As the Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction soon gets underway, the world is witnessing the highest levels of famine risk in decades. While war and conflict stand as a major root cause of the crisis in the Middle East and Africa, climate change is a key “enhancer” of the humanitarian crisis unfolding before our eyes.
The NATO Parliamentary Assemblies’ Science and Technology Committee drafted a new report on Food and Water Security in the Middle East and North Africa. The report underlines that pressures on natural resources and connected impacts on food production are factors that contribute to the (in-) security of the MENA region. The document summarizes causes as well as possible technical and governance approaches to improve food and water security in the region. The initiative shows that the role of environmental resources is increasingly taken seriously in the sphere of security policy. The Science and Technology Committee will discuss the draft and recommendations to NATO countries at the Spring Session in Tbilisi from 27-29 May.
The epicenter of violence in the unstable country of Mali has historically been in the north, a contested region from where Touareg separatist and jihadist armed groups launched an insurgency against the state in 2012. But over the last two years, there has been a marked shift in communal and anti-state violence to the central region, and climate change may have played a role.
In the Middle East, the consequences of climate change are already a reality of life. The region is one of the most water-stressed areas in the world, the average temperature is rising faster than elsewhere, and a massive reduction in rainfall is also expected for the coming years. Adding to the conflicts and quarrels – ranging from the Israeli–Palestinian conflict to Syria and Iraq as well as to rivalries between Iran and the Gulf states – access to and use of natural resources act as yet another crisis amplifier in the region: water is as important here as land ownership and as precious as access to oil.
This volume brings together insights on the interactions between environmental change and human security in the Middle East and Africa. These regions face particular challenges in relation to environmental degradation, the decline of natural resources and consequent risks to current and future human security.
While all Americans know water is a precious resource, most of us take it for granted – until it’s not there when we need it. Three authors from the Wilson Center argue that water scarcity is undermining economic growth, limiting food production, and becoming an increasing threat to peace and security.
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.
The ECC Factbook is an online tool presenting over 120 conflicts with an environmental dimension. This month, our Factbook team reviewed the links between food price hikes and political fragility in the Middle East and North Africa region, with a particular emphasis on the events leading up to the Arab spring revolutions. The latest additions to the ECC Factbook include a general overview of the origins and consequences of recent global food price crises, a series of specific case studies in selected MENA countries, and a discussion of possible policy solutions.
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.
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.
With much of the Middle East in turmoil, authorities devote their resources to fighting ISIS, the refugee crisis and the most pressing economic and social concerns. Peter Schwartzstein, a Cairo-based journalist, reports on the struggle of environmental agencies to be heard in times of conflict. The secondary status of the environment is regrettable, as landscape degradation and pollutant floods in Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, Sudan and other countries is contributing to a broader picture of instability.
While natural resource development can generate economic success, it can also increase the likelihood of conflict, particularly in Africa. Ongoing violence in Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta is a good example of the so-called “resource curse” in action. In response, African governments continue to grapple with how best to use their resource endowments to foster both economic opportunity and peace. At a time of much soul-searching for the United Nations, there is a unique opportunity to put responsible and effective resource development at the heart of African peacebuilding. But how might local communities take greater ownership of these processes?
This briefing paper argues that in order to achieve the targets set out in the Malabo Declaration, which was adopted in 2014 with the aim to improve nutrition and food security across Africa, and to increase agricultural productivity by 2025 while building resilience to the effects of climate change, African governments must support programmes that will contribute to strengthening smallholder farmers’ resilience and improving their livelihoods.