As the high-level meetings of the 76th UN General Assembly kick off this week, climate change is front and center. Secretary-General Guterres led with a strong call to action, saying “The world must wake up,” to the, “the greatest cascade of crises in our lifetimes.” On Thursday, the UN Security Council (UNSC) prepares to debate climate security again. Ahead of the meeting, it’s useful to examine how the UN can drive action to match the ambition of past verbal commitments. How can it implement climate security practices to address the increasing risks to peace posed by rising temperatures? The 2021 World Climate and Security Report, released in June of this year, has some answers to this question, which we have excerpted below:
The UN system has long led the global effort on negotiated reductions in national emissions. With key nations and other multilateral institutions unable or unwilling to act, the UN process has persevered in keeping negotiated climate action on the global agenda. With political will now building within its most powerful members, the UN-led international system must seize the initiative to address all aspects of climate change drawing on the core tenets of its founding principles: peace, security, sovereignty, and human rights. It must adapt and update treaties and protocols that govern the global commons and shared environmental resources.
There are important steps all UN member states can take within their regional blocks and in the General Assembly to advocate for climate security integration into UN institutions and processes. These longer-term actions will require sustained commitment and coalition-building to enact. Broad-based support will be especially critical in the UN General Assembly’s Fifth Committee which has authority over budget and management issues. These steps include:
- The official integration of climate security considerations into each UN mission’s semi-annual report to the Secretary General and the UNSC. Each Force Commander could also be tasked with including climate security considerations in their annual briefings.
- The establishment of multiple regional Climate Security Crisis Watch Centers which feed into a UN-wide Climate Security Crisis Watch Center. Such centers would have the triple benefits of: cultivating a shared data driven community; giving regional organizations a role in the success of a global climate security data network; and connecting these organizations through their common mission.208
- With a UNSC or UN General Assembly climate and security mandate, the Secretary General could exercise his authority to appoint a Special Representative of the Secretary General for Climate Security as part of the Special Advisors, Representatives and Envoys construct. In the absence of a UN climate and security mandate, like-minded member states should encourage the Secretary General to appoint a Personal Representative for Climate Security.
- Further building out an institutional structure through the creation of an office for climate and security within the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs at the Assistant Secretary General-level, a division for climate and security within the Department of Peace Operations, and a climate security unit within the Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
- Any climate and security organizational entity established should work closely with the Secretary General’s Special Advisor for Climate Action, currently dual-hatted as the Assistant Secretary General for the UN Climate Action Team.
Incorporating climate security successfully will require the same level of discipline and rigor as are afforded other critical security issues within the UN system, including full integration into training, education, situational assessments, planning and operations. Institutionalizing analysis and action on climate security risks and opportunities throughout the UN will help the organization meet its mission to maintain international peace and security.
The Center for Climate and Security, the American Security Project, and the Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program are pleased to announce the 2021-2022 Climate and Security Advisory Group’s Climate Security Fellows cohort. The group of 15 rising leaders come from diverse backgrounds across the U.S. government and the civil and private sectors, where they are emerging experts on the links between climate change and national security. We are thrilled to welcome them to this program, and encourage you to learn more about this impressive cohort below.
Kidan Araya is an environmental strategist and climate finance professional with nearly a decade of experience working on natural resource governance issues across Africa and the United States. Kidan first became involved in climate security as a U.S. Department of State Benjamin A. Gilman Scholar researching community forest governance in Cameroon. She currently serves as the inaugural Climate Finance Fellow for the Wallace Global Fund, an international philanthropic foundation dedicated to preserving democracy worldwide – started by the family of Former Vice President Henry A. Wallace. Before then, Kidan served as a focal point for West and Southern Africa for an international environmental campaign where she created and implemented advocacy and partnership engagement strategies alongside civil society to combat illegal logging and environmental crime in Africa. She holds a M.A. in Geography from the University of Washington at Seattle, and a B.A. in International Relations and Environmental Studies from Beloit College. She also serves as a Board Member for the Africa Policy Accelerator, a network consisting of the next generation of U.S.- Africa policymakers, at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington D.C.
Bert Cramer manages threat reduction programming for the Department of Defense and enjoys contributing subject matter expertise to Department-wide efforts addressing defense risks and threats stemming from climate change. Bert began his federal service as a Presidential Management Fellow, and has previously served with AmeriCorps VISTA, Peace Corps, and Peace Corps Response. His expertise in critical infrastructure resilience, disaster risk reduction, partner capacity building, and complex adaptive systems has taken him across the breadth and depth of the United States and Central Asia for the past fifteen years. Bert has an undergraduate degree from Cornell University and graduate degrees from the OSCE Academy and Tulane University.
Brittany Croll is an International Relations Specialist in the Global Ocean Monitoring and Observation Program at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Brittany is focused on ocean and climate issues with a portfolio that includes serving as the NOAA representative for UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations, strategic planning and analysis on regional issues in areas such as the Tropical Pacific and the Arctic, and evaluating opportunities for increasing engagement with new partners including the private sector to advance ocean science. She has served on multiple U.S. delegations for the UNFCCC, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and World Meteorological Organization. She has a particular interest in the role of science diplomacy as a potential tool for addressing emerging climate security risks. Brittany joined NOAA in 2010 and spent six years working in NOAA Fisheries on the natural resource damage assessment for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill helping to lead the restoration planning efforts. She came to NOAA after a four year Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) fellowship with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Water. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies from Franklin and Marshall College, a Master’s degree in Global Environmental Policy from American University, and a Master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University in Energy Policy and Climate and National Security Studies.
Sam Driggers is a civil servant with the U.S. Department of Defense, where he uses qualitative and quantitative research methods to analyze the effects of climate change on national security. As a graduate student at the University of Georgia, Sam focused his research on the political and geographic factors driving the initiation and management of transboundary water resource disputes. Sam also previously served as a research assistant with the Carl Vinson Institute of Government’s Planning and Environmental Service Unit, where he was staffed on projects relating to state and local environmental policy. Sam graduated from the University of Georgia with a M.A. in Political Science and International Relations, a B.S. in Geography, and a B.A. in International Affairs.
Natalie Fiertz is a Programs Manager at the Fund for Peace (FFP), working primarily on FFP’s state fragility and resilience and its conflict early warning and response programs. She leads the annual production of the Fragile States Index and has provided strategic and analytical support on projects assessing state fragility and resilience for the African and Islamic Development Banks and the International Finance Corporation. She has also provided technical support and assessed the effectiveness of the ECOWAS Early Warning and Response Network and the PIND community early warning system in Nigeria’s Niger Delta. Natalie holds a Master’s in Public Policy from Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago and a B.A. from St. Mary’s College of Maryland. She was born in Zurich, Switzerland and grew up in Washington, DC and New Delhi, India.
Lauren Goodwillie is a graduate student at the London School of Economics & Political Science, where she is pursuing a Master’s in International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies, studying the converging risks posed by climate change and insufficient governance capacities. Prior to graduate school, Lauren worked as a policy analyst for the National Emergency Management Association supporting the emergency management directors of the 50 states, U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia. She also worked at the National Governors Association on their homeland security and public health emergency preparedness portfolio. Lauren has a B.A. in International Relations from Syracuse University.
Anuj Krishnamurthy is currently a student in the University of Pennsylvania’s master of computer and information technology program. He graduated from Brown in 2019 with concentrations in economics and international relations. He has previously held internships with the Wilson Center’s Environmental Change & Security Program and the Rhode Island Attorney General Office’s environmental advocacy unit.
Allison Maddux is a senior analyst with the Department of Defense focused on South Asia security issues. She spent the first four years of her 11-year analyst career analyzing the intersection of national security and water and food security issues, predominantly focused on the Middle East and North Africa. Over the course of her career, she has deployed twice to Afghanistan in support of NATO and U.S. forces, deployed with U.S. Special Operations Command to Africa, supported Embassy contingency operations in the Middle East and Europe, detailed to the advisory group for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as a subject matter expert on South Asia, and served as the briefer to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia in the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Policy. Allison received her M.A. in Security Studies from Georgetown University with a concentration in terrorism and substate violence, where she also was a fellow in the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy. She earned her B.S. in Earth Science from the University of California at Santa Barbara, where she earned Outstanding Achievement in Geography as well as Phi Beta Kappa honors. Allison is a National Champion Ultimate Frisbee player, representing the United States on Team USA in 2017, and coached DC’s inaugural semi-professional womxn’s ultimate team in 2020-2021.
Keith McCammon is a climate security analyst supporting senior policymakers at the National Security Council and Office of the Director of National Intelligence. He previously worked on the US campaign against ISIS and led paratroopers in the 82nd Airborne Division. Keith has a Masters in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School, where he was a Presidential scholar and Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.
Aaron Ng serves as a Program Analyst at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). In this role, he manages projects under the Energy Transitions Initiative (ETI), which aims to advance self-reliant communities through the development of resilient energy systems. These efforts include the Energy Transitions Initiative Partnership Project, a program that applies ETI’s many tools, resources, and methods to help communities across the United States. Aaron also leads the Department’s long-term energy sector recovery efforts in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Aaron was previously an ORISE Science, Technology, and Policy Fellow in DOE’s Weatherization and Intergovernmental Programs Office, where he managed the development of the State and Local Planning for Energy (SLOPE) Platform. Prior to DOE, Aaron served as a Speechwriter and Legislative Aide for a U.S. Senator. Aaron holds a M.A. in International Economics and Energy, Resources, and Environmental Policy from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and a B.S. in Psychology and History from the College of William & Mary.
Sohum Pawar serves as the lead policy advisor on climate/energy, cyber, and homeland security for U.S. Representative Elissa Slotkin of Michigan. His interests lie in helping build resilience against climate and cyber threats to the U.S energy system. Prior to joining the U.S. House of Representatives as a Congressional Innovation Scholar, he was an MIT researcher studying resilient decarbonization of electric systems in the face of climate-driven extreme weather, the economic impacts of the energy transition, and critical infrastructure cybersecurity. Sohum previously worked on climate/energy and cyber policy at the White House, assisted UN climate negotiators at the U.S. Department of State, and wrote speeches for the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Outside government, he’s worked in cyber threat intelligence, climate-focused venture capital, and at an advanced nuclear reactor startup. He also helped produce NPR’s Radiolab and conducted research for The Perfect Weapon, a bestselling book chronicling the rise of cyber warfare. Sohum received an M.S. in Technology and Policy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and an A.B. from Harvard University in Environmental Science and Public Policy, and Engineering Sciences.
Sagatom Saha is a special advisor on clean energy, innovation, and competitiveness in the Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate. Previously, he worked in the Office of Energy and Environmental Industries at the International Trade Administration, served as a Fulbright researcher in Kyiv advising Ukrainian lawmakers on energy reform, and helped direct the Council on Foreign Relations’ Program on Energy Security and Climate Change. Before joining government, Sagatom published more than 50 op-eds and policy papers on clean energy and climate in publications including Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Axios, Scientific American, and Fortune, among others. He holds a master’s from the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs and a bachelor’s from American University.
Lucy Stevenson-Yang is the Program Assistant for the China and North Korea teams at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP). At USIP, Lucy’s research examines China’s impact on peace and security internationally, including in its climate-related engagements. Her work also focuses on how to strengthen diplomacy and support peace and security on the Korean Peninsula. Previously, Lucy was a Research Analyst with USIP’s Asia Center, where she supported research projects on topics ranging from Afghanistan’s peace process to China’s impact on conflict dynamics in the Red Sea. In 2020, she was a U.S.-R.O.K. Next Generation Leader in the Security Delegation with the National Bureau of Asian Research. Before joining USIP, Lucy had an internship at Amnesty International with the Individuals at Risk team, where she worked with at-risk political prisoners and activists. She was born and raised in Beijing, China.
Katelin Wright has worked within the Homeland Security Enterprise for over a decade, specifically at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). In her current position, she serves as the Senior Immigration Services Officer at the Albuquerque USCIS Field Office. During her time with the agency, she has adjudicated a multitude of immigration cases, collaborated with other federal, state, and local governmental agencies, developed and implemented numerous training initiatives, ran emergency management events, and led program enhancement projects. In September 2020, Katelin graduated with her Master of Arts in Security Studies from the Center for Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS) at the Naval Postgraduate School. Her novel research in climate change-induced migration received the CHDS Outstanding Thesis Award. After graduation, she presented her thesis findings at the CHDS Alumni Professional Exchange. She has since continued to pursue her academic inquiry by giving presentations to students participating in both the CHDS Emergence Program and the CHDS Master’s Program. Her current research is focused on the risks, surprises, and unexpected opportunities climate change might have on the future of U.S. security.
Celeste Zumwalt is an incoming Sea Grant John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellow. She holds an MPA in Environmental Science and Policy from Columbia SIPA as well as a B.A. in History from Wellesley College. Most recently, she was an intern at the White House Council on Environmental Quality where she supported the Federal Sustainability team. In addition, she has worked with the NAACP’s Environmental and Climate Justice Program, the Earth Institute, and at Accenture as a management consultant. Celeste is a member of WCAPS, the Explorer’s Club, and holds a Black Belt in Taekwondo.
The French Institute for International and Strategic Affairs (IRIS) and the Center for Climate and Security (CCS) with the support of the US Embassy in France, are pleased to invite you to the webconference Ticking Clock: The Intersection of Climate and Security, on 14 September 2021, 6:30 PM CEST/12:30 PM ET.
Introductory Remarks: Elizabeth Martin-Shukrun, Cultural Advisor at the US Embassy in France
Adrien Esteve, Postdoctoral Researcher at Sciences Po, Center for International Studies (CERI)
Kate Guy, Senior Research Fellow at CCS & Deputy Director of the International Military Council on Climate and Security
Erin Sikorsky, Director of CCS & International Military Council on Climate and Security
Julia Tasse, Head of the Climate and Energy Program at IRIS
Chair: Sofia Kabbej, Research Fellow on Climate, Security & Geoengineering at IRIS
New scientific consensus released today details the potential future course of climate change, with serious repercussions for international security and stability. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the first product of its Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), summarizing the latest scientific understanding on the state of global climate change. This report, completed by the IPCC Working Group I (WGI), offers the best collective picture of how human caused climate change is impacting the physical systems of the planet now and in the future.
The report makes clear that our planet’s climatic systems are changing rapidly in response to the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. By 2100, global average temperatures are expected to rise between 2.1-3.5°C in an intermediate scenario, or 3.3-5.7°C in a high emissions scenario, if humans do not curb and continue expanding greenhouse gas emitting activities. The path to keeping global temperatures to just 1.5°C of warming, the report states, looks increasingly narrow; while every additional fraction of a degree in planetary warming will have worsening impacts on climate stability.
The findings of the WGI report have two important implications for security audiences: First, cutting emissions and adapting to climate impacts are equally important for security in the coming years; second, that the increasing risk of crossing climate tipping points suggests security services must prepare for managing multiple climate-induced crises at once.(more…)