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The Hague Roundtable on Climate & Security focuses on water
International cooperation on water-related climate risks was the theme of the fifth Hague Roundtable on Climate and Security on 19 April. More than 40 representatives of embassies and non-governmental institutes shared strategies on water issues at the meeting hosted by the Ambassador of Australia to the Netherlands, H.E. Dr Brett Mason.
Threats and opportunities were examined from various perspectives with the aim of building capacities to peacefully address challenges such as sea level rise, disaster response, droughts and water-related conflict.
The Roundtable meeting series is an initiative from the Institute for Environmental Security to share information and strategies to build action on addressing climate risks including natural resource availability, food security, migration, disaster response, and stability of fragile states.
IES publishes briefing in Planetary Security Initiative
6 June 2017
The Horn of Africa is incredibly dynamic and one of the world’s most food-insecure areas, drought being a direct trigger of recent food insecurity crises. In a region that is one of the most conflict-prone regions in Africa, the humanitarian impact is severe on an already vulnerable part of Africa. In turn the consequences of the drought in such a context are costly and potentially explosive: food and nutrition security are both a cause and consequence of conflict and instability. Building resilience to shocks is even more important in conflict-affected countries.
Most of the Horn of Africa may be classified as arid and semi-arid and livestock production is the economic mainstay of these environments. Pastoral communities have long adapted to harsh climatic conditions but they are now facing endemic insecurity with increasing climate variability, more frequent occurrence and intensity of droughts and competition for shrinking pasture and water resources.
Building on the growing momentum for change that addresses the underlying causes of vulnerability, this brief calls for recognition that livestock is a powerful engine and a key driver for sustainable agriculture, for poverty reduction and the achievement of food security and nutrition. It highlights the importance of longer-term solutions that keep the enhancement of the adaptive capacities of communities at the core of the responses and which address the relationship between issues that have the potential to drive conflict or peaceful cooperation.
General highlights risks of a changing climate to global security
14 February 2017
Major General Muniruzzaman (Ret.) of Bangladesh on 9-10 February highlighted the risks of a changing climate to global security and offered potential solutions to mitigate impacts that are already taking place. Speaking at the plenary and in a breakout session of the Future Force Conference in The Hague, the Netherlands, General Muniruzzaman emphasised the need to “climatise” military operations and equipment to meet changing mission conditions, while engaging with policy makers to peacefully meet with future mass migration, as vast areas of nation states are being lost to sea-level rise.
The Dutch Minister of Defence and the Dutch Chief of Defence hosted the Future Force Conference as a highly innovative international networking conference addressing the theme: From partnerships to ecosystems: combining our efforts for a more secure world.
In the conference breakout session “The Natural Resources & Security Nexus” panellists and audience members worked together through interactive voting to identify threats such as potential conflict over water and migration threats to stability. The group then discussed ways of working together to provide a more peaceful response to crises by global stakeholders including military units.
General Muniruzzaman especially captured breakout audience attention when he referred to the “water elite” as people with access to water in countries that are facing resource problems. The continuing dynamics of nuclear-armed powers in South Asia competing over and sharing the same water resources was another area of increasingly urgent focus.
At the closing plenary session, General Muniruzzaman made it resoundingly clear that climate impacts to security are 1) happening now 2) increasing in scope and severity and 3) an issue that requires global co-operation to reduce potential for conflict and widespread human suffering.
Representatives of the Institute for Environmental Security at the Conference included Shirleen Chin, Matt Luna and Wouter Veening. Preliminary impressions of the conference have been published on the Future Force website. Check there and on the GMACCC website (gmaccc.org) for further reports in the coming weeks.
Major General Muniruzzaman (Ret.) is Chairman of the Global Military Advisory Council on Climate Change (GMACCC).
Representatives from nearly 50 countries work together in The Hague
22 December 2016
The Institute for Environmental Security was pleased to co-organise the 5-6 December 2016 event at the Peace Palace in The Hague. Nearly 300 government officials and non-governmental representatives shared strategies and information on solutions to water- and climate-related security challenges, which was a key element in the Netherlands’ bid to join the UN Security Council in 2018.
The following article text and more information on the Conference can be found on the Planetary Security Initiative website at <planetarysecurityinitiative.org>.
The Planetary Security Initiative aims to stimulate the engagement of global experts and policy-makers in discussion and resulting action on climate change and security. Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders supported this conference goal in his address to the opening plenary session: “Climate experts and security policy makers are not yet sufficiently linked, and this is what is needed.”
Former Advisor to U.S. President Barack Obama, Alice Hill, urged in her opening statement that proof of climate change is overwhelming and is happening at an unprecedented rate – with impacts on communities and economies. Regarding stepping up as a global community to effectively combat climate change and its impacts, Amina J. Mohammed, Nigerian Minister of Environment, said that small groups of like-minded people are clearly able to change the world, and that the needed expenditure to meet climate challenges is as small as “peanuts” in the context of the global economy.
Netherlands Chief of Defence General Tom Middendorp (in photo above) reinforced the urgency of global cooperation in his plenary remarks when he referred to uncertainty surrounding U.S. President-elect Trump’s position on climate change: “As Chief of Defence, I believe climate change can be a root cause of conflict, can create breeding grounds for extremism, and can trigger migration flows… And therefore I believe there is no security… without climate security.” Minister Koenders’ also cautioned against approaching global challenges “from a narrow, national perspective.”
Twelve working groups during the two-day Conference focused on sharing information among stakeholders in order to develop policy action points. Several of the groups called for better linkages between policy makers and practitioners. The group on the Middle East and North Africa stressed that the need to “fill the gap between high-level policy planning and the situation on the ground. We need figures on the economic benefits of an integrated approach to address water-energy-food scarcity and pilots to prove these benefits in practice, in order for policy-makers to be convinced to plan for sustainability".
The working group on the European Union noted that EU actions on food and water security, and disaster resilience are “not always pursued as part of a specific climate security strategy" and called for "moving forward simultaneously at the political, strategic and institutional levels to ensure that concrete actions on the ground are appropriately targeted and robustly supported". The group also called for integrating climate and resource issues into EU regional strategies, building robust climate diplomacy resources and working with EU member states to drive climate integration within UN bodies".
A monitor and report on The Economics of Planetary Security: Climate Change as an Economic Conflict Factor was published on the first day of the conference as a key input. The publication models the economic impacts of climate change together with conflict risk, and explores what makes some countries resilient while asking if these factors can implemented in other countries to help protect people from climate impacts.
Another PSI report on the global resilience agenda and climate fragility risks discusses recent developments in the field of climate and security. This report is a follow-up to the landmark study New Climate for Peace published in 2015 as input for the G7. This years' report points to a deteriorating security situation, but also to efforts to combat climate change, build resilience and improve early warning and conflict prevention mechanisms.
Chair of the Planetary Security Advisory Board, Alexander Verbeek, said: “Millions of people are already adapting to the impacts of climate change: insecurity of water supplies, sea level rise, food shortages, energy shortages and more. Through the Planetary Security Initiative we are developing a community of practice that addresses the impacts of environmental stress on security. This includes social, economic and political stability, human well-being, and international security. This Community of Practice does not work in isolation, but forms part of a growing worldwide effort to increase environmental sustainability.”
This 2016 conference was the second annual conference in the initiative. Created by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Planetary Security Initiative is now implemented by an international consortium of leading think tanks.
Planetary Security Conference is held in The Hague
6 December 2016
The leading lights of the global community working on the risk to security posed by climate change met in The Hague on December 5-6 at the Planetary Security Conference.
Launched in 2015, the Planetary Security Initiative (PSI) was created by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a three year programme to engage representatives at all levels of governance, academia, civil society, and the private sector to work together on timely responses to climate related threats to security.
The conference is now organised by a consortium of leading think tanks and brings together expert input on policy solutions in this field. Many more organisations are involved in co-organising 12 Working Groups to discuss pressing issues on this increasingly urgent security agenda.
Clingendael Institute heads the consortium. Project Manager Louise van Schaik said “We are very excited to move from the introduction of the problem to formulating solutions. For that we need international political support up to the highest level.”
On behalf of the Netherlands government, Bert Koenders, Minister of Foreign Affairs, delivered the opening address. At last years' conference he emphasised the pressure on the world’s economic, social and political systems caused by climate change, and that the "most serious risks will emerge when the impacts of climate change overburden weak states". Netherlands Chief of Defence General Tom Middendorp who said earlier this month climate change impacts were fuelling war worldwide, also spoke in the opening session.
“Climate change creates conflict, it creates a ground for extremism, it creates a ground for migration flows,” Middendorp said.
Although numerous governments and institutions such as the UN and NATO have recognized climate impacts on conflict and human security, we now need to translate this into putting policies in place to deal with these risks which are still underestimated. This conference aims to improve understanding in foreign and defense policy circles.
Alexander Verbeek, advisor of the Planetary Security Initiative, said, “The PSI is about engaging the policy makers as we work to translate experts’ analysis into action. We aim to move forward, and quickly, on last year’s interaction of these two constituent groups from over 75 countries.”
Two groundbreaking reports were prepared as key inputs to the conference - a new monitor, the Economics of Planetary Security: Climate Change as an Economic Conflict Factor, which has for the first time modelled the economic impact of climate change in conjunction with conflict risk with startling results.
The second report, Towards A Global Resilience Agenda, assesses the developments in the climate and security policy space and finds further progress in this regard crucial as the security environment has worsened over the past 18 months.
Other top speakers at the Conference include Amina J. Mohammed, Minister of Environment of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; Peter Fischer, Deputy Director General for Energy and Climate Policy and Export Control, German Federal Foreign Office; Paula Caballero, Global Director, Climate Program, World Resources Institute (WRI); and André Haspels, Director General Political Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.