To shift humanity onto a sustainable path and secure peace, transformative change is required – globally. The UN’s 17 SDGs serve as critical guardrails. But what is the role of foreign policy in the implementation of these goals and what are the side-effects that diplomacy must be aware of? At the UN High-level Political Forum, experts analysed the geopolitical implications of the SDGs and discussed why foreign policy need to engage with them.
“Climate change is inextricably linked to some of the most pressing security challenges of our time,” said Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, echoing many permanent and temporary members of the United Nations Security Council. This debate, brought forward under the Swedish Presidency of the Council, aimed at bringing forth the nexus between climate change and security, not only in a context-specific manner like previously acknowledged but for the globe as a whole.
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.
Understanding climate risks is crucial to ensuring effective and sustainable conflict prevention. On 11 July, Sweden will hold the first meeting in the UN Security Council since 2011 on climate-related security risks, to better understand how climate change impacts security, and enhance UN responses across the conflict cycle.
One of the biggest challenges to climate action is not only understanding the risks of flooding, extreme heat and other challenges, but how your community might respond to these risks. What are its strengths? How might policymakers augment existing capacities and address weaknesses?
The European Parliament yesterday, 3 July 2018, voted for a report on EU Climate Diplomacy and emphasized the EU’s responsibility to lead on climate action as well as conflict prevention.
High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini hosted on 22 June 2018 an unprecedented high level event - Climate, Peace and Security: The Time for Action - which drove home both the urgency and importance of tackling the risks that climate change poses to security and peace. Ministers from around the world, top United Nations officials, and leading experts testified to the many real and potential security threats deriving from climate change.
"Land degradation is a root cause of migration and a trigger of conflicts", said Monique Barbut, Executive Secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification in a recent interview with the ECC platform. Whether for growing crops, grazing animals or constructing houses – land is a prerequisite for human life. But global pressures on land are increasing and threaten millions of livelihoods - and thus peace and stability.
Climate shocks as drivers of migration might be long present in the environmental narrative, but they are hardly being addressed on a policy level. According to MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri, the lack of a legal definition of ‘climate refugees’ effectively excludes the issue from international agendas – and creates space for generalized scepticism.
Can climate change be the source of conflicts or is it merely one among several catalyzers that worsen the pre-existing condition on the ground in some cases? And how can we avoid climate change mitigation and adaptation policies not to become a new source of tensions between groups in society?
Reducing the impacts of disasters in developing countries is absolutely vital - especially in fragile and conflict-affected contexts. The invention of climate risk insurance has been a major breakthrough in that regard. If they are well-designed and mitigate potential negative side effects, climate risk insurance could play a major role in supporting the poor. To support this, insurance initiatives should monitor both positive and negative impacts.
Achieving the 2030 Agenda is essential to peace and stability worldwide, and is becoming an important point of reference for foreign policy. As European Sustainable Development Week launches across Europe, European embassies in Berlin are engaging with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and raising awareness about the entire sustainable development agenda among foreign policy communities.
In May 2018, the Brazilian Institute for Climate and Society and the German Embassy in Brazil hosted an event on international climate and security in Rio de Janeiro. The meeting, joined by experts from the public sector, civil society and international think tanks, reflects Latin America’s increased interest in the international dimension of climate fragility risks.
Environmental peacebuilding strives to reduce conflict risks associated with natural resources and to enable societies to profit fully from their natural resource wealth. In order to be successful, it must follow a context-sensitive approach. Nina Engwicht shows that, in Sierra Leone, the environmental risk factors for conflict have only been addressed at the surface.