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Climate and security: evidence, emerging risks and a new research agenda

Working Papers N°12/2013. Iddri, 2013. 24 p.

Un article consacré aux liens entre changement cliamtique et sécurité, compte rendu des échanges entre participants à l'atelier "Climate and security: evidence, emerging risks and a new research agenda" organisé les 3 et 4 mai 2012 conjointement par l'Iddri, l'université d'Exeter (Royaume-Uni) et le Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (États-Unis).

Points clés [en anglais] :

  • UNDERSTANDING THE RAMIFICATIONS OF THE CLIMATE-SECURITY NEXUS

A common challenge for policymakers and researchers are the several ramifications of the potential and existing links between climate change and security. Opportunities of environmental peace-building exist within places vulnerable to climate change and affected by conflicts. They require, however, efforts to frame climate policies within a peace agenda. States affected by changing weather patterns, increasing societal vulnerabilities and shifting demographics are constrained to develop capacity-building to adapt to environmental changes. Finally, strategic issues, including water and energy resources, as well as critical infrastructure—roads, ports or airports— are also affected by climate change. Too often, simplistic assumptions are sketched out about water scarcity conflicts, risks for critical infrastructure and tensions between climate and energy security.

  • FOSTERING COOPERATION AND AVOIDING THE SECURITISATION OF CLIMATE POLICIES

There is clear evidence that the human impacts of climate change are being felt more quickly and profoundly than what societies are prepared for. At the same time that it poses risks for society at large, it also opens avenues for cooperation. The work of humanitarian, military and development agencies will need to evolve and be better coordinated to tackle environmental changes. However, policy responses to climate change will need to avoid an excessive focus on the security side of the issue in order to grasp changing risks. Indeed, security responses should not overshadow responses that address root causes of climate change and development.

  • SUPPORTING RESEARCH TO CREATE PRACTICAL KNOWLEDGE FOR ACTION

Currently, robust bodies of research already exist around the risk of violent conflict, forced migration and human security. More bridges, however, should be built between quantitative and qualitative research, so that the observed correlations between environmental changes and conflicts are better explained. Furthermore, some key themes have not yet been properly addressed by research and policy. These include the risks of climate change to security policies; the new geopolitics that will be induced by climate change; humanitarian crises and system resilience; the risks brought about by mitigation and adaptation projects; and the linkages between climate policies and peace-building efforts.