05 December 2017

Action on Climate and Security Risks

This report looks at progress made on policy and practical responses to climate-security risks for 2016-2017. Using the independent G7 commissioned report A New Climate for Peace as a basis, and building on last year’s report, Towards A Global Resilience Agenda, this year’s report sets out the key achievements, pitfalls and new challenges facing the foreign policy community working to reduce climate-fragility risks.

The scan of the 2017 horizon shows that climate fragility risks persist and are worsening. The world is facing more climatic extremes, a greater number of increasingly internationalised conflicts, the highest levels of hunger and displacement since World War Two, and an increasingly volatile geopolitical landscape.

A review of progress presents a mixed bag but, on balance, offers more grounds for optimism than for pessimism. There have been positive steps towards new and deeper partnerships for resilience, for example, between the EU and China, across 14 US states following Trump’s threatened withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, and between municipal authorities around the world. There has been greater acknowledgement of climate-fragility risks in national and global fora, policies and strategies, for example in the EU’s Global Resilience Strategy, UNSC Resolution 2349 on Lake Chad, and the Australian Senate Inquiry into climate and security. There have also been steps to operationalise action to address climate-fragility risks, for example, the G7 and partner states are supporting a comprehensive risk assessment of Lake Chad. But these practical steps towards implementation - which are few and far between - should be scaled up and multiplied.

2017 marks a decade since the policy and practitioner community began to seriously look at climate change as a security risk. Whilst continued research, dialogue and policy gains are important and must continue, this ten year anniversary is an apt moment to resolutely pivot from continued discussion, analysis, and supportive statements, towards action. 

Photo credits: ©FAO/Marco de Gaetano