ECC Platform Library


Farmer-Herder Violence in the Tana River Delta, Kenya

Type of conflict main
Intensity 3
Eastern Africa
Time 2012 ‐ 2013
Countries Kenya
Resources Agricultural / Pastoral Land
Conflict Summary More frequent droughts have exacerbated resource conflicts between Pokomo farmers and Orma herders in the Tana River Delta, Kenya. Pressures from outside...
Farmer-Herder Violence in the Tana River Delta, Kenya
More frequent droughts have exacerbated resource conflicts between Pokomo farmers and Orma herders in the Tana River Delta, Kenya. Pressures from outside investors and rising tensions in the run-up to the 2013 Kenyan elections have further fuelled this dispute. The government’s apparent unwillingness to intervene in the conflict has caused additional grievances on both sides and prevented an effective conflict resolution.
Conceptual Model

Climate Change

In recent years, the Tana River Delta, home to the agriculturalist Pokomo and the pastoralist Orma communities, has experienced erratic and unpredictable rains, as well as frequent droughts.

Intermediary Mechanisms

Land-use conflicts between the Pokomo and Orma communities have sporadically occurred since the 17th century. However, both the privatization of land and the acquisition of land by corporations have led to the displacement of communities and more competition between farmers and pastoralists. Likewise, changing weather conditions in the Tana River region have forced Orma pastoralists to travel to the river bank, encroaching on Pokomo crops, and sparking conflicts between the two communities. Additionally, in light of the fierce competition between Orma and Pokomo parliamentary candidates in the run-up to the 2013 general elections, some local elites supported attacks against the supporters of their political rivals.

Fragility and Conflict Risks

Increasing environmental hardship combined with neglect of local police forces led to the culmination of tensions in the summer of 2012, when reciprocal attacks claimed more than 150 lives.

Climate ChangeEnvironmental ChangeIntermediary MechanismsFragility and Conflict RisksSocial and Economic DriversChanging climate reduces available natural resources.More frequent/intense extreme weather events reduce available natural resources.Economic developments lead to changes in land use.Legal / Political interference leads to changes in land use.Changes in land use reduce available/usable land.Land scarcity hampers agricultural production.Reduced availability of/access to natural resources reduces available resources and ecosystem services.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.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 PrecipitationGrowing scarcity of essential natural resources.Natural Resource ScarcityAn increase in the frequency and/or intensity of extreme weather events, such as floods or droughts.More Frequent / Intense Extreme Weather EventsA 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 ChangeLaws and/or interventions by political actors restrict the access to natural resources.Legal / Political InterferenceReduced 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 Groups
Context Factors
  • Elite Exploitation
  • Group Focused Enmity
  • History of Conflict
  • Unresponsive Government
  • Weak Institutions
Conflict History

Conflict between the sedentary Pokomo and the pastoralist Orma communities has sporadically occurred since the 17th century. However, increasing environmental hardship combined with neglect of local police forces led to the culmination of tensions in the summer of 2012, when reciprocal attacks claimed more than 150 lives. These clashes followed a series of smaller incidents, where disputes over crop damages and access to water had led to violence between farmers and herders. As the local administration failed to react appropriately and mutual fears built up between Orma and Pokomo communities in the run-up to the 2013 Kenyan elections, the situation escalated, leading to bigger tit-for-tat attacks from both groups. The government reacted by deploying a large number of paramilitary troops in September 2012. However, it took more than four months to contain the violence (Kirchner, 2013; HRW, 2012, 2013).

Changing weather conditions and land use conflicts
The Tana River Delta is one of Africa’s most important wetlands. It is home to over 180,000 people largely consisting of Pokomo agriculturalists and Orma and Wardey pastoralists. The Pokomo use the swamp-like river banks to cultivate tropical cash-crops such as rice and mangos, while the Orma traditionally inhabit the hinterlands and only migrate to the Tana River when lack of water and grazing grounds force them to do so. These migratory movements have sometimes led to the destruction of Pokomo crops by Orma cattle and conflicts between the two communities have ensued. In recent years, such conflicts have become more frequent as erratic and unpredictable rains in the Tana River region combined with frequent droughts (at least one a year) to force Orma pastoralists to travel to the river bank more often (Andres, 2013; Temper, 2010; Asaka, 2012).

Competing claims to water and land
Land-use conflict between Orma and Pokomo are further complicated by complex and often overlapping property rights, with concurrent systems of private, public, and common land and different rights to access, usufruct, leasehold and freehold. This makes it inherently difficult to manage disputes between farmers and herders: While the Pokomo lay claim to the land along the riverbanks to practice agriculture, the Orma want a passage to the river. In absence of clear arrangements, violence can erupt when herds are driven onto cultivated land. Moreover, some Orma have started practicing agriculture in the Tana River Delta as a way to diversify their livelihoods and now compete for land with Pokomo farmers (Kirchner, 2013; Temper, 2010).
In 2000, the Kenyan Land Adjudication Commission started to privatize land in an attempt to mitigate conflicts by having clearly defined property rights. However, this process itself became a source of tensions as it displaced villages, altered migratory movements and led to more competition over land between farmers and pastoralists (Temper, 2010; Kirchner, 2013). Additionally, national and international corporations have invested heavily in the Tana Delta for large scale farming of food and biofuel crops (see Land grabbing and protests in the Tana River Delta). This has further reduced available land and has raised the stakes of local land disputes (Njoroge, 2012).

Mutual distrust and the run-up to the 2013 elections
Given Kenya's record of communal violence in times of national elections and the fierce competition between Orma and Pokomo parliamentary candidates in the run-up to the 2013 general elections, many local communities were afraid that local elites would support attacks against the supporters of their political rivals. There is indeed some evidence that Orma and Pokomo fighters were trained by retired army personnel and it is likely that several local politicians and businessmen were implicated in the organisation of the 2012 violence (HRW, 2012, 2013; The Economist, 2012; Daily Nation, 2013a). Fears of large scale ethnic clashes were further substantiated by the fact that the region had experienced an important influx of small arms across the Kenyan-Somalian border over the last years (Asaka, 2012).
Furthermore, the adoption of a new Kenyan constitution in 2010, which grants more resources and privileges to the local administration, raised the stakes of the elections and many people feared that elected officials would shift land and development policies in favour of their community (Kirchner, 2013).

Inadequate response by the administration and police
Most importantly, the local administration and police did not react appropriately when tensions between Pokomo and Orma started to escalate. Perpetrators were rarely arrested and almost immediately released, while the police ignored warnings of local residents about an upcoming inter-ethnic conflict (HRW, 2012). Later, in September 2012, the Kenyan government deployed the General Service Unit (GSU), a paramilitary wing in the national police forces. Yet, the GSU became rapidly involved in human rights abuses while trying to disarm local communities (Gogineni, 2012). Overall, the reactions of the administration and the police inspired little confidence among the local population and many local residents felt compelled to arm and protect themselves (HRW, 2013; Kirchner, 2013).

These factors did not only contribute to a climate of distrust between Orma and Pokomo, but also between residents and local authorities, thus providing favourable conditions for the escalation of inter-group violence in 2012.

Resolution Efforts

In response to the 2012/2013 clashes between Pokomo and Orma, different attempts have been made to rebuild trust and peaceful relations between the two communities. Yet, major challenges lie ahead, including the creation of an effective police, the improvement of state-citizen relations as well as the reduction of livelihood insecurities and the resolution of local land-use conflicts.

Rebuilding trust between communities
As soon as inter-communal violence escalated in the summer of 2012, peace meetings and dialogue between the two warring communities were intensified. Initially these meetings failed to calm the situation down, with the peace committees lacking the necessary authority and support in the groups. Delegations of community representatives were even attacked on their way to meetings. In the long term, however, peace meeting are playing an increasingly important part in preventing other escalations (Kirchner, 2013).
Other grassroots initiatives include the creation of a community radio station with the help of Health Communication Resources UK (HCR UK). The station aims to rebut rumours and negative stereotypes by providing unbiased information and hence to reduce the space for misinformation and ethnic polarisation. Besides, the station promotes better farming and irrigation practices, education and health as well as tackling difficult social issues (HCR, 2014, 2015).

Improving security and state-citizen relations
Authorities’ failure to respond appropriately to the 2012/2013 violence has been criticised by residents, NGOs and media outlets (e.g. Gogineni, 2012; HRW, 2013), which have called for an effective and unbiased police to advance security and disarmament in the Tana River region (Asaka, 2012; Kirchner, 2013). Recommendations to the Kenyan Government include improving communication between different police services - whose lack of coordination has become apparent during the 2012/2013 clashes - reducing corruption and abuses within the police, as well as improving the working conditions and terms of service for police personnel (KNCHR, 2014).
The Government has also been advised to conduct a rigorous and transparent investigation into the causes of the clashes and the possible implication of high profile officials to regain the trust of local communities (KNCHR, 2014). In September 2012, then President Mwai Kibaki appointed a Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the ethnic violence in Tana River, Tana North and Tana Delta Districts. The commission issued a report in May 2013, highlighting the role of resource conflicts. As of now, the findings of the report have however not been made public (Mayabi, 2012; Daily Nation, 2013b; Africa News Hub, 2015).

As useful as these measures are to prevent local conflicts from turning violent, they do however not address the underlying causes of communal conflicts in the Tana River Delta. Here, additional emphasis needs to be put on improving rural livelihoods and promote consensual, yet flexible ways to use local resources.

Addressing land disputes and livelihood insecurity
When asked about possible solutions to their quarrel, both Orma and Pokomo communities mentioned the clarification of land rights as the single most important issue (Kirchner, 2013). Yet, resolving this question is far from easy. Owing to their different ways to make use of local resources, the Pokomo are in favour of individual title deeds, while the Orma would like to hold the land communally. Different land tenure systems (private, communal, state) and multiple ownership claims further complicate land adjudication and make the land question a sensitive topic, which bears the risk to trigger another series of violence (Kirchner, 2013). Furthermore, one might question whether property rights can clearly be defined for fluctuating resources such as fertile land in flood plains. Here, access rights which are open to negotiation, albeit within certain limits, might be preferable to fixed rules (Temper, 2010).
Independently of the stance taken on this point, some pressure can nevertheless be taken from local land disputes by improving the livelihoods and resilience of rural communities. Additional water points in the hinterland could reduce the need for pastoralists to travel to the riverbank (Kirchner, 2013). Increased crop-livestock integration, such as the selling of crop residues from the farmers to the pastoralists, would profit both sides, while rural communities would strongly benefit from improved access to markets and agricultural extension services (Temper, 2010; Asaka, 2012).

The communities of the Tana River Delta share a long history of conflict, of which the 2012/2013 clashes have been the latest culmination. Addressing the underlying issues and achieving reconciliation will certainly be challenging. Yet, incremental improvements can be realised by improving the coordination of farming and pastoral activities, promoting the dialogue between representatives of both sides and making local authorities more responsive to the needs of the Delta’s communities.


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

Environmental Influences
Societal Influences

Manifest Crisis
Violent Conflict Yes
Salience within nation Regional
Cross Border Mass Displacement No
Agricultural / Pastoral Land
Resolution Success
Reduction in Violence Violence has ceded completely.
Increased capacity to address grievance in the future There is no increased capacity to address grievances in the future.
Grievance Resolution Grievances have been mostly ignored.
Causal Attribution of Decrease in Conflict Intensity The decline in intensity can be explained purely by the suppression or killing of grievance holders.
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
Pokomo community
Functional GroupCivil Society
Geographical ScaleInternal Grassroots
Orma community
Functional GroupCivil Society
Geographical ScaleInternal Grassroots
Government of Kenya
Functional GroupPublic
Geographical ScaleInternal National
Entry Points for Resilience and Peace Building
0 Strengthening the security sector A more effective police can be created by improving communication between different police services, reducing corruption, and improving the working conditions for police personnel.
2 Dialogue Peace meetings and dialogue between the two warring communities were intensified in 2012. Such meeting are playing an increasingly important part in preventing other escalations.
2 Mediation & arbitration A Judicial Commission of Inquiry was appointed in 2012 to look into the ethnic violence in Tana River, Tana North and Tana Delta Districts. The commission issued a report highlighting the role of resource conflicts.
2 Promoting peaceful relations A community radio station, supported by Health Communication Resources UK (HCR UK), is providing unbiased information to reduce misinformation and ethnic polarisation, among other things.
0 Improving infrastructure & services Some pressure can be taken from local land disputes by creating additional water points in the hinterland, increasing crop-livestock integration, and improving access to livestock markets.
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 Symmetric: All parties can affect the environmental resource equally.
Broad conflict characterization Resource capture is not present.
Ecological marginalization is not present.
Data of involved Countries
Resources and Materials opencollapse


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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