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Planetary Security Conference highlights solutions to climate risks

Representatives from nearly 50 countries work together in The Hague

Planetary Security Conference highlights solutions to climate risks - ImageThe 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.

Future Force Conference Features GMACCC Chairman

General highlights risks of a changing climate to global security
14 February 2017

Future Force Conference Features GMACCC Chairman - Image 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).

Global experts and governments convene to confront climate change security risks

Planetary Security Conference is held in The Hague
6 December 2016

Global experts and governments convene to confront climate change security risks - Image 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.

GMACCC South Asia Paper Presented At Hague Roundtable

15 countries attend IES meeting initiative on climate and security
26 October 2016

GMACCC South Asia Paper Presented At Hague Roundtable - Image Fifteen countries and eight organisations were represented as Wouter Veening, Chairman of the Institute for Environmental Security (IES), presented the latest GMACCC publication at the Hague Roundtable on Climate and Security. The event was held on 25 October 2016 at the Embassy of Canada to the Netherlands.

The May 2016 GMACCC publication “Climate Change & Security In South Asia: Cooperating For Peace” analyses current and likely climate impacts on political stability, livelihoods and conflict. The report encourages regional cooperation to help mitigate risks. GMACCC Chairman, Major General Muniruzzaman (Ret.) of Bangladesh, addressed the Roundtable by video message to introduce the report.

The Hague Roundtable on Climate and Security is an ongoing initiative that brings together stakeholders for sharing information and identifying opportunities for cooperation in addressing climate risks to peace and sustainable development. The Roundtable meetings also support the annual Planetary Security Conference in the Netherlands by providing an interactive platform on the subject throughout the year.


Other presentations at the fourth Roundtable meeting included the Microbial Desalination (MIDES) project, transboundary water cooperation from UNESCO-IHE, and a COP 22 preview. A report from the Roundtable will be published soon.

For more information on The Hague Roundtable on Climate and Security, contact Matt Luna with the Institute for Environmental Security at mluna@envirosecurity.org

GMACCC publishes "Climate Change & Security in South Asia: Cooperating for Peace"

Maintaining Security in South Asia in the face of climate change requires urgent cooperation
30 May 2016

GMACCC publishes A GMACCC report published on 31 May 2016 warns that a recent drought in India which has affected over 330 million people – causing displacement and threatening farms – is just the first hint of how climate change could destabilise the South Asian region, unless steps are taken to address the threat posed by a warming, resource-scarce world.

"Climate Change and Security in South Asia: Cooperating for Peace,” by GMACCC authors (from left in photo above) Lt. General Tariq Waseem Ghazi (Ret.) of Pakistan, Maj. General A.N.M. Muniruzzaman (Ret.) of Bangladesh, and Air Marshal A.K. Singh (Ret.) of India recommends that the region’s leaders strengthen cooperation to reduce the potential for widespread human suffering and further instability.

The report also calls for better data collection and sharing to inform policies to prevent climate risks leading to conflict, humanitarian crises and the spread of extremism by groups that exploit opportunities in times of crises and instability. In South Asia, climate change will result in more frequent and more intense natural disasters, spurring water and food shortages, mass displacement and migration and competition over land and natural resources.

The publication comes days after the Pacific Islands called for the creation of a UN Special Representative on Climate and Security at the World Humanitarian Summit. In addition, last week G7 leaders meeting in Japan missed an opportunity to scale up their plans to address the implications of climate change for security, despite a year-long work plan by those governments on the issue. With more such impacts on the horizon, the compounding effects can have far reaching consequences undermining economic stability, increasing societal tensions and threatening regional and international security, the report warns.

Author comments:

“The recent drought has illustrated just how climate change creates chronic economic problems in South Asia such as unemployment. These conditions can contribute to militancy, terrorism and organised crime, aggravating existing conflicts and giving rise to new ones.” - Air Marshall A.K. Singh (Ret.) from India said.

“While South Asia has a long history of regional instability, the challenge of addressing climate change actually represents an opportunity to catalyse long term peace in the region through continuous dialogue and cooperation. If South Asia succeeds in joining forces against this common and urgent challenge, it would be a model for other parts of the world.” - Maj. General A.N.M. Muniruzzaman (Ret.) from Bangladesh said.

Lt. General Tariq Waseem Ghazi (Ret.) of Pakistan added: “South Asia is an example of a region where climate impacts are already affecting security - other countries would benefit from watching closely, and moving to integrate climate change in their security planning. If addressed jointly across borders, we can increase stability and save lives, for example by coordinating in response to natural disasters and water shortages. This report is about militaries cooperating for peace.”



For Press Contacts and more information:

Matt Luna, Communication Officer, Institute for Environmental Security (IES) / GMACCC, mluna@envirosecurity.org

Ria Voorhaar, Outreach and Engagement Director, Global Strategic Communications Council, ria.v@comms.global

Download the PDF "Climate Change & Security in South Asia: Cooperating for Peace"

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