As the debate over climate-related security risks grows, many Pacific Island States are calling for more action by the international community to better address the links between climate change and global security. In an interview with adelphi, the President of Nauru, Baron Waqa, highlights some of these calls as well as the challenges in getting the climate-security issue on the UN’s agenda.
In some areas of the world, including Central America, rising sea levels and declining agricultural productivity due to climate change are expected to trigger major migratory flows, especially within countries. The role of policy-makers is it to promote local solutions while engaging in regional cooperation for a preventative approach.
Small Island States will be facing dramatically higher adaptation costs to build resilience against the kind of impacts the IPCC projects in its most recent Special Report. Thoriq Imbrahim, former Environment and Energy Minister of the Maldives, urges the international community to attend to the political demands of countries particularly exposed to the impacts of climate change and also confront loss and damage with renewed urgency.
A new USAID report focuses on the intersection of climate exposure and state fragility worldwide. It finds that the factors that make a country vulberable to large-scale conflict are similar to those that make it vulnerable to climate change. The report thus offers a way for global audiences with an interest in climate and security to identify places of high concern.
Fourteen Latin American and Caribbean countries made history at the UN General Assembly on September 27 by signing the Escazú Agreement, a regional accord on public participation and access to information and justice in environmental affairs. It is the first region-wide agreement of its kind and has been touted a big step forward in recognising the rights of environmental defenders. Signatories now need to ratify the Agreement internally before it can enter into force.
Australia’s new prime minister will not walk away from the Paris climate agreement, although his new policies now make it unlikely the country will meet its emissions reduction goal. Ongoing trade talks with the EU could also hinge on how climate policy continues to develop.
The surge in the frequency and intensity of climate change impacts has raised the alarm about how this could hamper coastal activities. Several critical ports in the Indo-Pacific region are hubs of international trade and commerce and at the same time vulnerable to typhoons, taller waves and erosion. India’s climate diplomacy at the regional level could activate climate-resilient pathways for port development and management.
Starting in 2014, the number of migrants from Central America’s Northern Triangle surged. Experts blame the region’s widespread criminal violence for spurring migration. But the Northern Triangle countries also share similar ecology, staple crops, and vulnerability to climate events. While environmental and natural resource factors are just part of the complex picture, understanding how they intersect with other migration drivers is key to creating and implementing effective policy responses.
On November 17, adelphi hosted a high-level panel discussion on “How to prevent climate security risks?” at the German Pavilion at COP23. The panel discussion was an opportunity to take stock of what has been achieved and to deepen the discussion on how to prevent climate-related risks and incorporate them into policy planning.
The exhibition “Environment, Conflict and Cooperation”, realized by adelphi and supported by the German Federal Foreign Office, was recently displayed in El Salvador in cooperation with the Central American Commission for Environment and Development (CCAD) as part of the Climate Diplomacy initiative. The exhibition illustrates the dramatic and growing impact of global environmental changes. It was discussed among experts and visitors, continuing to support a broader dialogue on sustainability in Latin America.
The island state of Fiji is hosting the presidency of the next United Nations climate conference. Inia Seruiratu, Minister of Agriculture, explains why the exit of the United States from the Paris Agreement also has positive aspects, why he is focusing on climate change adaptation, and why Fiji will not be joining the climate risk insurance.
Climate finance is supposed to fund projects in developing countries that support the path towards limiting global warming to 1,5°C – a goal that was confirmed in the Paris Agreement in December 2015. For this it needs a paradigm shift to low-emission and climate-resilient development as the statute of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) states. At the same time, projects funded under climate finance should not hamper development or lead to the violation of human rights. Climate finance can therefore not only focus on the environmental aspects of the investments funded, but also needs to be incorporated into the wider context of development, as i.a. the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are reflecting.
Internationally, Australia resides in the region worst affected by climate change, a so called ‘disaster alley’. Robert Sturrock from the Centre of Policy Development argues that policy action to address climate vulnerabilities in Australia and the Indo-Pacific is not sufficient, and that Australia should offer leadership to encourage regional cooperation and prepare for climate crises.
The Prime Minister of Fiji Frank Bainimarama, as incoming President of the UN Climate Change Conference in autumn in Bonn (COP23, 6-17 November), addressed delegates on the final day of the May UN Climate Change Conference in the former German capital. In his address, he set out his vision for Fiji's Presidency of COP23. During his speech, the new Presidency COP23 website was launched, and a powerful video showing the impacts of climate change on Fiji was screened (see below). These are his remarks as prepared for delivery.
On 19 January 2017, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan hosted a roundtable seminar with international experts and country representatives to follow up on G7 efforts to address climate-fragility risks.