Nobody needs to be convinced that climate change affects our very existence and security. However, experts are interested to know how climate change affects security at a global level and what the EU can do in that regard. This was the main aim of the European Security and Defence College (ESDC) Climate Change and Security Course co-organised by the French Institute for Higher National Defence Studies (IHEDN) and adelphi, as part of the Climate Diplomacy initiative supported by the German Federal Foreign Office, which took place in Brussels from 21 to 23 October 2019.
This is a joint event by the Centre for International Security at the Hertie School and the United Nations Association of Germany, focusing on the security implications of climate change and the role of the UN Security Council in this context.
International political boundaries are arbitrary creations. Today’s borders are better described as imaginary lines on maps, rather than hard barriers between states. Often using mountains, rivers, or other geographical landmarks, modern borders are entrenched in historic tradition rather than logic and fact. As a result, today’s international borders are poorly equipped to handle modern challenges, in particular climate change, which has already begun to threaten the most important state resource, fresh water.
“It is time to do more than just talk about sustainability. It is time to act sustainably,” said Heiko Maas during his speech at the General Debate of the 74th United Nations General Assembly. Germany’s Minister for Foreign Affairs highlighted the need for multilateral cooperation to achieve worldwide sustainability, as well as Germany's focus on climate-security, women, and disarmament and arms control as part of its agenda in the UN Security Council.
The guidelines for conflict-sensitive adaptation to climate change were developed by adelphi on behalf of the German environment Agency (UBA) and outline how to design and implement an adaptation project in a fragile or conflict-affected context. Addressed at planners and project managers, the guide provides tools and methods to ensure that an adaptation project does not exacerbate tensions and, ideally, contributes to peace and stability.
Policymakers and emergency managers tend to build a conceptual wall between natural hazards and terrorism. The causes of—and remedies for—these two kinds of disasters are seen as separate and distinct. But, in the era of climate change, the wall between the two is crumbling. As climate and weather patterns shift, the resulting environmental crisis is being leveraged as a tool for terror and political violence.
As the links between the climate crisis and risks to global peace and prosperity become ever more evident, foreign policy actors are increasingly under pressure to step up their efforts to address climate-related risks. To increase the momentum for addressing climate-related drivers of conflict, the German Federal Foreign Office in partnership with adelphi and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) hosted the Berlin Climate and Security Conference (BCSC) at the German Federal Foreign Office on 4 June 2019.
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) will host the fourth Stockholm Security Conference (SSC 19) on 3 October 2019, under the theme ‘Conflict and technology: Now and in the future.’ Through plenary and breakout sessions, the conference will look at how the nature of conflict is changing today and how technology impacts conflict.
The Humanitarian Energy Conference (HEC) is a new global event that convenes the broad community of actors and initiatives worldwide working to improve and expand energy access for displaced and crisis-affected people.
“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.
As India grapples with the worsening impacts of climate change, the need to strengthen its adaptation efforts has become more significant than ever. Climate diplomacy and mainstreaming climate adaptation into the most vulnerable sectors could provide some solutions to overcoming barriers, such as the lack of sustainable funding.
No country is immune to natural hazards, but for fragile states, the effects are even more severe. Mostly, conflict prevention and humanitarian aid are seen as more pressing priorities to protect livelihoods there. This pushes efforts of climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction to the bottom of the priority list and results in compounded pressures.