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Climate Change and Violent Conflict: Sparse Evidence from South Asia and South East Asia

Publisher: SIPRI
September, 2018

The impacts of climate change are increasingly viewed as global security risks, which will have far-reaching implications for both human and renewable natural systems. Most climate–conflict research has focused on East Africa and sub-Saharan Africa. This SIPRI Insights explores and summarizes the findings from a systematic literature review of climate–conflict research on South Asia and South East Asia. Although these regions have been greatly affected by both climate change and conflict, there have only been a small number of rigorous academic studies that focus on the climate–conflict relationship.

While this constrains the ability to draw general conclusions, there is context-specific evidence that climate change can have an effect on the causes and dynamics of violent conflict in the region when:
(a) it leads to a deterioration in people’s livelihoods; (b) it influences the tactical considerations of armed groups; (c) elites use it to exploit social vulnerabilities and resources; and (d) it displaces people and increases levels of migration. In acknowledging that these mechanisms are often interlinked and more noticeable in some climatic, conflict and socio-economic contexts than in others, the need for more research in both regions is clear.


I. Introduction

II. Contextual background: South Asia and South East Asia

III. Pathways explaining the climate–conflict link 

IV. Implications for future research and policymaking


Pernilla Nordqvist was a Research Assistant in the SIPRI Climate Change and Risk Programme.
Dr Florian Krampe is the Director of SIPRI’s Climate Change and Risk Programme.