Darfur were somewhat less severely affected. During the 1980s and the 1990s, a high number of northern pastoralists thus relocated further south, into areas mainly inhabited by settled farmer communities (De Juan, 2015). At that time, the southern part of Darfur was already experiencing mounting pressures on local resources, due to natural population growth and an influx of migrants from neighboring Chad. In combination with increased migration from northern Darfur and the gradual abandonment of traditional fallow systems, these factors led to a vicious cycle of overexploited soils, deforestation and further depleted resources (De Waal, 2007a; Leroy, 2009).
Weakened institutions and 'divide and rule' politics
This adverse development was accompanied by the progressive weakening of customary land management institutions. The Hakura system, traditionally responsible for allocating land and coping with drought, came under stress, both by the reduced availability of land, and by efforts of the central government in Khartoum to nationalize unregistered land in Darfur. The following nationalization process created opportunities for northern pastoralists to circumvent customary law and extend their claims on the land of southern farmers, encouraging farmer-herder violence (Unruh & Abdul-Jalil, 2012).
The situation was such that an increasing number of Darfurians grew discontent with the central government in Khartoum, which did little to avert famine and quell disputes between migrants and residents. To the contrary, its ham-fisted counter-insurgency tactics often revolved around what Sudan expert Alex de Waal (2007b:1039) has described as ‘Khartoum’s penchant for addressing local conflicts by distributing arms to one side to suppress the other’. 

'Arab' - 'African' divide
Matters were further compounded by a racist discourse affirming the superiority of ‘Arab’ groups over ‘African’ groups, which was both encouraged by elites in Khartoum, and a pan-arabic nationalism propagated by Libya’s Muammar al-Qaddhafi. Grievances over structural inequalities between Darfur and the central regions of Sudan had collectively been shared by different Darfurian groups and are a major reason for the formation of the ‘Sudan Liberation Movement/Army’ (SLM/A) and ‘Justice and Equality Movement’ (JEM) and their struggle for regional autonomy. Increasing ethnic polarization created however new divisions within Darfur, which could be exploited by the government in order to weaken the Darfurian rebels (see Conflict between Masalit and Reizegat Abbala). This explains the dual nature of the war in Darfur, as both a war about autonomy and an inter-ethnic conflict.

Resolution Efforts

Since 2003 the Government of Sudan has engaged in several rounds of talks with the Darfurian rebels. Mediated by Chad, Qatar, the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN) these talks have, however, not succeeded in putting an end to the violence. Lacking commitment on both sides to respect ceasefires and agreements, but also factional disputes within the rebel movements are seriously undermining the peace process. The 2006 Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) was not signed by all rebel groups and the 2011 Doha Peace Agreement with the JEM has barely had any effect on the situation on the ground. The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued arrest warrants for the Sudanese president Omar al Bashir, his minister of defense and various rebel leaders, which has further complicated the diplomatic relationships with the Sudanese government (UCDP, 2014).

Peacekeeping operations
Two multilateral military interventions have been conducted in Darfur: The African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) from 2004 to 2008 and the United Nations African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) - a hybrid UN-AU intervention - since 2008. But reluctance of the Sudanese government to accommodate UN-troops on its soil as well as reservations of western countries to provide the mission with necessary military equipment have hampered the effectiveness of peacekeeping operations in Darfur (Brosché, 2008).

Humanitarian action
The humanitarian operation in Darfur is one of the largest in the world. It has drastically reduced the rate of acute malnutrition as well as crude mortality rates. But widespread insecurity in Darfur as well as bureaucratic obstacles and the harassment of aid organizations by government officials make the work of NGOs difficult. Following the issue of an international arrest warrant against president Bashir in 2009, the government of Sudan banned several international NGOs such as Oxfam, Care and Médecins Sans Frontičres and withdrew the authorization of several Sudanese NGOs (Auswärtiges Amt, 2012).

Regional instability
The security situation in Darfur is further compounded by different regional factors. The Libyan crisis of 2011 has facilitated the flow of weapons to Darfur and the implication of Darfurian rebels in the civil war in neighboring South Sudan since 2013 puts additional strains on the conflict resolution process. Yet, the level of violence in Darfur has decreased compared to the years 2003 to 2005 (UCDP, 2014; Auswärtiges Amt, 2012).

Resources and livelihoods
A solution to the crisis in Darfur needs to take into account the interaction between the environmental, humanitarian and political dimensions of the conflict. Violence in Darfur is compounding longstanding processes of environmental degradation, thus worsening environmental conflict drivers (Bromwich, 2008). The Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) explicitly acknowledges the need to put an end to environmental degradation and mitigate local conflicts over water and pastures. The European Union and the United Nations Environmental Project are working on the development of major water catchment projects. The Darfur Land Commission (DLC) is currently documenting customary land use mechanisms in order to facilitate the co-integration of formal and customary land use institutions. And UNEP works with Tufts on enhancing pastoralist livelihoods in the eastern Sahel (Buchanan-Smith, Bromwich, and Nassef, 2013; Krätli, El Dirani, and Young, 2013). Generally, the Government of Sudan has been willing to embrace international initiatives in the domain of environmental protection. However, limited capacity and weak coordination mechanisms between the federal and regional level as well as with civil society actors have undermined implementation (Mohamed and Egemi, 2012).

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

Environmental Influences
Societal Influences

Manifest Crisis
300 000
Violent Conflict Yes
Salience within nation National
Mass Displacement More than 100.000 or more than 10% of the country's population are displaced within the country.
Cross Border Mass Displacement Best estimate that more than 100.000 or more than 10% of country population are displaced across borders.
Destination Countries S. Sudan, Central African Rep., Chad
Agricultural / Pastoral Land, Water
Resolution Success
Reduction in Violence Violence reduced significantly, but did not cede.
Resolve of displacement problems Displacement continues to cause discontent and/or other problems.
Reduction in geographical scope There has been no reduction in geographical scope.
Increased capacity to address grievance in the future There is no increased capacity to address grievances in the future.
Grievance Resolution Grievances have been partially addressed.
Causal Attribution of Decrease in Conflict Intensity There has been no reduction in 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

Participation Conflict Party     Conflict Resolution Facilitator
Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A)
Functional GroupNon-State Violent Actor
Geographical ScaleInternal National
Government of Sudan
Functional GroupPublic
Geographical ScaleInternal National
UN-AU Mission in Darfur (UNAMID)
Functional GroupPublic
Geographical ScaleExternal
Government of Qatar
Functional GroupPublic
Geographical ScaleExternal
Government of Chad
Functional GroupPublic
Geographical ScaleExternal
African Union
Functional GroupPublic
Geographical ScaleExternal
United Nations (UN)
Functional GroupPublic
Geographical ScaleExternal
Justice and Equality Movement (JEM)
Functional GroupNon-State Violent Actor
Geographical ScaleInternal National
Entry Points for Resilience and Peace Building
1 Peacekeeping The African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) and the United Nations African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) have conducted peacekeeping interventions in Darfur.
1 Mediation & arbitration The Government of Sudan has engaged in several rounds of talks, mediated by Chad, Qatar, the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN), with the Darfurian rebels. However, these talks have not been successful in ending the violence.
1 Treaty/agreement The 2006 Darfur Peace Agreement and the 2011 Doha Peace Agreement have been largely unsuccessful in putting an end to the violence due to lack of commitment.
2 Humanitarian & Development aid Humanitarian operations in Darfur have reduced the rate of malnutrition as well as mortality rates. However, widespread insecurity and an uncooperative government have created great obstacles for the continuation of such operations.
1 Environmental restoration & protection Various international initiatives concerning environmental protection are being conducted in Sudan.
Further Details opencollapse
Conflict Characterization
Character of the contested good Common-pool resource: No one can be excluded from use but the good is depleted.
Structure of decision-making power / interdependence Mixed: The abilities of parties to affect the environmental resource is mixed.
Broad conflict characterization Resource Capture is present.
Ecological Marginalization is present.
Data of involved Countries
Resources and Materials opencollapse
Conflict References References with URL


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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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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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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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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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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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 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 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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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.


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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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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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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