The race is on for Saudi Arabia to find new sources of income before the oil age peters out. Could acting on climate change cause some of the world’s wealthiest countries to collapse into disorder and danger?
Migration, political and financial crises threaten the European Union’s very existence. But the destabilized political landscape after the US elections is an opportunity for the EU to lead by example and show leadership. Pushing forwards on pan-European energy transition and trade partnerships with China will be key to ensuring implementation of the Paris Agreement.
"Land degradation is a root cause of migration and a trigger of conflicts", says Monique Barbut, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. In the interview, she explains the links between environmental change and violent conflict in Africa. Concrete examples such as the "Great Green Wall" raise hope that conflicts over scarce resources can be successfully addressed and that degraded landscapes can be restored through collaborative efforts.
The ECC Factbook is an online tool presenting over 120 conflicts with an environmental dimension. This month, our Factbook team reviewed the links between food price hikes and political fragility in the Middle East and North Africa region, with a particular emphasis on the events leading up to the Arab spring revolutions. The latest additions to the ECC Factbook include a general overview of the origins and consequences of recent global food price crises, a series of specific case studies in selected MENA countries, and a discussion of possible policy solutions.
How to deal with the impact of climate change on peace and stability? What are the key climate-fragility risks to development in Africa and how can integrated policy responses be designed and implemented? Two side events at COP22 discussed entry points for addressing climate-security risks on the ground.
Following last month’s United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) in Quito, Ecuador, it is worth raising attention to the key challenges and opportunities that the urbanisation process imposes on peaceful development. In fragile contexts, such as urban areas which are already highly exposed to multiple risks (including climate change, disasters, chronic poverty, insecurity and population displacement), the converging effects of climate change and growing youth populations can severely affect security risks.
With much of the Middle East in turmoil, authorities devote their resources to fighting ISIS, the refugee crisis and the most pressing economic and social concerns. Peter Schwartzstein, a Cairo-based journalist, reports on the struggle of environmental agencies to be heard in times of conflict. The secondary status of the environment is regrettable, as landscape degradation and pollutant floods in Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, Sudan and other countries is contributing to a broader picture of instability.
Assessing the positive impacts of climate action, an approach which considers the broad spectrum of social, economic and health benefits, has increasingly gained global recognition. This is due, in part, to the insightful work done by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate. On this platform, Christian Friis Bach from UNECE noted on February 2016: “Taking into account such co-benefits can radically change the picture and demonstrate that action can pay off, not only in the long term, but also in the short to medium term.” With the Paris Agreement recently ratified by the European Union (EU), what is the potential of the benefits approach for achieving these new commitments in Europe?
26 May 2016 – At a meeting today in the United Nations Security Council on the situation in the Sahel region of sub-Saharan Africa, senior UN officials stressed that climate change plays a direct role in the region’s security, development and stability by increasing drought and fuelling conflict.
Intensive international cooperation is a key prerequisite for successful and ambitious global climate action. Russia, one of the world’s top 5 greenhouse gas emitters and the second largest producer of crude oil and natural gas, has long been regarded as one of the major veto players in international climate politics. Nevertheless, during the last decade climate awareness among Russian policymakers and other relevant stakeholders has increased dramatically. This is illustrated by the fact that the updated Strategy of National Security of the Russian Federation refers to climate change as a threat to national and public security. The Paris Agreement gave the Russian climate policy a new strong impetus.
The signing ceremony of the Paris Agreement is an important opportunity for Europe to make the successful lessons from Paris into pillars of its diplomatic strategy. In June 2016, European Heads of State and Government will discuss a new “Global Strategy” on security and foreign policy. Delivering the Paris Agreement must be placed directly at its core if Europe wants to stay safe and prosperous.
At its 585th meeting on March 30 2016, the Peace and Security Council of the African Union held an open session on Climate Change: State fragility, peace and security in Africa. The debate reflected the collective acknowledgement that climate change, peace and security in Africa are inextricably linked, stressing the need for all AU Member States to further build national resilience capacities.
The climate conference that took place in Paris last month has repeatedly been billed as a crucial global summit, and even as a decisive moment in human history – and its results have been judged as historic, too. To emphasize that the conference must not fail, Paris has seen the greatest ever gathering of leaders of state and government. And indeed, because anthropogenic climate change involves a huge range of risks – for human health and well-being, water and food security, and international security – it is fitting that the leaders who carry overall responsibility for their nations’ wellbeing engage on this issue.