28 May 2024

NL ARMS: Climate Security and the Military

Concepts, strategies and partnerships

At the start of each academic year, the Faculty of Military Sciences (FMS) at the Netherlands Defence Academy releases the Netherlands Annual Review of Military Studies (NL ARMS), presenting a segment of its research activities centered around an urgent theme. Climate change and the associated energy transition stand as prominent among these urgent themes, touching our society daily and demanding comprehensive examination due to their multifaceted scientific nature. This volume, however, focuses specifically on the military scientific perspective.

Clingendael researchers Sarah Lokenberg, Louise van Schaik, and Saskia Hollander contributed chapter 6 'Low Lands, High Stakes: How the Dutch Navigate Climate Security', that examines the influence of climate change on the strategic considerations of the Dutch military.

The impacts of a changing climate are unmistakably evident, globally but also domestically. The security implications of climate change shape the strategic environment of the Netherlands. Climate change impacts increase resource competition and manipulation, disrupt critical infrastructures, and affect military operations and capabilities. The energy transition that is catalysed by climate mitigation policies in turn has its own geopolitical implications as it affects the energy security positions of countries. These strategic security effects mean that the Dutch government cannot overlook the importance of climate security. Followed by an analysis of how climate security is featured in Dutch strategies and policies, this chapter proposes specific entry points for synthesising climate security through a 3D approach, by integrating it into development, diplomacy and defence activities. It moreover points to the need to consider the security and conflict risk dimension more prominently in its international climate action too.

Here are some of the recommendations that could be considered for integrating climate security into development, diplomacy and defence activities:

▪️Establish a climate security working group or division with a mandate to coordinate an inter-ministerial agenda for implementation.

▪️Greater involvement of the Dutch Armed Forces in early warning early action systems and a focus on prevention action through increased actionable foresight capacities.

▪️Enhance the potential of climate-sensitive peacebuilding by appointing climate security envoys in stabilisation and peacebuilding missions. 

▪️Consider more prominently conflict sensitivity in Dutch climate and resource interventions. 

▪️Pursue strategies to decarbonise the military in a conflict-sensitive way.

These are the abstract and a few recommendations from chapter 6 of the 2023 Netherlands Annual Review of Military Studies (NLARMS), edited by Georg Frerks, Rinze Geertsma, Jeroen Klomp and Tom Middendorp. The full report can be accessed through the link here.

Photo credit: Andre Klimke via Unsplash