Climate and security were the focus of a high-level foreign policy conference held in Berlin in early June. At the core of the conference was the “Berlin Call for Action”, which sets out three concrete action areas for tackling the threats posed by climate change to peace and security, namely risk-informed planning, enhanced capacity for action and improved operational response. But what if the world doesn’t listen?
The adoption of the 2030 Agenda in 2015 marked a high point for international multilateral cooperation. With its 17 goals and 169 targets, the implementation process for the SDGs may appear an essentially technocratic exercise. Yet in view of the social transformation that it seeks to bring about across key dimensions of human civilisation, SDG implementation remains a profoundly political process. Because of the intense political implications, in-depth analysis, political foresight and strategic guidance are needed. As the consequences of SDG implementation cross and transcend borders and impact international relations, foreign policy has a critical role to play.
The SDGs set out a powerful vision for a better world, but action since 2015 is not delivering that promise. Foreign policy practitioners are in a unique position to help advocate for and assist in the implementation of the SDGs. Given that the SDGs and foreign policy want to achieve the same things – stability, peace and prosperity on a healthy planet – delivering them should be seen as a litmus test for the effectiveness of foreign policy in the twenty-first century.
The side event will address the relevance of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to foreign policy and international seucirty with the goal of better understanding how to leverage the SDGs to achieve core foreign policy objectives. Access the agenda here.
On Tuesday, 4 June, seven foreign ministers, 19 ambassadors, several ministers and more than 200 experts met in Berlin to act on climate security risks at the Berlin Climate and Security Conference. "Achieving the international climate targets is the new imperative of our foreign policy”, the German Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas, said in his opening speech. This is the aim of the Berlin Call for Action which was presented at the conference.
There is increasing evidence that climate change is undermining livelihoods, food and water security in rural and urban areas around the world, thereby acting as a “threat multiplier” in fragile and conflict-prone situations. In light of this, the Berlin Climate and Security Conference, which took place at the German Federal Foreign Office on 4 June 2019, aimed at increasing the momentum for decisive action to address climate-related drivers of conflict.
Governments must invest new effort and money to prevent climate change from driving new conflicts, according to a diplomatic statement drafted by the German foreign office.
For researchers looking into global security dynamics, it is becoming increasingly difficult to overlook climate change as a threat multiplier in conflict situations. While climate change may not directly cause conflict, it may be inextricably woven into pre-existing conflicts of power, ethnicity, and economic interest. Understading the role of climate-related impacts on security is therefore crucial for global peace.
The foreign policy community faces a choice. It can continue to allow unacceptable levels of violence and conflict to undermine individual countries and the global order. Or it can build a new consensus that violence is a preventable epidemic. This would take seriously a growing body of evidence showing what is most likely to work to steer the world back toward global peace, resilient societies, and more sustainable prosperity.
Every change, no matter how small, can cause larger changes elsewhere. The radical socio-ecological transformation envisioned under the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) requires anticipating and managing trade-offs, and the diplomatic cadre will have a significant role to play in maximising synergies, mitigating adverse knock-on consequences and developing strategies for mutual benefit.
The implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development can prevent conflict and safeguard global stability – and, as a new study from adelphi shows, foreign policy has a critical role to play.
Around 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livelihood, and about 2.6 billion people rely directly on agriculture. Deforestation, land degradation, and unsustainable management of ecosystems threaten those livelihoods and may contribute to resource-related conflicts and social unrest.