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In April 2022, the U.S. State Department released a Prologue to the 2020 United States Strategy to Prevent Conflict and Promote Stability, part of the Global Fragility Act of 2019. The prologue selected four countries and one region—including Papua New Guinea—as a geographic focus in developing a blueprint for promoting global peace and security.
Papua New Guinea (PNG) is at a pivotal moment in its development. Opportunities to modernize are clashing with traditional tribal strictures; foreign commercial and political actors are vying for favor and resources; and global geopolitical competition is buffeting regional relationships. Exacerbating all of these challenges is climate change.
This briefer by the Center for Climate and Security focuses on key PNG security risks, and the role of climate change in shaping security outcomes in the country. It highlights both risks and opportunities, and offers policymakers targeted recommendations to prevent instability and conflict in a complex, climate-stressed environment.
About the author
Rachel Fleishman is Nonresident Senior Research Fellow for the Asia-Pacific at the Center for Climate and Security, an institute of the Council on Strategic Risks.
If the United States is to “rebalance” to the Asia-Pacific region – building and broadening alliances, helping advance regional security and prosperity in the face of potentially catastrophic change, and advancing U.S. national security interests – it will have to seriously consider how climate change affects the region, how the U.S. can help advance the climate resilience of the region’s diverse nations, and how the U.S. will adapt strategically to a changed security environment. This new report, “The U.S. Asia- Pacific Rebalance, National Security and Climate Change,” published by the Center for Climate and Security, in partnership with the Carnegie Mellon University Civil and Environmental Engineering Program, the Center for New American Security and the University of Oxford, explores ways in which the effects of climate change will both shape, and be shaped by, the U.S. strategic rebalance to the Asia-Pacific. It also offers solutions for how the effects of climate change can be addressed in a strategic way, through implementing region-wide “Climate-Security Plans,” adapting military infrastructure, and supporting key nations that are grappling with climate risks to their food, water and energy security. The report’s foreword, written by former U.S. Pacific Commander, Admiral Samuel J. Locklear, III, USN (Ret), notes:
“As we seek to rebalance and reinvigorate our historic alliances, build new strategic and economic partnerships, and effectively posture our military in the Asia-Pacific for the 21st century, we must address the potentially catastrophic security implications of climate change in the Asia-Pacific and their likely impact on U.S. interests in the region.”
There is quite a bit of research on the opportunity to forge peace agreements in the wake of natural disasters. Geoff Dabelko, among others, is a leader in this space (see for example “Climate Change, Adaptation and Peacebuilding in Africa”). Could there be such an opportunity in a typhoon-torn Philippines?
The road to recovery in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda will be long, a fact recognized by the Philippine government that has declared a “state of national calamity.” But there is evidence to suggest that the recovery effort could help resolve conflict between separatists and the Filipino government, as well as tensions between the Philippines and China. (more…)
Yonhap News Agency recently reported the remarks of South Korea’s Second Vice Foreign Minister Cho Tae-yul regarding the security risks of climate change. The minister provided important commentary on both security risks, as well as the need for a more holistic partnership approach to tackling climatic risks in the Asia-Pacific region. The full article is worth reading and can be accessed here. The minister’s remarks were focused mostly on the Asia-Pacific region, but Cho Tae-yul has also spoken about the role of climatic factors in the Arctic, and expressed interest in Arctic Council membership for South Korea. (more…)