Climate – Security – Fragility

© GIZ / Markus Kirchgessner

Climate change is the key security threat of the 21st century. Increasing weather extremes, rising sea levels and the growing risk of environmental disasters are depriving more and more people worldwide of their livelihoods. Resource scarcity due to climate change and the prospect of struggling just to survive are exacerbating communal tensions and weaknesses in governance. The question is no longer whether climate change has an impact on (violent) conflicts, but when, how and where it intensifies conflict situations – especially in fragile contexts.

People leave their homes for many different reasons, usually in search of work, income, peace and security. In many regions of the world, these factors are increasingly driven by climate change impacts such as droughts, floods and extreme weather events, not only undermining people’s quality of life but actually putting their lives at risk. As a result, displacement and migration are on the rise worldwide. Leaving their homeland permanently to escape an environment that has become unbearable is often the last resort for those affected. A 2021 World Bank study projects that over 216 million people in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Latin America will migrate within their countries or regions by 2050 due to climate change.

When advising on climate and security issues, GIZ’s holistic approach addresses not only the adverse impacts of climate change but also the resulting migratory pressures and conflicts and vital governance issues. GIZ’s focus is on the contributions that climate projects can make to peacebuilding and to consolidating the progress already made through international cooperation. Conflict-sensitivity is a crucial aspect of project design as it helps to ensure that climate policy rests on a sustainable foundation, especially in fragile contexts. There is an important role here for climate risk analyses based on medium- to long-term projections of how the climate in a country or region will change, for example by 2030 or 2050. Analyses of this kind provide information on which population groups, which sectors and which regions will be affected by climate change and how. As such, they underpin all action to prevent or mitigate risks through appropriate adaptation measures. In conjunction with integrated peace and conflict assessments (iPCAs) and GIZ’s Safeguards and Gender Management System, climate risk analyses help to identify climate risks in a specific context while also ensuring that projects are planned and implemented in a multi-sectoral and conflict-sensitive manner.

Climate policy must therefore be data- and evidence-based, and climate adaptation measures with peacebuilding goals must be given the financial and human resources they need, for example to minimise the scale of climate-induced migration.