Climate Change, Peace and Security​

Climate Change, Peace and Security

Climate change is often considered as a threat to peace and stability in the world. It is rightfully recognized as a “threat multiplier.” What does the term mean and why is it often used in relation to climate change, peace and security? Climate change is a problem not only by itself, but also in terms of its effect on other different challenges the world faces today. When it overlaps with the existing problems like lack of resources, poor management practices, existing conflicts, migration related issues the risks to peace and stability become higher.

Growing number of the local conflicts from the countries affected the most by climate change, suggest that it can have a significant effect on the relations between the communities. Some examples are discussed below:

  1. Competition for the resources: climate change has a big potential to accelerate the competition for resources and cause conflicts in the areas where the resources are already scarce. When the physical impact of climate change makes the crucial resources for the community less viable, it increases the local competition for the existing resources which has a potential to increase criminal and illegal activities too that jeopardize the security environment. What is more, resource scarcity often drives communities to change their habits or lifestyle,or even move to other areas and start using the resources that can be offered by the new living environment. However, this process is also associated with challenges for peace. The example of this is the heightened tensions between herders and farmers in some parts of the world, where droughts force the herders to move to farmers lands and the probability that their animals will damage the farmers’ crops heightens tensions between them.
  2. Another challenge is the migration process that can be fostered through climate change. Climate change affects peoples’ livelihoods. Livelihood insecurity leads to increased poverty which pushes people to leave their areas of inhabitance. Increased numbers of migrants can worsen the prejudices about newcomers in hosting societies. Quite often, for people it is associated with growing competition for workplaces. This has a potential to be a source of increased tensions. This problem is especially relevant for the states/communities with poor government practices and inability to deal with societal challenges and conflicts.
  3. In the societies where the conflict is already existent due to the inequalities or sharp divisions on community lines, economic and social problems worsened by climate change has a potential to contribute to deepening these conflicts. Existing grievances become stronger due to the new challenges which make the situation more complex by nature. Dealing with these conflicts is also a harder task in these kinds of scenarios.

Thus, climate change has the power to affect the peace and security environment around the world. Challenges associated with climate change both create the bases for conflicts and also contribute to the existing ones to become more difficult to be dealt with. Considering this, it means that taking actions on climate change is also an action for a more stable peace and security environment around the world.