16 December 2022

Task Force report: Six questions on climate security for India

The IPCS taskforce (TF) on climate security in India was convened over 2021-22. It is part of a multi-year project on the security implications of climate change for South Asia, executed in partnership with the Clingendael Institute in the Netherlands. A track 1.5 initiative, the TF comprised Indian academics, climate experts, scholar-activists, technical experts, and security practitioners. These were 19 specialists—one of whom requested anonymity—from diverse backgrounds who wouldn’t otherwise find themselves in the same room. 

We held three full-group virtual TF meetings; these were supplemented by small group discussions to vet member inputs and finalise language. Disagreement was particularly encouraged. TF members approved the minutes of each meeting before proceeding to the next stage. This report is therefore a consensus-based document. Presented as six questions and answers and a policy framework recommendation, it distils deliberations that were structured around the four primary prompts listed below, and several injects: 

Understanding the relationship between climate change and security
Identifying existing, emerging, and new climate security fault-lines
Discerning institutional approaches to address climate security
Conceptualising a broad definition of climate security that best reflects Indian experiences.

The TF was conceptualised during the COVID-19 pandemic and draws some of its rationale from it. We have seen the pandemic irrefutably confirm the obvious, i.e. the insufficiency of existing security frameworks to tackle hybrid challenges. These challenges defy easy categorisation (such as ‘traditional’ and ‘non-traditional’ security). The security implications of climate change follow the same logic. We are able to acknowledge it as a 'problem', but the problem can’t be solved unless we know what it looks like in practice. Nor can we articulate these risks if we don’t yet have the language to do so. 

As an investigation into the points of intersection between security and climate change in India, and its domestic and transnational implications, this TF is a first step in framing 2 new security paradigms, providing policy backstopping, and flagging potential avenues of cooperation in South Asia.

Read the report here. Watch the video explainer here

Photocredit: Public.Resource.Org/Flickr