Global peacebuilding charity International Alert has marked the UK launch of a G7-commissioned report on the impact of climate change on fragile states with a high-level event at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London.
The report, called A New Climate for Peace: Taking Action on Climate and Fragility Risks, was co-authored by Alert as part of an international consortium of Berlin-based think tank adelphi, the European Union Institute for Security Studies (EUISS), and the Wilson Center in Washington DC.
It states climate change is one of the biggest global security threats of the 21st century, and calls upon governments to put it at the forefront of foreign policy and ensure that responses to the complex risks it poses are joined-up.
Citing examples of how climate change is affecting countries around the world, from drought in Syria to flooding in Thailand, the report identifies seven compound risks that illustrate how the impacts of climate change interact with other stresses to threaten peace and security in fragile contexts. The report lays down concrete plans that governments can take to make conflict-affected regions more resilient.
These risks include competition over resources, livelihood insecurity and migration, and extreme weather events and disasters. The report also highlights the dangers of rising sea levels and coastal degradation, volatile food prices, and the unintended negative effects that could result from climate policies being implemented. The combination of these risks can overburden weak states, spurring social upheaval and sometimes violent conflict.
Keynote remarks were provided by the Rt. Hon. Baroness Anelay, Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The lead authors of the report from International Alert and adelphi also presented an overview of its findings and conclusions.
Dan Smith, Secretary General of International Alert, said: “If governments are serious about addressing the compound risks resulting from climate change, then the first thing they need to do is to understand them.
“This means developing new knowledge about them, bringing together different areas of natural and social science. But it also means adjusting their institutions and ways of working, and ensuring that their responses are joined-up. Business as usual is not an option.”
Earlier this month, the G7 foreign ministers welcomed the report and pledged a stronger joint commitment to addressing the climate risks faced by fragile states. They agreed to set up a working group to evaluate the study’s recommendations.
The full report, as well as an executive summary, can be downloaded here: www.international-alert.org/resources/publications/new-climate-peace.