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Food Price Shocks in Morocco

Type of conflict main
Intensity 3
Region
Northern Africa
Time 1984 ‐ ongoing
Countries Morocco
Resources Agricultural / Pastoral Land, Water
Conflict Summary In 2007-2008 and 2011-2012, Morocco experienced protests, which a number of the media reported as “bread riots”. However, even though Morocco is highly...
Food Price Shocks in Morocco
In 2007-2008 and 2011-2012, Morocco experienced protests, which a number of the media reported as “bread riots”. However, even though Morocco is highly dependent on imports for its food consumption, the drivers of the protests go beyond the issue of rising food prices and the protesters’ grievances are also rooted in the perceived incapacity of the government to fulfill its basic functions vis-à-vis the population.
Conceptual Model

Climate Change

In 2007-2008 and 2011-2012, extreme weather events in important grain export countries such as the U.S. and Russia contributed to significant increases in global food prices. Environmental change worsened the agricultural condition in Morocco, which further exacerbated the country’s dependence on food imports.

Intermediary Mechanisms

As a result of global food price developments, prices of basic staples increased significantly. The government reacted by increasing subsidies, but the price developments still threatened food security in the country. Furthermore, the expensive subsidies burdened the country’s budget and raised questions about the sustainability of the government’s policies.

Fragility and Conflict Risks

Price increases of basic staple foods and the perceived inability of the government to manage the situation sparked nationwide protests that some media have labelled as “bread riots”.

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.Demographic changes increase pressures on available water resources.Demographic changes increase pressures on available land resources.Economic developments lead to changes in land use.Water scarcity undermines water-dependent livelihoods.Changes in land use reduce available/usable land.Changes in land use reduce available/usable freshwater.Land scarcity undermines the livelihoods of agricultural producers.Extreme weather event leads to scarcity of essential natural resources.Livelihood insecurity reveals lacking capacity of the state to manage crises.Reduced availability of/access to natural resources leads to volatile food prices.The perceived inadequacy of state capacity leads to growing discontent with the state.Food price volatility provokes growing discontent with the state.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 EventChange in population density, age structure, or ethnic makeup.Demographic ChangeReduced availability of/ access to land.Increased Land ScarcityA 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 ChangeA threat or destruction of livelihoods dependent on the availability of environmental resources / goods.Livelihood InsecurityReduced availability of essential natural resources, such as land and water.Change in Access / Availability of Natural ResourcesReduced capacity of the state to fulfil basic functions deemed necessary by the population and/or reduced public support for state authorities.Reduced State Capacity and/or LegitimacyStrong fluctuations in the prices of foodstuffs, such as cereals or livestock.Volatile Food PricesChallenge to the state's legitimacy, ranging from peaceful protest to violent attempts at overthrowing the government.Anti-State Grievances
Context Factors
  • Food Import Dependency
  • Food Insecurity
  • High Food Expenditure
Conflict History

Morocco faces a serious risk of food insecurity (World Bank, 2011) and has been strongly affected by recent food price shocks. The following case study examines these dynamics and explores how partially environmentally-induced food price spikes interacts with and produces situations of fragility.

Dependency on imports and vulnerability to global food price spikes
Although Morocco used to be a major supplier of grain for Europe (Horizons et Débats, 2008), the country has become highly dependent on food imports for local consumption, which currently represent a third of all national imports (UNECA, 2012). Today, the country imports all basic commodity products, such as milk, sugar, cererals and meat (Horizons et Débats, 2008).

This change is the result of the agricultural policies, which the government implemented in the 1980s (Zotian, 2012). Similarly to the reforms passed in Egypt since the 1970s (see: Egypt food price shocks), these measures were encouraged by the International Monetary Fund, which suggested Morocco to focus on its comparative advantages in  agricultural production, such as fruits and vegetables, and to import cheap staples (Ibid.). Until today, Moroccan farmers have therefore been focusing on the production of fruits and vegetables for exports and have been importing staples for local consumption (Ibid.).

Nevertheless, even though exports of fruits and vegetables from Morocco have been increasing and despite booming phosphate exports, it has not been enough to balance the large proportion of imports into the country (Zotian, 2012; UN, YEAR). Whilst in 1985-1987, food imports were 1.2 times higher that agricultural exports, the ratio rose to 1.34 in 1990-1991 and to 1.7 in 1995 (FAO, 2015). The deficit of the country’s agricultural trade balance has kept increasing since the 1980s (CIHEAM, 2006) (see graph). This prevented the country from generating foreign exchange to finance imports (see graph) (Zotian, 2012). Therefore, Morocco’s dependency on imports as well as the country’s agricultural trade deficit have been exacerbating the vulnerability of Morocco to global food price spikes.
The deficit in the agricultural trade balance has also been contributing to the decline in productivity in the sector. The lack of foreign exchange has made it difficult for Moroccan farmers to import fertilizers and machines for local production (Horizons et Débats, 2008).

Environmental drivers
In 2007-2008 and 2011-2012, adverse weather events in major grain exports contributed to the global food price spikes (see: global food price shocks). Moreover, environmental changes also contribute to the decline in the agricultural productivity in the country, making Morocco even more dependent on food imports.

The decreasing freshwater availability in the arid regions has serious consequences for irrigation and thus negatively impact food production (Houdret, 2008). Nevertheless, Houdret reports that water scarcity is largely the result of the over-exploitation of land (Ibid.). Human-induced practices therefore exacerbate the decline in agricultural production.

Impacts of global food price shocks on local prices in 2007-2008 and 2011-2012
During the global food crisis of 2007-2008, the entire Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region faced a significant food deficit problem, as prices increased, on average, between 21% to 115% (Drine, 2010). Food prices also went up in Morocco, where the price of basic staples such as bread and cooking oil increased significantly (Zaki, 2009). For instance, cooking oil prices increased by 65% (Ibid.; Horizons et Débats, 2008). Given that in 2007, the share of the average household expenditure for food was over 60% (Drine, 2010), rising food prices had serious consequences for food security in the country.

Government interventions to limit food prices
These increases happened in spite of attempts by the government to limit price rises through subsidies (Zaki, 2009). The government has been relying on subsidies since 1941 to shield the population from high food prices (Ibid.). In 2007-2008, to cope with rising global food prices, the government increased the budget dedicated to subsidies fivefold  (Ibid.). Similarly, in 2011, when the second wave of global food price spikes threatened to make local prices skyrocket, the Moroccan government responded by increasing food subsidies and by imposing price controls during the first half of 2011 (World Bank, 2011). Indeed, it doubled these subsidies -- adding 1,7  billion USD to the planned budget of 2011 -- and started to administer roughly 44% of the national wheat productions with its price control system (Ibid.). In 2011, these subsequent increases in subsidies to bread, fuel, and electricity grew and ultimately reached 20% of Morocco’s national budget (Thakore, 2014).

In a nutshell, because of the agricultural policies conducted in Morocco since the 1980s, export crop cultivation was favoured at the expense of staples for local consumption, which increased the dependence of Morocco on foreign imports. For decades, the government has been shielding the population with subsidies, which have become unsustainable for the country’s economy. Although such policies are effective in protecting the population from sudden price shocks in the short-term, they are not sustainable in the long-term and could actually lead to situations of fragility if those subsidies were to be removed. This is especially the case as, in the second part, we will discuss how food price shocks at the domestic level may lead to situations of fragility.

Resolution Efforts

Food prices and situations of fragility – a simplistic link?
Because recurrent protests happened in the Kingdom of Morocco during the global food price spikes in 2007-2008 and 2011-2012, many newspapers have identified these situations of fragility as being so-called bread riots, i.e. that the population protested against high food prices (Drine, 2010; Libcom, 2007; The Economist, 2012). However, this causal link is too simplistic as it fails to understand the root causes of the protests. In this part, it will be argued that fragility (the inability of the state to fulfill basic functions expected by citizens) is a critical driver which led to situations of fragility in Morocco in the past.

Cuts in public spending and situations of fragility
The cuts in public spending since the 1980s and the large budget allocated to subsidies at the expense of social spending – notably education and health care – have deepened inequalities amongst the Moroccan population (UN, YEAR). Already in 1981-1984, the population had protested against measures advanced by the International Monetary Fund which aimed at further reducing public spending, leading to violent clashes with the authorities and to hundreds of fatalities (Thakore, 2014). In 2007-2008, inequalities, unemployment, and perceived social injustice were at the core of the protests which sparked in the country (Horizons et Débats, 2008). Today, less than half of the youth population is employed (Breisinger, 2012). In general, even though the government took some measures against unemployment, the current measures are highly insufficient to remedy the situation (Zaki, 2009).

The government has been neglecting public investment to increase agricultural productivity since the 1980s. Those policies deepened poverty in rural areas, where a significant part of the population lives and where 40% of the working population works in agriculture (Zaki, 2009). In line with these policies, the government also cut spending in subsidies and reduced the size of the public sector (Zotian, 2012). This contributed to a worsening in income inequality amongst the population (World Bank, 2011). As for distributional inequalities, even though the government highly subsidises foodstuff for the population, a UN report notes that the compensation system in Morocco does not differentiate between income levels and thus tends to benefit primarily rich Moroccans rather than the poor (UNECA, 2012).

Subsidies to buy social peace
If the protests which sparked in Morocco in 2007-2008 and 2011-2012 did not lead to any major change in the political context – as it happened in Tunisia and Egypt (see: Tunisia food price shocks and Egypt food price shocks), it is because the government used subsidies to appease the population.

In 2008, as the government was planning on abolishing an existing 30% commodity price subsidy, the authorities renounced to their plans in the face of the growing public pressure (Political Economy, YEAR). Similarly, during the first half of 2011, governments responded to accruing discontent over economic and social problems by imposing food subsidies and price controls (World Bank, 2011). As Thakore puts it, the government has thus been “buying peace” by continuing subsidizing food stuffs to limit the discontent of the population (Thakore, 2014).

A fragile status quo
Given the growing trade deficit of the country, the question seems to be whether Morocco will be able to continue sustaining this subsidy policy to preserve the status quo and to limit the discontent of the population. New price increases in global food crisis coupled with the growing demands from the rising population are likely to further increase the vulnerability of Morocco to global food price spikes. Furthermore, given the high proportion of unemployment amongst youth, Harrigan and El Said argue that further increases in youth unemployment rate is more likely to lead to social unrest (Harrigan and El Said, 2008). This follows the theory of Smith according to which the rate of youth amongst the population as being factor which might increase the likelihood of unrest (Smith, 2014) (see: global food price shocks).

Policy Recommendations
The recent food price shocks notably revealed the vulnerability of Morocco to global food price volatility. It is therefore crucial for the country to take some measures to limit its dependency on imports.

Current public Initiatives
Various initiatives and plans to enhance rural sustainable and agricultural developments have been launched, notably the Moroccan General Council for Agricultural Development (Conseil Général du Développement Agricole) explicitly to face food crises, water scarcity and climate challenges jointly with international actors (CEHADE 2008).

However, some expert estimate that Morocco disposes of a low capacity to handle the pressing challenges as there is a rather poor availability of and access to relevant information as well as a weak monitoring of food stocks. On the policy level, there is a low policy responsiveness with little or no regional coordination to alleviate food price challenges (Hwalla, 2014).

Agricultural Policy

Morocco has introduced quotas according to the regional poverty distribution for agricultural subsidies in 2011. Notably certain cereal grains for agriculture are being prioritized in the subsidies.

Another pillar of the Moroccan agricultural development strategy is enhancing investments via strategic partnerships with the national and international private sector. Such is done notably in the fields of hydro-agricultural improvements as well as debt-refunding of small scale farmers in order to increase investment capacities and climate risks insurances for cereal and legume production.

The so-called Green Plan for Morocco (Le Plan  Maroc  Vert - PMV) has been introduced by the Moroccan Agricultural Development Agency  in 2008, aiming at reinforcing food security, increase agricultural incomes in particular of small scale farmers. In the long run, the programme is designed to diminish import dependence and to limit the budget imbalances by protections measures (UNECA, 2012).

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

Influences
Environmental Influences
Societal Influences

Manifest Crisis
Fatalities
200
Violent Conflict Yes
Salience within nation National
Mass Displacement None
Cross Border Mass Displacement No
Resources
Agricultural / Pastoral Land, Water
Resolution Success
Reduction in Violence Violence has ceded completely.
Reduction in geographical scope The geographical scope of the conflict has decreased.
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 Decrease in conflict intensity at least partially the result of conflict resolution strategies.
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
Moroccan Government
Functional GroupCivil Society
Geographical ScaleInternal National
Moroccan Population
Functional GroupCivil Society
Geographical ScaleInternal National
Entry Points for Resilience and Peace Building
1 Improving state capacity & legitimacy The Moroccan General Council of Agricultural Development (CGDA) was established in 1993 and is tasked with facing food crises, water scarcity and climate challenges jointly with international actors. This initiative needs to be backed by efforts to increase access to relevant information and capcaities to effectively monitor food stocks.
2 Reducing dependence on specific supplies Morocco has proved to be particularly vulnerable to global food price volatility making it crucial for the country to take some measures to limit its dependency on imports. In an effort to address this issue, the Moroccan Agricultural Development Agency introduced the Green Plan for Morocco (Le Plan Maroc Vert - PMV) in 2008. In the long run, the programme aims to diminish import dependence and to limit the budget imbalances caused by protections measures.
1 Containing (effects of) price volatility The Moroccan government has significantly subsidized food stuffs to limit the discontent of the population. However, this strategy is unsustainable in the long run since it burden the country’s budget. Furthermore, in 2011 the government introduced quotas for wheat and flour mill subsidies to target the most vulnerable households.
2 Coping with uncertainty The Moroccan agricultural development strategy aims to enhance investments via strategic partnerships with the national and international private sector. Such is done notably in the fields of hydro-agricultural improvements, as well as debt-refunding of small scale farmers in order to increase investment capacities and climate risks insurances for cereal and legume production.
Further Details opencollapse
Conflict Characterization
Structure of decision-making power / interdependence Asymmetric: The power to affect the environmental resource is unequal.
Broad conflict characterization Resource capture is not present.
Ecological marginalization is not present.
Data of involved Countries
Resources and Materials opencollapse
Conflict References References with URL
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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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