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.
Cities are on the sharp end of a range of 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, including accelerated global sea-level rise, increased storm frequency and severity, and destruction to critical infrastructure such as port facilities, rail and road linkages, and energy installations, all of which are amplified as urban populations become ever larger.
Climate change and violent extremism will be two of the major threats to the stability of states and societies in the next decades. In many African countries climate change has significantly increased instability by over-stretching the already limited capacity of governments to respond. UNDP Team Leader Aliou M. Dia shares his insights from West Africa and argues that one has to ensure that violence and conflict prevention measures are fully integrated in climate change adaptation plans and programmes.
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.
Diplomacy has an important role to play in creating an economy compatible with the target of staying below 2°C warming, agreed in Paris in 2015. At the climate conference in Marrakech (COP22) from 7 to 18 November 2016, dubbed the “implementation conference”, many new initiatives strengthened the impression that low-carbon transformation had gone mainstream.
This edited volume, entitled Conflict-sensitive climate change adaptation in Africa, focuses on conflict-sensitivity in climate change adaptation strategies and practices in Africa and brings together the voices of academics, practitioners and policymakers from across the globe and Africa. Key questions that frame the contributions are: how do climate change and/or climate adaptation projects cause or contribute to conflicts, and how can adaptation measures be conflict-sensitive?
"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.
The T20 Africa Conference will bring together opinion leaders from think tanks and universities in Africa and the G20 countries to further promote the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The key objective of the conference is to discuss options about what future cooperation between the G20 and Africa could and should look like.
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.
A greater understanding of the relationship between climate change, migration, cities and conflict is required in the global research community. Clemence Finaz, a Research Associate at International Alert, illustrates the complexities of a densely-populated city’s vulnerability to compound risks, including climate-related disaster and a high level of insecurity using the case example of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.