The planet’s limited resources are under pressure. Demand for food, water, and energy is increasing, particularly where the population or the economy is growing rapidly. Widespread unemployment, rapid urbanization, and environmental degradation challenge efforts to reduce poverty and increase economic development in many poor countries. In fragile regions, persistent inequality, political marginalization, and unresponsive governments exacerbate these stresses, increasing the potential for instability and conflict. Adding the impacts of a changing climate on water, food, and land will multiply these pressures and strain countries’ ability to meet their citizens’ needs.
Fragile situations arise when states cannot provide basic services, protect their citizens, or develop mutually constructive relations with society. Even states that are otherwise stable may endure periods of fragility or harbour pockets of fragility. If not managed well, these periods or pockets can spur a downward spiral of fragility and conflict, where states are locked into cycles of repeated violence, weak governance, and instability. Managing these challenges begins with a clear understanding of the compound climate-fragility risks that emerge when climate change interacts with other social, economic, and environmental pressures, such as rapid urbanization, inequality, economic shocks, and environmental degradation.