ECC Platform Library

 

Factsheet FAQ

This page provides a detailed explanation of all the elements of the factsheets. This includes a description of the rationale of specific elements as well as the description of key functionalities.  It is not necessary to read this document in its entirety in order to understand the factsheet because the latter is largely intuitive. However, this FAQ is designed to help users understand and interpret each element of the factsheet and to provide a basic description and justification of these. It also provides links to more detailed and technical descriptions of different aspects.

The Summary Table:

The summary table at the top features basic information about the conflict. Two items need explanation: Type of conflict describes whether the conflict is a main conflict or a sub conflict. A main conflict is a conflict for which other cases exist on a lower geographical or temporal level. If a case is a sub-case of another conflict, a main conflict describing the dynamics on a higher level of abstraction exists. You will often find links to related conflicts in the main texts and also under Related Conflicts in the References and Materials Section of the factsheet. The Intensity listed in the summary table is the summary variable Human Suffering which is described in more detail in the description of the Intensities & Influences Section below.

Embedded Map:

The embedded map on the factsheet is a subset of the world map. The documentation of the worldmap provides more detail on all map-related questions. You can scroll and zoom within the embedded map. However, this map only includes the selected conflict.
The Conflict Marker location is based on where the conflict takes place. This is often an approximation because many conflicts take place over a large territory or cannot be easily pinned down to a specific location (e.g., conflicts over water allocation in a large transboundary basin such as the Nile).

Compound Risk Symbols:

The Compound Risk Symbols below the title indicate the presence of specific compound risks in the respective conflict. Compound risks, as understood here, are sets of mechanisms of environmental and social processes that together lead to situations of fragility.  You can find the name of the compound risk by hovering over the symbol, and you can filter by compound risk both on the map and in the tabular view.

You can find an explanation of these compound risks and examples of emblematic conflict cases here. 
Conceptually, these compound risks stem from the report "A New Climate for Peace", which you can find here.

Conceptual Model:

The conceptual model schematically visualizes how environmental change is connected to a conflict or other situation of fragility in a specific case. It does so by connecting drivers, such as increased water scarcity, to outcomes, such as anti-state grievances, and specifies the main mechanisms and intermediate states that link them together.

Environmental changes such as increasing water scarcity may have direct social (yellow lines) and/or climatic causes (green lines). Such changes may then affect societies in ways that ultimately contribute to conflict. To display this basic process, we display crucial aspects of climatic changes and social causes on the left of the diagram, leading to environmental change (second box from the left). These environmental changes then have consequences for societies (mostly featured in the box "Intermediary Mechanisms") that translate into drivers for conflicts and other situations of fragility (on the right).

To capture the idea that the environmental and societal context shapes how specific mechanisms play out, we also include environmental (blue) and societal (red) context factors at the bottom of the conceptual model. For example, the environmental context factor "water-stressed area" suggests that the link between an environmental change increasing water scarcity and its effect on agricultural productivity will likely be more severe in an already water-stressed context. Similarly, societal context factors such as an "unresponsive government" will make it more likely that adaptation to an environmental shock (such as environmental migration) will lead to a situation of fragility / conflictual outcome.

Each step along the conceptual model is documented in detail in the factsheet itself. Hover over the different drivers / intermediary states / outcomes to find detailed descriptions of them. Hover over the links/curves to find detailed descriptions of the mechanisms and processes that connect them.

For interpreting the model as a whole, three caveats need to be taken into account: The model is  a (i) partial account that features (ii) potential links in a (iii)parsimonious manner.

(i) Partial account: he conceptual model is neither meant to suggest that the environmental change is the only driver of a particular conflict, nor that an environmental change alone is sufficient to induce conflict. Rather, it provides an account of the environmental dimension of the conflict within the broader societal context.

(ii) Potential links: Links are potential in two senses: First, every link might or might not be present for a case. In other words, we are not implying that a specific condition (e.g. increased water scarcity) will deterministically lead to the same outcome. Second, some links – in particular from climate change to extreme weather events – are inherently potential as the definite relationship between climate change and a specific extreme weather event cannot be established. 

(iii) Parsimonious explanation: When choosing which links to display for a specific conflict, there is often a tradeoff between displaying a conflict in all its complexity and keeping the visualization understandable. For that reason, we sometimes choose a more parsimonious over a more complex representation of the case, meaning the absence of a specific link for a given case does not mean that the mechanisms is not present at all.

 

Intensities and Influences:

This section visually aggregates two types of information about the conflict on a 1 to 4 scale:

INTENSITIES
The intensity of a conflict can be assessed based on different criteria. Combining them in a single measure would therefore make the meaning of a specific value unclear. For this reason, we currently distinguish between two types of conflict intensity. The first, Human Suffering, summarises the information regarding the humanitarian impacts of the conflict, in particular fatalities, violence, and mass displacement. The second, International / Geopolitical Intensity, summarises information that makes a conflict salient from an international and geopolitical perspective, such as cross-border migration, involvement of more than one nuclear power, and the occurrence of interstate tensions or even war. These measures should be comparable across conflicts. Both of these measures are certainly not perfect and should be taken as a rough orientation rather than as a claim to perfect measurement. In the spirit of this being an open project, we are interested in receiving suggestions for the amendment and extension of these criteria.

INFLUENCES
As displayed in the conceptual model and described textually in the case studies, environmental and societal influences that can lead to situations of fragility often interact in complex ways. Nonetheless, there are conflicts where the environmental drivers seem relatively more important than societal ones and vice versa. To give an approximate sense of these influences, we also scale them from 1 to 4. Environmental Influences will be higher the stronger we judge the exogenous environmental shock from climate change to be. The measure is a summary of the "Climate Change Causes"-links of the Conceptual ModelSocietal Influences will be higher the more conducive we believe the social situation, such as the presence of societal cleavages and other societal context factors, to be in contributing to and intensifying situations of fragility and conflict. It is important to underline that these two measures are designed to provide a helpful comparative perspective for a specific conflict, but that they are not comparable across conflicts.

A more detailed documentation on the background of these measures and how they are computed can be found here.

Note: In the tabular preview of conflicts that is shown on the worldmap view as well as the list view only one intensity value is displayed. This is due to space constraints. The value displayed is the higher of the two values Human Suffering and International / Geopolitical Intensity. 

 

Detailed Conflict Intensity Information:

This table provides detailed information on different aspects of conflict intensity, such as fatalities, level of diplomatic crisis and displacement. You can find more information by hovering over the ?-symbol that opens a mouse-over with additional information on the variable in question.

Resolution Success:

This table features a set of variables that assess to which degree there has been some success in conflict resolution and, if so, whether this can be attributed to successful conflict resolution strategies or other factors. As with the table providing detailed conflict intensity information, you can find more information on these variables by hovering over the ?-symbol.  

Conflict Resolution Strategies:

The conflict resolution strategies are a typology of resolution strategies that have or could have been employed by local authorities and/or by foreign policy makers in the conflict.
For each conflict, a relevant selection of the complete list of conflict resolution strategies is displayed:

  • Not applicable: Those strategies that would not be solutions to the current conflict are not displayed.
  • Potential strategy: Those strategies that could be solutions to the conflict but have not been employed are displayed with the value 0: "Applicable, but not employed"
  • Employed strategy: Those strategies that have been attempted are, respectively, displayed as attempted weakly (1), being an important part of conflict resolution (2) or even being primary conflict resolution strategies (3).

All strategies are assigned to one of five categories:

  • Institutional solutions to reduce conflict, which covers specific changes to the institutional solutions architecture for the purpose of solving environmental conflicts. 
  • Increasing societal resilience, which is a more general generic conflict resolution strategy than the first and is more concerned with increasing the general capacity of a society to resolve conflicts peacefully.
  • Economic and technological adaptation, which is about economic and technological changes that increase the adaptive capacity of the society to deal with environmental change(s).
  • Foreign policy tools include third-party strategies and interventions can be utilised to reduce the intensity of the conflict.
  • Environmental peacebuilding covers conflict resolution strategies that seek to leverage adverse environmental change(s) for greater cooperation.

A complete list of all resolution strategies and a documentation on the background and selection of strategies can be found here.
 

Fault Lines Defining Conflict Parties:

For every conflict, this is the subset of those societal faultlines and cleavages that are important for understanding how the conflict breaks down into different actor groups. For example, the "National Faultline / International Conflict" cleavage indicates that a conflict is structured by tensions between nation-states. Similarly, a farmer-herder conflict where farmers and herders belong to different ethnicities would be marked as having a cultural and an occupational faultline. The faultlines we distinguish are the following:

  • Cultural, which broadly covers linguistic, ethnic, religious and other faultlines which are related to beliefs, norms or ethnic identity.
  • Occupational, which we code as present when different groups are in conflict because of how their occupations and livelihoods depend differently on an environmental resource or good.
  • Economic, which is a broader category than occupational and that we code as present when the conflict is structured along more general economic categories such as conflicts between richer and poorer populations.
  • Urban / Rural, which we code as present when the interests of urban and rural populations diverge and conflict actors rally around this cleavage.
  • National / international conflict for conflicts that find their expression in interstate tensions or war.
  • Sub-national political for conflicts, which we code as present when a sub-national political unit, such as a state within a federal nation state, is in conflict with the national government or another state.

 

Actors List:

Related to the faultlines, the Actors List is comprised of those actors of particular importance to a specific conflict and/or its resolution. On the right side of each actor bar, you can click to display the full information about an actor. Each actor has the following attributes:

  • Participant to the conflict and/or its resolution: An actor can be a party to a conflict (red dot) and/or a facilitator of conflict resolution (blue dot).
  • Functional group: An actor can be public, i.e. a government or government agency. An actor can also be commercial, i.e. a corporation. The two other categories are civil society, non-governmental organizations and other organized representations of societal interests, as well as non-state violent actor. This last category designates an actor challenging the state and/or current political elites by organized armed violence.
  • Geographical scale: This refers to the primary geographical scale at which the actor operates in the current conflict. INTERNAL-Grassroots means that the actor is primarily working in the field/the conflict locality. INTERNAL - National means that the actor works primarily at the national level, for example as a national political party. INTERNAL - International refers to an actor that acts internationally, but belongs to the conflict. A good example of this is a national government involved in a transboundary dam conflict. EXTERNAL, finally, means an actor that is not directly involved in the conflict itself but attempts to contribute to its resolution from the outside, for example an UN agency or a foreign government supporting negotiations between conflict parties. These categories may sometimes overlap and be subject to contention.

 

Country Data in Comparison:

To complement the qualitative case studies, we provide a selection of quantitative variables. These variables are chosen from the quantitative scientific literatures on environmental conflicts, climate change and conflict and, more generally, on the determinants of conflict and civil war.

There is fierce debate in the quantitative literature on which (environmental) variables are related to conflict (or not) and whether these relationships are causal. For this reason, we simply present these data as useful reference points. We do not claim that any of them has been clearly proven to predict conflict. Rather, we chose this selection of environmental and societal variables to give our users an easy glimpse into some of the most important variables that are frequently evoked in the debates around environmental conflicts and fragility.

A more detailed documentation on each of these variables and why we include them is provided here. In the Country Data in Comparison bar chart we try to contextualize the country data at conflict onset by putting them in relation to other countries and conflict settings. For this purpose, we perform three transformations of the data (a more technical specification is given here):

(1) We orient each variable in a way where a high value is associated with the expectation that conflict is more likely. As discussed, these expectations are not always clear or consensual in the literature and we document our choices in the discussion of variables.
(2) We normalize each variable to vary between -1 and +1 for the minimum and maximum values of all country-year observations of this variable, respectively. We do this in a way that 0 reflects the median, the middle value, of all country-year observations.
(3) Apart from calculating the median of all country-year observations to serve as 0 , we also calculate median value for all conflicts – the conflict median. This is the gray bar behind the colored bar indicating the country value. When the variable value of the country is higher than the conflict median, the country bar is colored red. When it is above 0 but below the conflict median, it is colored orange. When it is below 0, it is colored blue.

As discussed above, users should be cautious to avoid over-interpreting the degree to which these variables predict conflict. However, the normalization and median calculation provide an orientation of how an absolute value compares to the distribution of countries and conflict cases.

Two further aspects about these data are worth noting:

  • Country-Year Data: All data are county-year observations, i.e. one observation per country per year. As such, they cannot be used as exact description of the situation at the concrete conflict locality (for example, there might be an acute water scarcity in a part of the country that in general only suffers from moderate water scarcity). How well country-year observations describe the situation in the conflict locality depends in part on whether a conflict is local or national in nature (but also on general data quality which varies between countries). In the case of a local conflict, the national-level data might still prove useful to get a sense of the overall national context. We discuss this question in detail in the detailed discussion of quantitative variables. We plan to add more geographically-adjusted data in the future.
  • Conflict Onset: The data are time-varying, but we can only display a single variable value per country in the Country Data in Comparison bar chart. We chose the year of conflict onset as the reference point. The Data of Involved Countries line graphs provide a visualization of these data that allows exploring time-trends (see below).
     

Conflict Characterization:

The table Conflict Characterization provides additional variables that describe the general nature of the conflict. The variables listed here are selected to contextualize the conflict within existing frameworks from the scientific literature. The variable Character of the contested good captures whether the contested resource is a public good, a common-pool resource, a private good or a club good. This is based on the common typology of goods used in economics. The variables Ecological Marginalization and Resource Capture are concepts from Thomas Homer-Dixon's influential article "Environmental Scarcities and Violent Conflict" and subsequent work. The list here is neither meant to be exhaustive (we plan to add typologies in the future and are grateful for suggestions) nor is it meant as an endorsement of any particular typology. Rather, it is intended to provide an additional perspective for accessing the factbook that will hopefully be helpful for those familiar with these typologies. Every variable listed in this section is explained by a mouse-over that can be opened by hovering over the respective ?-symbol.

Data of Involved Countries:

This is the same data as for Country Data in Comparison but presented in a different format. Here, the absolute and untransformed values of the variables are displayed over time. The entire data that is available is displayed, so the display is not limited to the conflict period or the conflict onset. This allows users to look at trends and developments over time, both within country level variables (e.g. population growth in Tunisia) as well as in terms of convergence and divergence between countries (e.g. a shift in relative power between two riparians).

 

Topics

Adaptation & Resilience

All countries will need to adapt to some of the environmental, social and economic impacts of climate change that are already unavoidable. Food security, livelihoods, water resource availability and public health are some affected areas. People living in poverty are more vulnerable, having a lower capacity to adapt. Thus, it is essential to promote resilience building. The adaptation and resilience aspects need to be mainstreamed into planning by policy makers and the private sector as well as integrated into development strategies.

Biodiversity & Livelihoods

Nature protection is most sustainable if it essentially contributes to the long-term stability of human needs. Today many regions around the world are confronted with increasing destruction of the natural foundations of life. The consequences of wide-ranging resource destruction are no longer regionally limited, but rather represent a global threat. Those affected are mainly rural populations, who find the sources of their income and the foundations of their way of life swept away. The depletion and destruction of natural resources goes hand in hand with decreasing agricultural yields and increasing poverty, which in turn forces the affected populations to deplete the remaining resources.

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Capacity Building

On the one hand, conflicts are caused by structural factors, such as economic and social inequality or environmental destruction. On the other hand, conflicts are fuelled by a lack of democratic structures, deficient mechanisms of non-violent conflict settlement, inadequate rule of law, the destruction of social and cultural identity and the disregard of human rights. Against this backdrop, development policies have been dedicated to a broad concept of security, which comprises political, economic, ecological and social stability. As a consequence, development cooperation agencies and actors have developed a broad spectrum of approaches for conflict prevention and transformation as well as for sustainable use of natural resources.

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Civil Society

Civil society is the first victim of environmental pollution, under-development and conflicts. Economically disadvantaged and politically marginalized population groups are particularly affected by violent conflicts as well as increasing resource degradation. Simultaneously, civil society is a fundamental pillar for implementing sustainable development. It contributes in many ways to strengthening conflict prevention and plays a significant role in the peaceful and democratic development of states. It must be supported to strengthen civil rights, adherence to human rights in general and democratic participation.

Climate Change

Climate change resulting from the emission of greenhouse gases represents one of the vital challenges for international environmental policy. Flooding, droughts, shifting of climate zones and increasingly frequent and intense extreme weather events will have serious economic and social consequences for entire regions. The climate problem is also directly linked to the question of future energy generation.

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Climate Diplomacy

To address the challenges posed by climate change, a new profile of climate diplomacy is evolving. This utilises a full range of policies, including development cooperation, conflict prevention efforts, and humanitarian assistance, in addition to more traditional measures of climate change adaptation and mitigation. Moving from a risk analysis of climate-related threats to well-timed preventive action requires a greater commitment to integrating climate change concerns into development, foreign, and security policies. Examples include strengthening diplomatic networks, building new alliances with partners, and raising awareness – not only of potentially negative climate change impacts, but also of opportunities to embark on a sustainable transformation of our societies.

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Co-Benefits

Climate action entails an array of economic, social, political and environmental co-benefits. It provides an opportunity for economic growth and new jobs. Many investments can take into account climate considerations without becoming more costly. Further important co-benefits include: improved energy security, less local air and water pollution, health benefits as well as ecosystem and biodiversity protection.

Conflict Transformation

In order to overcome the structural causes of violent conflicts and thus bring about an improvement in the framework conditions for peaceful and fair development, it is essential to have long term and broadly planned peace development and peace advancement. Various governmental and non-governmental, national and international actors and groups are involved in these processes.

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Development

Climate change and development are inextricably linked. Climate change endangers the development agenda and has the potential to reverse development goals. Furthermore, successful mitigation of climate change heavily depends on development choices around the world. Therefore, development strategies need to be climate-compatible to provide long-term success, and there are viable policy options that support this compatibility. Many mitigation and adaptation activities can present development opportunities to developing countries and avoid the lock-in to environmentally damaging technologies.

Early Warning & Risk Analysis

The reasons for the development and escalation of conflicts and the incidence of risks are multifaceted and complex. Simultaneously, the assessment of the specific causes in the form of risk and conflict analyses can contribute to a better understanding of these processes and make it possible to provide warning of negative developments, or ideally help prevent them. In the context of natural resource use, risks and conflicts have gained increasing attention in the past years. The debate on possible future water wars is merely one example.

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Energy

The well-being of individuals, communities and nations depends on the availability of energy resources. The gap between energy supply and demand appears to be growing, making the world vulnerable to serious economic shocks. At the same time, the burning of fossil fuels causing climate change is one of the vital challenges of international environmental policy. So far, only rudimentary approaches exist for shaping climate and energy security in a sustainable way. The components of a strategy that can contribute to reducing vulnerabilities related to climate change and energy policy include a greater role for renewable energies, the improvement of energy efficiency and a stronger decentralisation of energy supply.

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Environment & Migration

The economic, social and environmental consequences of climate change aggravate the breakdown of eco-system-dependent livelihoods and are likely to become dominant drivers of long-term migration. Natural disasters already cause massive shorter-term displacement and the number of temporarily displaced people is likely to further increase with climate change. For vulnerable populations in vulnerable regions, such as the Sahel zone or the Ganges delta, migration often becomes the sole survival strategy. In order to address climate-related displacement and migration successfully, knowledge of effective adaptation and an improved understanding of how environmental change affects human mobility is essential. 

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Finance

Climate finance, from all sources, plays a key role in supporting and enabling adaptation and mitigation action as well as climate and energy innovation. The Paris Agreement ensured that the Green Climate Fund and the Global Environment Facility are at the core of climate finance architecture as entities entrusted with the operation of the Financial Mechanism of the UNFCCC. Increasing climate finance from all relevant public and private sources is crucial. Furthermore, much needs to be done to redirect finance flows to sustainable paths, e.g. reducing fossil fuel subsidies, introducing maritime and air transportation taxes. The conditions for green investment in developing countries should also be improved.

Forests

Forests are disappearing at an alarming rate. Competition for forest resources triggers, exacerbates, or finances numerous crises and conflicts in tropical developing countries. Illegal logging and timber trade foster instability and sometimes violent conflict by strengthening illegal and armed groups, increasing corruption and exacerbating use and claim conflicts among local communities, the state and the business sector. Forests are a vital resource to poor people but they can also become areas of conflict. Sustainable management of forest resources is therefore key to preventing violent conflict over and within forests.

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Gender

Gender plays an important role as a category of conflict for many reasons. The interlinkages between gender, environment and conflicts are complex and much research is still needed. Existing insights suggest that conflicts may worsen gender inequalities that existed before the outbreak of violence. The unequal distribution of land property rights in many parts of the world serves as an example. Moreover, women (and children) are among those most affected by both violent conflict and natural disasters. At the same time, women carry much of the burden of trying to implement rehabilitation measures after crisis events.

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Land & Food

Increasing water scarcity, desertification and crop failures due to extreme weather events are becoming more and more of a threat to global food production. While the world’s population continues to grow rapidly, food production is unable to keep pace. Due to the global food crisis in 2008, the number of hungry people reached the symbolic one billion threshold for the first time – corresponding to about 16 percent of world population. Food insecurity may be a consequence or cause of conflicts. Violent conflicts often lead to the destruction of agricultural infrastructure and means of production, as well as to the displacement of local communities.

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Minerals & Mining

In the past, the discovery and tapping of valuable or strategic resources like valuable minerals, oil and natural gas, particularly in developing and emerging countries, has often led to large scale environmental contamination and negative development. The "resource curse" of some countries shows that the wealth from resource yields is frequently unfairly distributed; instead of serving development it advanced the formation of corrupt elites and in some cases even led to conflicts and civil wars. Measures in various sectors and at all levels are important in order to use the potential of these natural resources in a manner that is sustainable and prevents conflicts.

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Private Sector

The spread of violent conflict not only affects people but also companies located in such regions. Destruction of investments and infrastructure, collapse of markets and trade partnerships, flight and expulsion of employees are phenomena of conflicts and environment-induced crises that directly affect companies in unstable regions. Almost all branches of the economy thus have a clear interest in a stable and peaceful environment for their activities. Conversely, the business sector plays an important role in the interaction of economic growth, social development and a healthy environment, all of which can advance peace and sustainable development. 

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Security

Environmental issues have a significant security dimension. Access to, and overuse of, natural resources often play a key role in civil wars or other forms of internal domestic conflict. This is compounded by climate change and environmental degradation. Climate change is now widely recognised as a non-traditional, risk-multiplying threat that will have increasing security impacts. Key risks with possible implications for human and national security include water scarcity, food crises, natural disasters, and displacement. More preventive diplomacy and advocacy is needed to address the strategic implications of climate and environmental change.

Sustainable Transformation

Sustainable Transformation allows societies to profit from a growing, environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive economy – especially in emerging and developing countries. This requires a higher up-front investment, but the benefits of a sustainable transformation in the medium and long term are significant. For instance, energy cost savings and reducing the impact of price volatility offer major incentives for deploying renewable energies and promoting energy efficiency. Such benefits exist in all key sectors of the economy.

Technology & Innovation

Innovations and technologies are already readily available and affordable but their global diffusion and uptake remains a challenge. Innovation and technology are crucial to achieving ambitious climate change mitigation and adaptation targets. However, research and development often do not receive appropriate public support. Developing countries can leapfrog high-carbon industrialisation phases by adopting, deploying and improving existing innovations and technologies. For this, it is essential to minimise financial, administrative and political barriers.

Water

The availability of freshwater resources in sufficient quantity and quality is essential for the preservation of human health and sound ecosystems. The use of water resources is also vital, however, for economic development: whether for agriculture, industrial production or for electricity generation. The world's freshwater resources are distributed very unevenly in terms of geography and seasons. In addition, water shortage is becoming more prevalent in several regions due to population growth, economic development, urbanisation and increasing environmental pollution. Thus, water resources can hold potential for conflicts between parties who have different interests and needs.

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Regions

Asia

The environment in Asia is already under tremendous pressure as a result of the unsustainable use of land, forests, water and even air in many regions. Climate change will only exacerbate these challenges. Rising sea levels will likely endanger densely populated areas, changes in the monsoon patterns can strongly impact agriculture, melting glaciers will increase long-term water scarcity, and extreme weather events such as heavy rainfall and cyclones can pose further hazards.

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Central America & Caribbean

Natural disasters and water scarcity are key challenges for most of Central America and the Caribbean. These challenges will become even more pronounced as the climate changes. Weak resource and disaster risk management and land disputes pose additional security challenges for large parts of the region. Several countries of Central America and the Caribbean have limited adaptive capacities as they face political instability caused by high social inequality, crime, corruption, and intra-state conflicts.

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Europe

As one of the most developed and most densely populated regions in the world, Europe makes heavy use of its resources, resulting in difficult trade-offs and negative consequences for the environment and ecosystems. Land is used for settlements, agriculture and dense infrastructure, creating problems of soil degradation. Water resources are stressed due to unsustainable agricultural practices. Despite nature protection policies, Europe continues to lose biodiversity at an alarming pace. Some of these trends are exacerbated by climate change, which is expected, for instance, to lead to shifts in water availability.

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Global Issues

Resource scarcities, environmental pollution and climate change are not limited by national borders, but often have a transboundary or even global impact. These issues interact with political stability, governance structures and economic performance, and can trigger or worsen disputes and violent conflicts. Exacerbating some of these trends, climate change is likely to lead to the degradation of freshwater resources, declines in food production, increases in storm and flood disasters and environmentally induced migration. All these developments pose potential for conflict.

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Middle East & North Africa

The geopolitical position of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), its fossil fuel resources, high population growth and the political changes spurred by the Arab Spring all make the region one of the most dynamic in the world. Nevertheless, it is also one of the most arid and environmentally stressed. Dwindling water resources, limited arable and grazing land, high pollution from household and industrial waste, remnants of conflicts and increasing desertification are key environmental challenges.

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North America

Climate change has various impacts on the three North American countries of Canada, Mexico and the US. Canada and the US have well-developed adaptive capacities and foster the strengthening of capacities in other regions as well. With high per capita emissions, these two countries also bear a greater responsibility for a changing climate. Mexico has a sound national strategy for climate change adaptation, yet fewer capacities than Canada and the US. The poorer and rural populations of Mexico are especially vulnerable to climate change, due to an increased sensitivity and a lower adaptive capacity.

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Oceania & Pacific

In Oceania, population growth and economic development trends put a strain on oceanic and island ecosystems. Freshwater scarcity, overexploitation of fisheries, loss of land biodiversity, forests and trees, invasive species, soil degradation, increasing levels of settlement, poor management of solid and hazardous waste and disproportionate use of coastal areas are some of the problems. Climate change exacerbates most of these trends, while also raising questions about the future sovereignty of some island states.

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South America

South America has diverse and unique ecosystems and is very rich in biodiversity. Weak natural resource management, land disputes and extreme weather events bring about significant challenges for the region. While South America accounts for relatively few CO2 emissions, the changing climate will alter its ecosystems and greater climate variability will lead to more hurricanes, landslides, and droughts.

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Sub-Saharan Africa

In many African states, environmental security issues rank high on the political agenda. Throughout the continent, countries suffer from water scarcity, food insecurity and energy poverty. These chronic and worsening resource scarcities have severe livelihood implications and are exacerbated by political conflicts over access to and control over these resources. Climate change may seriously threaten political and economic stability in Africa. It may also put a severe strain on the capacities of states and societies to co-ordinate activities, to communicate and to organize.

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