Related commentary: Climate change and risk
The recent report by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) gives conflicting messages on the question of whether climate change leads to violent conflict.
The International Maritime Security Conference showed that maritime security is vital for other forms of security.
Despite the substantial number of studies, researchers have not yet come up with a general interpretation of the climate change–violence nexus.
Although climate change is defined using environmental terms, it should be understood in a comprehensive framework taking into account conflict, food security and health. The official definition, according to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is 'a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods'. Yet this masks the wider set of issues within the climate debate – the ways in which climate change endangers livelihoods and threatens peace through climate-induced resource conflicts.
Momentum is building for a new, common approach to energy within the European Union (EU) that balances the need for competitive pricing against security of supply and the need to reduce carbon emissions.
China has seen dramatic domestic growth in agricultural production, but now it must navigate the pressures of a growing food demand and the negative effects of climate change.
Throughout a turbulent 2016, SIPRI's vision of a world of sustainable peace remained unchanged. Here are some of SIPRI's highlights of 2016.
Amiera Sawas and Florian Krampe put forward the case for the UN Security Council to put climate security risks on the agenda, as well as examining how Sweden could play a role in this as a non-permanent member of the Security Council in 2017 and 2018
Dr Florian Krampe provides commentary on the newly launched Report of the Secretary-General on the situation in the Lake Chad Basin region, arguing that the report would have been stronger if it had highlighted the underlying environmental contributions of the region’s fragility.
‘We have succeeded at keeping famine at bay, we have not kept suffering at bay’, said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres while briefing members of the UN Security Council on 12 October. Explaining the impediments to an effective response to the risks of famine in north-east Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen, and, Guterres named conflict as a root cause of famine.
Just like UNSC resolution 1325 and follow-up resolutions on Women, Peace and Security, feminist organisations – this time together with researchers – have driven awareness of the gender, climate change and security nexus. There is a long way to go, but there is strong interest from a wide range of stakeholders in supporting research on this nexus, to inform their work.
On 26 February 2018 the European Union (EU) adopted its latest Council Conclusions on Climate Diplomacy following a Council Meeting of Foreign Ministers in Brussels. These Council Conclusions are much more action-oriented than those adopted previously.
In 2017 there were 63 peace operations active—of which 13 were UN Peacekeeping operations. Many of these have been in place for decades, some even half a century, like those missions in Israel and Palestine or in Kashmir between India and Pakistan. Of course, the challenge of such peacebuilding missions is not only to stop violence and prevent a rekindling of conflict, but moreover to help societies and governments reset their internal relations on a peaceful path towards sustaining peace.
Ahead of the upcoming African Union (AU) Summit in February, SIPRI researchers give an impetus for the AU to refocus on climate-related security risks and build broad support to appoint a dedicated AU Special Envoy for Climate Change and Security.
Ahead of the fourth Planetary Security Conference on 19–20 February 2019 in The Hague, SIPRI authored the 2019 progress report ‘Climate Security – Making it #Doable.’ The report reviews progress made to address climate-related security risks in a time of growing geopolitical turmoil. The authors highlight three upcoming processes that will be key in shaping actions on climate security in 2019 and beyond.
During last year's Munich Security Conference, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg spoke about facing an increasingly more uncertain and unpredictable security environment. Speaking from the perspective of NATO, he argued that although allies disagree on certain issues, such as climate change, it is crucial to stand together.
Growth in global energy demands due to population and economic growth has caused energy-sector emissions to rise and surpass historic records. Clearly, efforts to sustainably mitigate climate change must therefore utilize renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, hydro, geothermal and sustainably harnessed biomass.
This SIPRI Essay discusses key findings from the Insights on Peace and Security paper ‘Climate Change in Women, Peace and Security Agenda National Action Plans’, which examines how the United Nations Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda national action plans (NAPs) frame climate change, and how may they promote women’s participation in addressing related risks.
Announced in December 2019, the European Green Deal (EGD) sets out Europe’s new growth strategy with the aim of transforming the now 27-country bloc from a high- to a low-carbon economy in order to reach zero net emissions by the year 2050.
To many, the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic came as a surprise. It has placed enormous strain on governments to contain the spread of the disease and address the fallout from the measures that have been implemented.
Last year, the Anthropocene Working Group—a group of researchers responsible for investigating a potential formalization of the Anthropocene—agreed to recognize a new geologic epoch to mark humans’ profound impact on the planet.
This SIPRI Essay was originally published in the print edition of the East African on 28 November and in the online edition on 12 December.
To accompany this commentary piece, SIPRI has also produced a video series (below) with interviews from representatives from East Africa.
With two new documents, the European Union (EU) has officially recognized the relevance of climate change to peace mediation. This is a welcome and timely development, but the language used still does not put enough emphasis on the human dimension of climate-related security risks.
In line with the evidence
On 23 February the United Nations (UN) Security Council will hold an open session on the topic of climate change and security. The security implications of climate change are highly diverse, crossing and linking different sectors of society. They have a particular relevance for the peace operations conducted by the UN (see box 1 and figure 1 below). As of December 2020:
As environmental activism increasingly takes place online, tactics of slow violence against activists have adapted, making use of social media and other digital tools to target often young activists. One of those methods, digital surveillance, deserves greater attention.
In this essay, the volume editors present the key themes of their new book Anthropocene (In)securities: Reflections on Collective Survival 50 Years After the Stockholm Conference, published this week by SIPRI and Oxford University Press.
Weather, weapons and wealth have all played roles in the long-running conflict between South Sudan and Sudan over the Abyei area. The conflict in Abyei—a disputed border region of farmland, desert and oil fields—has its origins in a long-running disagreement between two pastoralist groups, the local Ngok Dinka and Misseriyya Arab seasonal migrants (see figure 1).
On Monday, 13 December, Russia used its veto in the United Nations Security Council to block a thematic resolution on climate change and security. While the draft resolution contained specific actions, its main purpose was symbolic: to put the security implications of climate change firmly on the Security Council’s agenda.
Last week saw the launch of SIPRI’s major policy report Environment of Peace: Security in a New Era of Risk, looking at how to manage the growing risks emerging at the nexus of environmental degradation, peace and security.
A Ministerial Decision of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) last year opened the door for closer cooperation on climate-change related risks. How could the OSCE and its participating states build on this opportunity?
As world leaders gather in New York for the opening of the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly, far too many security key indicators are heading in a dangerous direction. We can, and must, turn them around.
As climate change intensifies, humanitarians working in fragile settings need timely, reliable information in order to mitigate the impacts of extreme weather and longer-term climatic trends on conflict dynamics. They should consider forging long-term partnerships with information providers.
Climate adaptation can reduce conflict risks and support peacebuilding. But this will only work if social factors are given as much attention as the technologies.
This SIPRI Topical Backgrounder provides an overview of the climate-related security risks in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, the current discourses on these risks within SADC, and SADC’s institutional architecture and policy responses to climate change.