Natural hazards such as floods, droughts and storms are a threat to human security.
Floods are the most frequent of all natural hazards. They cause the greatest economic loss and claim the most lives. Droughts are disasters that occur suddenly because of a prolonged absence of rainfall. If an affected region does not have sufficient food reserves and no relief efforts are forthcoming, a drought can result in catastrophic famines. Storms take many different forms according to region. They may occur as tornadoes, winter storms or tropical cyclones. With wind speeds of up to 400 km/h, storms can develop incredibly destructive force and leave devastation in their wake.
Preventing crises and violent conflicts is integral to reducing poverty and fostering economic development. The exploitation of natural resources however, as well as the implications of environmental degradation and of climate change in particular have been increasingly discussed in the context of international security and political stability.
Environmental problems know no political boundaries or social divisions. Solving these problems therefore requires collective efforts in the area of environmental protection. Away from the polarizations of economic and political relations, environmental cooperation can contribute to building trust, to initiating dialogue and to fostering the creation of a regional identity based on the shared use of natural resources. Peacebuilding through environmental cooperation can create a positive political framework for cooperation and helps to reduce the likelihood of open conflict between countries and social groups.
Southern Africa faces significant risks due to climate change. The region is already highly exposed to the effects of periodic warming of the Pacific or El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the cold episode of ENSO, also known as La Niña. These cycles respectively cause severe droughts and floods in the region. They are a major driver of climate variability, which is partly responsible for food insecurity.
The Pacific is not just the world's largest ocean, it is host to numerous islands with a rich diversity of culture and languages, reefs and atolls, mountains and forests, flora and fauna. These 22 unique island countries and territories are home to more than 7 million people, and their uniqueness makes them one of the most vulnerable regions in the world facing the impacts of climate change. From the highest of the volcanic islands to the lowest lying coral atolls, the entire region is under threat.