Climate change was more central than ever at this year’s Munich Security Conference (MSC), the leading international forum for senior military, security and foreign policy leaders. The release of the inaugural “World Climate and Security Report 2020” (WCSR 2020) by the Expert Group of the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS) should help policymakers take effective action.
On 29 November in Rabat, adelphi partnered with the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) to hold a regional dialogue on climate change and fragility risks in North Africa and the Sahel.
Until recently, impressive economic growth, stable leadership and its attractiveness as a foreign investment hub put Ethiopia in a positive spotlight. However, the country still ranks low in human development and is highly dependent on rainfed agriculture, making it particularly vulnerable to climate change impacts. Combined with existing tensions and inequalities, climate vulnerability can exacerbate security risks. To mitigate these linkages, Ethiopia’s leadership should support implementation of conflict-sensitive climate change adaptation policies and include climate security in its conflict mitigation strategy.
Years ago, Mohamed’s family had enough to eat, despite being poor. His daughter owned a vegetable stall at a bustling market in northeastern Nigeria. The family had options: during the dry season, when Lake Chad was shallow, Mohamed could farm; and during the wet season, he could fish or graze his cattle. But then things began to change.
The new study Shoring up Stability demonstrates, for the first time, how climate change interacts with conflict and exacerbates the humanitarian crisis in the Lake Chad region. To launch the report and discuss its findings with local policy-makers, experts and practitioners, the German Embassy in Niger, adelphi and CNESS co-organised a launch event on 24 October in Niamey. Insights from Niger point to the importance of investing in governance rather than technical fixes.
“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.
In recent years, conflict between herders and farmers for access to increasingly scarce natural resources in Africa’s Sudano-Sahel has escalated. While the problems fueling these tensions are both hyper-local and transnational in nature, one important piece of the puzzle has been overlooked. The real “elephant in the room” is who owns the livestock.
Satellite analysis shows ‘vanishing’ lake has grown since 1990s, but climate instability is driving communities into the arms of Boko Haram and Islamic State. Climate change is aggravating conflict around Lake Chad, but not in the way experts once thought, according to new research.
In Mali and in the Sahel, changing rainfall patterns have been said to stress much of the current security crisis affecting the region, which can also be traced back to inadequate governance, corruption and local grievances. Prof. Tor A. Benjaminsen from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences argues that tackling these political sources of contention must be a priority, as climate change could aggravate the region’s security threats in the future.
The Planetary Security Conference 2019, which concluded on 20 February, saw a number of workshops being held on the Sahel region and specifically Mali, one of the Conference’s three spotlight regions. These workshops examined the region’s climate-water-security risks as well as the #doable actions and solutions to address these issues.
In “Africa’s smallest war,” both Kenya and Uganda lay claim to Migingo Island, a tiny island in the waters of Lake Victoria. While the claims are over the island, the conflict is about something else entirely: Lates niloticus, also known as Nile perch, a tasty white fish that swims in the waters surrounding the island. The fish forms the backbone of the Lake Victoria economy but is increasingly hard to come by along the lakeshore. Catches are in decline, incomes are dropping, and the Ugandan government is taking increasingly harsh, militarized steps to help revive the fishery. Who is to blame?
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.
Both those who argue for and those who refute climate-conflict links draw on Darfur to support their case. New analysis of political bias behind the environmental narratives and their critiques adds much-needed nuance to our understanding of when drought is – and is not – relevant to the conflict.
The Lake Chad Basin is afflicted with a multidimensional crisis, which contributing factors range from deeply-entrenched regional hostilities to environmental degradation. The vulnerability of livelihood systems to changing climate patterns adds to the security pressures by exposing local populations to intimidation and recruitment by radical groups. Anja Stache, Programme Coordinator at GIZ, explains how the German development agency helps strengthen resilience by introducing climate-smart seeds.