Kenya is suffering from a devastating drought. The government has declared it a national disaster, with the Red Cross estimating 2.7 million people are in need of food aid as a result of failed rains in October, and again last month. But a lack of rainfall is not the only culprit behind the worsening water shortage.
Cities are already facing the brunt of a range of interacting risks from criminal violence, terrorism and war to demographic pressures, to climate and environmental change. Coastal megacities are especially at risk given the specific impacts of climate change they face, such as sea-level rise, increased storm frequency and severity, and destruction to infrastructure such as ports, rail and road networks. These risks are amplified as urban populations become ever larger.
The world dismisses them as economic migrants. The law treats them as criminals who show up at a nation’s borders uninvited. Prayers alone protect them on the journey across the merciless Sahara. But peel back the layers of their stories and you find a complex bundle of trouble and want that prompts the men and boys of West Africa to leave home, endure beatings and bribes, board a smuggler’s pickup truck and try to make a living far, far away. They do it because the rains have become so fickle, the days measurably hotter, the droughts more frequent and more fierce, making it impossible to grow enough food on their land.
Recognizing the risks to development posed by climate change and lessons learned on integrating environmental governance and peacebuilding, implementation of Liberia’s National Adaptation Plan (NAP) with cooperation from climate finance institutions offers an opportunity to plan and create an environment for sustainable peace, explains Jonathan Rozen.
"Land degradation is a root cause of migration and a trigger of conflicts", says Monique Barbut, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. In the interview, she explains the links between environmental change and violent conflict in Africa. Concrete examples such as the "Great Green Wall" raise hope that conflicts over scarce resources can be successfully addressed and that degraded landscapes can be restored through collaborative efforts.
How to deal with the impact of climate change on peace and stability? What are the key climate-fragility risks to development in Africa and how can integrated policy responses be designed and implemented? Two side events at COP22 discussed entry points for addressing climate-security risks on the ground.
Sustaining peace in Kenya’s Kajiado County requires looking beyond climate change and recognizing the role of land privatization in pastoralists’ vulnerability. Author Jonathan Rozen illustrates how climate change acts as a threat multiplier, exacerbating challenges such as economic precariousness, water shortage and violent land disputes.
Following last month’s United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) in Quito, Ecuador, it is worth raising attention to the key challenges and opportunities that the urbanisation process imposes on peaceful development. In fragile contexts, such as urban areas which are already highly exposed to multiple risks (including climate change, disasters, chronic poverty, insecurity and population displacement), the converging effects of climate change and growing youth populations can severely affect security risks.
Last month, our author Dr Vigya Sharma visited Colombo to speak at the 5th Asia-Pacific Climate Change Adaptation Forum. In her report, she highlights some takeaways from the conference to which more than 1,000 representatives from across science, policy, national to local governments, multilateral donor agencies and various arms of the United Nations came together.
This week, Heads of State will formally adopt a ‘New Urban Agenda’ in Quito, Ecuador. It will be the outcome document agreed upon at the third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) that aims to set the narrative for development in human settlements for the next ten to 20 years.
Large dams are major nation-building projects. They harness power to generate energy, provide water for large-scale irrigation and can help control flooding. And politicians often describe them as symbols of national power and technical prowess.
Approaches developed in Mali, Senegal, Kenya and Tanzania offer insights for building resilience in areas facing risks of climate change, disasters and conflict.
Earlier this month, armed clashes between competing factions of South Sudan’s government broke out in the capital Juba, a day after the nation’s fifth anniversary of its independence. The conflict dates back to political events and factional fighting that first emerged in 2013.