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.
Resource consumption has grown exponentially over the past: between 1970 and 2010, the quantity of extracted materials has tripled. Not only the overall amount of resources extracted and consumed has risen rapidly, but also the diversity of resources has grown. While half a century ago, only a few materials such as wood, brick, iron, copper, and plastics were in high demand worldwide, today products are more complex and require a wide range of materials.
Leaving No One Behind is the mantra of the 2019 UN-Water campaign. Foreign policy agendas of countries should apply the principle and integrate the voices of the most marginalised into the decision-making process, argues Dhanasree Jayaram.
Water is a matter of survival and plays a critical role in social, economic and environmental activities as well. With a rise in global demand for water, water crises have consistently featured among the World Economic Forum’s top global impact risks. Water insecurity, i.e., the lack of water availability for basic human needs and socio-economic development, undermines billions of livelihoods and poses significant risks for peace and prosperity by thwarting progress and fuelling displacement and conflict.
Current trends depict an irreversible momentum for a global energy transformation. Renewables have moved to the centre of the global energy landscape. Technological advances and falling costs have made renewables grow faster than any other energy source. Many renewable technologies are now cost-competitive with fossil fuels in the power sector, even before taking into account their contributions to the battles against air pollution and climate change. These trends are creating an irreversible momentum for a global energy transformation leading to shifts that will affect almost all countries and will have wide-ranging geopolitical consequences.
This report published by IRENA's Global Commission on the Geopolitics of Energy Transformation with support from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Energy & Industry, and the German Federal Foreign Office looks into these developments from a foreign policy perspective.
After close to 40 years of armed conflict, Afghanistan may be poised to begin a period of economic recovery. Electrifying remote areas and establishing pervasive political control is critical to its success. India is currently planning and funding several major hydropower projects along the Kabul River and its tributaries. Micro-hydropower is bringing electricity to remote areas such as the Banda Miralamji Village in eastern Nangarhar Province. However, in some areas far from the capital, the central government in Kabul and opposition groups are struggling for control and influence. While electrification of a village often eases poverty, health concerns, and improves communication, it does not always benefit the government in Kabul.
In many ongoing armed conflicts, water has been used as a weapon of war, but it can also be a strong instrument of peace.
Responding to climate change has become more urgent than ever. Cooperation within communities is a precondition for urban resilience, as recurring heatwaves and hurricanes cannot be put down to chance any more. Lou del Bello argues that part of the response to disaster risks lies in digital communications, which will help build preparedness from the bottom up.
Although water is an essential input for agriculture and industrial production, it is also scarce in many regions. When it crosses international borders via shared rivers, lakes and aquifers, it can become a source of conflict and contention. Yet while water can be a source of instability, especially in the face of climate change, it can also be a source or catalyst for cooperation and even peace.
Finding domestic alternatives for rare earths has become a matter of national security, according to a recently released Pentagon report. The United States’ defense, economy, and infrastructure depend on the electronics that rely on these mineral elements. Trade tensions between the United States and China over rare earths illustrate an important dynamic surrounding little-seen building blocks of our daily life.
Water is critical. It grows our food, generates our energy, and ensures our prosperity. To address the challenges that stand in the way of building healthy, prosperous, and peaceful communities, we must first tackle the challenge of water insecurity.