Background

Climate fragility risks will change the foreign policy landscape

The planet’s limited resources are under pressure. Demand for food, water, and energy is increasing. Inequality, unemployment, rapid urbanization, and environmental degradation are converging and increasingly challenge efforts to reduce poverty and increase economic development in many poor countries.

Where the impacts of climate change interact with other stresses, the combination can overburden weak states, spurring social upheaval and sometimes violent conflict. Even seemingly stable states can be pushed towards instability if the pressure is high enough or shock is too great.

In fragile regions, persistent inequality, political marginalization, and unresponsive governments can increase the potential for instability and conflict. The addition of climate impacts will multiply these pressures and strain countries’ ability to meet their citizens’ needs.

To read more, download the background paper to the conference or visit the Climate Diplomacy website for the latest news and publications on climate change and security.

German engagement within the United Nations Security Council

Germany has made the link between climate change and security policy a top priority for its two-year term (2019-2020) as a UN Security Council elected member. Despite the increasing salience of this topic, it is currently lacking a proper institutional home that could offer support and advice on how to systematically address climate-related security risks. Yet thanks to the efforts of several recent UNSC member states, including the Netherlands and Sweden in particular, the past two years have witnessed growing support for a greater focus on the related threats, with several UNSC resolutions calling for risk assessments and risk management strategies regarding the adverse implications of climate change in specific regional contexts.

To further strengthen UN engagement on the issue, Germany, together with the Pacific state Nauru, officially established the Group of Friends on Climate and Security within the United Nations on 1 August 2018. In support of the Group of Friends, adelphi, on behalf of the German Federal Foreign Office, is acting as the Secretariat for the Climate and Security Expert Network. This international network supports the Group of Friends by synthesizing scientific knowledge and expertise, by advising on entry points for building resilience to climate-security risks, and by helping to strengthen a shared understanding of the challenges and opportunities of addressing climate-related security risks, laying the groundwork for global cooperation on this issue.