As political and public narratives on COVID-19 shift towards the need to ‘build back better’, the pandemic continues to take a heavy toll for many. A new report by the Climate Security Expert Network (CSEN) shows how COVID-19 can exacerbate climate-related security risks.
With the European Green Deal, the European Commission under President Ursula von der Leyen has committed to accelerating decarbonisation in Europe as a major priority. The report "The Geopolitics of Decarbonization: Reshaping European Foreign Relations" shows how the EU’s external relations need to evolve to adequately reflect the political, economic and social outcomes of this process.
Decarbonisation won’t come as fast as the pandemic. But if fossil fuel exporters are not prepared for it, they will face an enduring crisis. The EU can help.
Greenhouse gas emissions are down and air quality has gone up, as governments react to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the head of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Inger Andersen, has cautioned against viewing this as a boon for the environment. In this First Person editorial from UN News, Ms. Andersen calls instead for a profound, systemic shift to a more sustainable economy that works for both people and the planet.
With cities continuously more threatened by climate change-induced disasters, urban planning’s reflex response is to protect cities against nature. But what if the solution lies in working with nature instead against it? Architect Kongjiang Yu invites readers to imagine what cities could look like if they took into account ancient wisdom on spatial planning.
In the Inner Mongolian county of Horinger, Northwestern China, afforestation efforts have transformed a barren, dusty landscape into a pine forest. Planting trees has diminished the sandstorms, boosted biodiversity and improved the environment generally. As the climate emergency worsens, the potential for planted trees to draw carbon out of the atmosphere is being re-examined. What can the world learn from the Chinese experience with afforestation?
A new form of organized crime has recently been emerging in the Amazon: illegal mining. Miners fell trees, use high-grade explosives for blasting soils and dredge riverbeds. But the impacts go beyond environmental damage, bringing with it a slew of other social problems. Peace researcher Adriana Abdenur urges policymakers to improve coordination and argues that diplomacy may help prevent further conflicts, corruption and crime.
“Climate Security risks will materialise in very different ways and forms, whether we talk about Lake Chad or about the Arctic, Bangladesh and the Small Island Developing States,” said the EU’s Ambassador to the United Nations in New York, Joao Vale de Almeida, in his opening remarks. “But for the EU, there is no doubt, as underlined in 2016 in our Global Strategy, and reaffirmed by the 28 Ministers of Foreign Affairs, that climate change is a major threat to the security of the EU and to global peace and security more generally,” he said.
The challenges facing the international community are growing while the willingness to cooperate seems to be waning. Foreign policy must help bridge this gap. One way to accomplish this is by pushing forward a major achievement of multilateralism: the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals. At a side event during the 2019 High-Level Political Forum, diplomats and policy experts discussed the role of foreign policy in the global sustainability architecture.
Global progress towards achieving the SDGs is slow, and for many targets, off track. While SDG implementation is primarily a national task and responsibility, it also requires concerted international cooperation. This article presents two arguments why foreign policy could play an important role in their achievement.