Terrorist groups such as the Islamic State and Boko Haram have been dominating the headlines since 2013.
Both groups have gained international notoriety for their ruthless brutality and their rise is posing new challenges for national, regional and international security.
Such non-state armed groups (NSAG) are not a new phenomenon.
Today, however, we can observe an increasingly complex landscape of violent actors with a range of hybrid organisational structures, different agendas and different levels of engagement with society that set them apart from ‘traditional’ non-state actors and result in new patterns of violence.
At the same time, there has been increasing acknowledgement within the academic literature and among the policy community of the relationship between climate change and security.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) underlined in its latest report from 2014 that human security will be progressively threatened as the climate changes.
Analysing its impacts on fragility, an independent report for the G7 Foreign Ministers concluded that climate change is a global threat to international security.
As the ultimate threat multiplier, it aggravates already fragile situations and may contribute to social upheaval and even violent con ict (Rüttinger et al. 2015).
While these reports touch upon the topic of non- state armed actors, they do not specifcally and comprehensively spell out the links between climate change, fragility and these actors.
Over the past ten years, both our understanding and awareness of the links between climate change and security have increased tremendously.
Today the UN, the EU, the G7 and an increasing number of states have classified climate change as a threat to global and/or national security (American Security Project 2014; European Commission 2008; UN Security Council 2011).
However, the links between climate change, conflict and fragility are not simple and linear.
The increasing impacts of climate change do not automatically lead to more fragility and conflict.
Rather, climate change acts as a threat multiplier.
States experiencing fragility or conflict are particularly affected, but seemingly stable states can also be overburdened by the combined pressures of climate change, population growth, urbanization, environmental degradation and rising socio-economic inequalities (Carius et al. 2008; WBGU 2007, CNA 2007, Rüttinger et al. 2015).
In 2015, the report “A New Climate for Peace” (Rüttinger et al. 2015), commissioned by the G7 Foreign Ministries, identified seven compound climate-fragility risks that pose a serious threat to the stability of states and societies.
Local resource competition: As the pressure on natural resources increases, competition can lead to instability and even violent conflict in the absence of effective dispute resolution.
Livelihood insecurity and migration: Climate change will increase the human insecurity of people who depend on natural resources for their livelihoods, which could push them to migrate or turn to more informal or illegal sources of income.
Extreme weather events and disasters will exacerbate fragility challenges and can increase people’s vulnerability and grievances, especially in conflict-affected situations.
Volatile food prices and provision: Climate change is highly likely to disrupt food production in many regions, increasing prices and market volatility, and heightening the risk of protests, rioting, and civil conflict.
Transboundary water management is frequently a source of tension; as demand grows and climate impacts affect availability and quality, competition over water use will likely increase the pressure on existing governance structures.
Sea-level rise and coastal degradation: Rising sea levels will threaten the viability of low-lying areas even before they are submerged, leading to social disruption, displacement, and migration, while disagreements over maritime boundaries and ocean resources may increase.
Unintended effects of climate policies: As climate change adaptation and mitigation policies are more broadly implemented, the risks of unintended negative effects – particularly in fragile contexts – will also increase.
“A New Climate for Peace” is an independent report commissioned by the G7 Member States.
The report was prepared by an independent consortium of leading research institutions, headed by adelphi, with International Alert, the Wilson Center, and the EU Institute for Security Studies, and was submitted to the G7 in April 2015.
Press link for more: Report