Around the world, a series of new “hottest ever” local records have been set. Africa has experienced what is probably its hottest ever daily temperature. The world’s highest “daily minimum” temperature (i.e., the lowest temperature in that 24-hour period) has been recorded – over 42°C in Oman, for those of you trying to handle a modest mid-30s of an afternoon by the Med. Northern Arctic sea ice is breaking up for the first time on record. What are the trends and what are the implications for peace and security? Continue reading
Last week’s communiqué from the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Lübeck included a statement on climate change and security. In welcoming a report, A New Climate for Peace, to which my organisation International Alert contributed, the communiqué moves the issue forward and declares it to be worthy of high level political attention. Unfortunately, what is to be done is not so clear. Continue reading
Posted in Climate change, Conflict & peace, Resilience
Tagged adelphi, Climate change, climate conflict, COP 21, disaster risk reduction, EU Institute for Security Studies, food security, fragile states, G7, human security, International Alert, transboundary water disputes, UNFCCC, Wilson Center
For the past two and half years, International Alert has been conducting field research in four South Asian countries on vulnerability to the effects of climate change, possibilities for adaptation, obstacles and how to overcome them. What shines out of these studies is the need for policies that integrate responses to climate and conflict challenges into developing a broadly based quality of resilience – in local communities and on the national stage. Continue reading
International Alert convenes an expert roundtable, Building resilience – building peace, in Kathmandu on Monday 8 July. It’s the culmination of two and half years of research on the impact of climate change on local communities in Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan. I can’t be there so we recorded four minutes to camera as my contribution to the day’s events.
My brief comments emphasise the importance of thinking about the impact of climate change on four critical system – supply of water, food security, energy availability and supply natural resources supply. Responding to the challenge of climate change is about building resilience in those systems on which people everywhere depend.
This blog has been silent for several months. The main reason was simply that, alongside my day job, I had taken on another research and writing task – preparing the next edition of my atlas of world affairs, The State of the World – and that took priority. But that’s done (publication date January 2013 but if you really want to use it as a Christmas present, get in touch – pre-publication copies have to be available) and so the blog is back.
At this point, I just want to give an idea of what I intend to be tackling over the coming months. There are five big issues that we – the world – need to get right if more people are to be able live in peace and with a reasonable degree of dignity. They are
- Wealth and poverty;
- War and peace;
- Rights and respect;
- Health of people;
- Health of the planet – the natural environment.
Despite the pessimism in Europe and America in this extended “moment” of prolonged economic downturn, reasonable progress has been made on three of those issues – war and peace, rights and respect, and health. Even though progress is limited and at risk from powerful countervailing trends, there has been real improvement. It’s on the economy and the environment that we are continuing to screw up.
The background to this lies in some very big issues:
- The unprecedented scale of demographic shifts, including both population growth and staggeringly fast urbanisation;
- The scale of resource use and economic activity, which has increased much more quickly than population has grown;
- The deep, global environmental predicament we are in – and getting deeper in: it is still poorly understood – among the missing ingredients of our knowledge are the consequences of different environmental issues interacting with each other.
Against this background, questions for my blogging include
- How to keep building peace and expanding the scope of freedom;
- Finding ways to ensure that economic and social development is about improving the conditions of ordinary people, not about strengthening the hold of an increasingly transnational-ised elite;
- Working out which of our national and international institutions are not delivering the way they should be, why, and what can be done to, with and about them;
- What kinds of knowledge we need in order to do better.
A recent meeting at DFID brought together a number of people from different government departments, NGOs and research centres to discuss some of the under-discussed aspects of the climate/security links. Laurie Goering captured the essence of the discussion in this AlertNet article.
It is sometimes difficult to give a vivid and convincing sense of the link between climate and the problems of insecurity. The linkage is indirect and can seem intangible. And there is a lack of hard evidence with which to demonstrate it because the problems are only now beginning. But then sometimes the link is brought out into the open in the most vivid and cogent form. Continue reading