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Do Not Underestimate the Links Between Climate Change and Conflict, Experts Warn

General Tom Middendorp, Chair of the IMCCS: “I would sacrifice my life for a world where we wouldn’t need a military…But in reality, there is friction. And especially in fragile states when security levels and security institutions are poor, you see that friction easily flame up into conflicts. And climate is accelerating that.” – Munich Security Conference 2020

General Tom Middendorp (ret.), Chair of the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS), is one of more than a dozen leaders in the fields of climate science, peacebuilding, and security to have endorsed a joint statement released on April 27th calling for the links between climate change and conflict to inform a broad spectrum of policy-making and programming.

The statement, initiated by the multilateral climate security analysis and foresight initiative Weathering Risk, urges decision-makers to consider the findings on climate change and conflict in the IPCC report on impacts, adaptation and vulnerability published in February in their entirety. Following the report’s publication, some political actors over-simplified and downplayed these findings, implying that peacebuilding policy should not be concerned with climate change.

The statement includes a series of recommendations to better integrate the fight against climate change and efforts to prevent and respond to conflicts. These will help prevent future losses and damages while supporting truly sustainable development and promoting peace and stability, the statement says.

“Addressing the climate-security nexus is an essential component of climate justice” it reads, continuing: “The international community should do whatever it takes to protect those who have contributed the least to the climate crisis, and already face the greatest risks to their lives and livelihoods, from the terrible prospect of violent conflict.”

The statement builds on the ongoing work of IMCCS, an international network facilitated by the Center for Climate and Security in partnership with a consortium of key organizations, that seeks to anticipate, analyze, and address the security risks of climate change. The 2021 World Climate and Security Report urges that, “Climate-proofing development for fragile or brittle states should be a priority for conflict prevention.” It also emphasizes that given warnings about the catastrophic security implications of climate change, peace and security experts should be leading voices urging action.

Download the full statement here.

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