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.
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.
San Francisco’s Global Climate Action Summit ended on 14 September with non-state actors sending a call to action to governments ahead of the crucial COP24 in December, while highlighting their pivotal role in reducing emissions and reaching climate targets.
Peat areas have played a pivotal role in conflicts globally, and have also been a point of contention during post-conflict recovery. Communities in Southeast Asia as well as in the countries of the Congo are facing challenges as finding political solutions for this problem.
In many parts of South and Southeast Asia, high population density and vulnerability to climate change combine with low levels of household resilience and poor governance to increase security concerns and the potential for political instability.
The EU and its Member States have been practical pioneers of climate diplomacy for many years, but what has been learned up until now? Which initiatives and approaches are worth being replicated?
Climate scientists from several international agencies were ending a three-day conference in Nairobi, releasing a detailed study of the Kenyan drought whose main message is: prepare for more. Humanitarians need to understand climate risks and use climate information to mitigate such disasters.
Fresh water is an indispensable resource for human life and ecosystem health. A considerable amount of fresh water resources accessible for human use are shared between two or more countries. Around the world, there are 286 transboundary river basins, and 148 countries include territory within one or more of these basins. Contrary to expectations, internationally shared water resources have long acted as a source of cooperation rather than conflict between riparian states.
Women are at the forefront of climate change, facing disproportionately high risks to their health, education, food security and livelihoods. The gendered impacts of climate change are particularly strong in the case of climate-induced disasters and are exacerbated in contexts of violent conflict, fragility and extreme poverty. At the same time, women can be important agents of change in adaptation and peacebuilding. Disaster management can provide opportunities to overcome traditional gender roles and strengthen women’s voices in decision-making.
Approaches developed in Mali, Senegal, Kenya and Tanzania offer insights for building resilience in areas facing risks of climate change, disasters and conflict.
Wrapped in a purple boubou (robe), Salou Moussa Maïga, 60, sits with his hands clasped between his knees and explains how climate change has fuelled violent conflict in Ansongo, Mali. As the president of a farming cooperative, he knows the cost of drought all too well. ‘The rain period has decreased considerably from years ago … we don’t have grass anymore,’ he told ISS Today. ‘Everything is naked.’
Ask Agnes Namukasa about sustainably managing fisheries in Kachanga, the lakeshore landing site she calls home in Uganda’s Masaka District, and you will soon learn about toilets. From her perspective, community members won’t address conflict between government enforcers and fishers, competition among neighboring villages, or pollution threatening aquatic ecosystems until they can first organize to address their most pressing daily needs. And in Kachanga, where chronic childhood diarrhea and a host of other illnesses stem from poor sanitation, those essentials include public latrines.
When it comes to accessing and making best use of climate finance, states in situations of fragility are faced with particular challenges that are largely disregarded in the current aid architecture. If we want to support the most vulnerable nations in building resilience to climate-fragility risks, we need to make sure our resources actually reach those most in need, effectively link climate, peacebuilding and development finance, and apply modalities that fit states with low capacities.
The most important and anticipated climate change conference in years is finally underway. In some ways, as Bill McKibben and Andrew Revkin have pointed out, its success is relatively assured thanks to the number of major commitments countries have already made. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to see here.
Acknowledging that climate change is a global threat to security in the 21st century, the Dutch government has convened an international conference on Planetary Security on 2-3 November 2015 in the Hague. The aim of the conference was to facilitate strategic exchange on existing foreign policy and security architecture.