International political boundaries are arbitrary creations. Today’s borders are better described as imaginary lines on maps, rather than hard barriers between states. Often using mountains, rivers, or other geographical landmarks, modern borders are entrenched in historic tradition rather than logic and fact. As a result, today’s international borders are poorly equipped to handle modern challenges, in particular climate change, which has already begun to threaten the most important state resource, fresh water.
Ten years after committing to rationalise and phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, G20 countries still subsidise coal, oil and gas to the tune of around USD 150 billion annually. The process to try to move the G20 forward on this issue has been via peer review of fossil fuel subsidies, but these reviews need to be followed by action. Subsidy reforms could free up resources that could be channeled back into government programmes, which would be necessary to mitigate the impacts of rising energy prices on vulnerable populations and to help smooth reforms, and could also be spent on accelerating a clean energy transition.
Access to water can be a critical resource for cooperation, but also a source of tension. Identifying risks before their onset is crucial for the efficiency and economic feasibility of intervention strategies, but how can these risks be measured? To address this conundrum, adelphi together with several partners convened a side-event at World Water Week, which connected experts developing analytical tools to policy makers in the water sector.
A problem is looming. Most water infrastructure isn’t designed to meet the demands of the increasingly volatile world that climate change is producing. Our modern landscape requires a reconceptualization of infrastructure’s demands and needs that often defies convention. And nowhere is a flexible and responsive approach more crucial than in water infrastructure, where we are experiencing unprecedented changes in flows and increasing pressures on consumption, according to Wellspring: Source Water Resilience and Climate Adaptation, a new report from the Global Resilience Partnership, the Alliance for Global Water Adaptation and The Nature Conservancy. The report explores some ways practitioners can take a new approach to source water protection that would enhance resilience and help sustain communities and ecosystems in a shifting climate.
adelphi has relaunched its exhibition Environment, Conflict and Cooperation (ECC) Exhibition to illustrate how unprecedented environmental changes interact with social, political, and economic risks to exacerbate conflict. We invite you to explore our online exhibition and to learn more about urgent issues of our time: climate, energy, migration, extractives, food and water.
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.
Limited access to energy is a significant barrier to development and holds back efforts to improve living conditions in developing and emerging economies. Around the world, 1.1 billion people still do not have access to electricity, and 2.8 billion still rely on animal and crop waste, wood, charcoal and other solid fuels to cook their food and heat their homes.
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.
What exactly triggers food riots? At which point does climate change come in? And what can we learn from analyzing the lack and impotence of government action in conflict areas? In our Editor’s Pick, we share 10 case studies from the interactive ECC Factbook that address the connections between food, the environment and conflict. They show how agriculture and rural livelihoods can affect stability in a country, which parties are involved in food conflicts and what possible solutions are on the table.
In July 2018, a partially completed dam in Laos’ Attapeu province collapsed, washing away people and villages in its path. Hundreds of people were missing and more than six thousand lost their homes. And after last summer’s hurricanes, U.S. citizens in Houston and Puerto Rico escaped death but were forced to evacuate when dams were flooded. Dam failure can be catastrophic for people, property, and power – and the risks are rising.
China’s vision of a global energy system overemphasises the benefits of connectivity. Planners and investors also have to consider the potential impacts on biodiversity and local community livelihoods from different power generation methods and find ways to prevent them.
A new report analyses how the transition to a low-carbon economy – and the minerals and metals required to make that shift – could affect fragility, conflict, and violence dynamics in mineral-rich states.
Access to and competition over natural resources has been one of the most common triggers for conflict. Throughout the centuries, countries and communities have fought over productive agricultural land, trade routes, spices, textiles, opium, and oil, to name just a few. But the battle over one natural resource—fish—has long been overlooked. As trends in the global fish industry increasingly mirror the conflict-ridden oil sector, fish may become the newest addition to the list of resources driving geopolitical competition. There are five parallels between oil and fish that call for increasing the sustainability of the fishing industry, or we might find ourselves facing what U.S. Coast Guard Captain Jay Caputo has called “a global fish war.”
Population pressure, a lack of economic opportunities, environmental degradation, and new forms of travel are contributing to human displacement and unsafe migration on an unprecedented scale. And as millions more people see climate change erode their livelihoods, the problem will get worse in the absence of visionary global leadership.