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On the Verge: Climate, Migration, and Security in Central America

Click here to read about and listen to the latest episode of the Council on Strategic Risks’ “On the Verge” podcast, “Climate, Migration, and Security in Central America.” Hosted by Andrea Rezzonico.

BRIEFER – Taking Stock: Integrating Climate Change into U.S. National Security Practices in 2022

By Erin Sikorsky and Brigitte Hugh

In late 2021, the Biden Administration released a suite of national security and foreign policy documents[1] that according to the administration, would “serve as a foundation for [its] critical work on climate and security moving forward.”[2] This briefer synthesizes four key takeaways of these reports: 1) Climate change is forcing the U.S. national security community to reexamine its assumptions about how the world works; 2) Climate security is a current problem and a future problem; 3) Climate security risks are wide-ranging and not confined to particular geographies or sectors; 4) Climate security cannot be separated from other major security concerns—in fact, it shapes and exacerbates those concerns.

If 2021 was about analyzing the problem and making the case that climate change is a national security concern, then 2022 should be about making concrete changes to how US agencies do business so they are equipped to address climate security challenges going forward. To that end, we recommend that the U.S. government pursue five priorities: 1) Mainstream climate security in regional strategies; 2) Link climate adaptation programs with conflict prevention; 3) Maximize whole-of-government approaches to linking climate science and national security; 4) Increase climate security support for allies and partners; 5) Leverage strategic foresight tools to prepare for climate security risks – including worst case scenarios.

Read the full briefer here.


[1] These documents included: (1) National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Climate Change from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI); (2) Department of Defense (DoD) Climate Risk Analysis (DCRA); (3) Strategic Framework to Address Climate Change for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) ; (4) Report on the Impact of Climate Change on Migration, the first such report released by the United States Government; (5) The Department of Defense Climate Adaptation Plan.

[2] “Fact Sheet: Prioritizing Climate in Foreign Policy and National Security,” The White House, October 21, 2021.

Introducing Elsa Barron and Brigitte Hugh, Newest Members of the Climate and Security Team

The Center for Climate and Security (CCS) is growing, and we’re excited to announce the newest additions to our team—program assistants Elsa Barron and Brigitte Hugh. As we enter a new year with lots to cover on climate and security, we wanted to start with a few introductions.

CCS: Where are you from?

Elsa Barron (EB): Wheaton, IL, just west of Chicago. Home of the 11,000-year-old Perry Mastodon.

Brigitte Hugh (BH): Layton, UT, which lies just north of Salt Lake City. We do not have a Mastodon, but there are some great mountains. 

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Dan Chiu, Ellen Laipson, Maureen Sullivan, and Amali Tower Join the Center for Climate and Security Advisory Board

By Brigitte Hugh

The Center for Climate and Security is pleased and honored to announce that Dr. Daniel Y. Chiu, Ellen Laipson, Maureen Sullivan and Amali Tower have joined its distinguished Advisory Board of military and national security leaders. This group supports CCS leadership by providing substantive and strategic guidance as needed. 

Dr. Daniel Y. Chiu is the Director of the Joint Advanced Warfighting Division at the Institute for Defense Analyses, a Federally Funded Research and Development Center. He leads a diverse team of military, technical, and analytic experts to support the US Department of Defense in concept and capability development through Joint Experimentation and Defense Innovation. Working primarily with the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Staff, his team focuses on analytic wargaming, dynamic red-teaming, and broad-spectrum horizon scanning as well as technical and historic lessons-learned. Read Dr. Chiu’s full bio here

Ellen Laipson is the Director of the International Security program and directs the Center for Security Policy Studies at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University. She joined GMU in 2017 after a distinguished 25 year career in government and as President and CEO of the Stimson Center (2002-2015). Her last post in government was Vice Chair of the National Intelligence Council (1997-2002). She also served on the State Department’s policy planning staff, the National Security Council staff, and worked at the Congressional Research Service for more than a decade. Read Ms. Laipson’s full bio here

Maureen Sullivan is the former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Environment). For 29 years, Ms. Sullivan served in various leadership positions as a member of the Office of the Secretary of Defense environmental staff. During her service, she was responsible for DoD’s policies and programs related to compliance with environmental laws; management of natural and cultural resources; cleanup of contaminated sites; fire and emergency services; green/sustainable buildings; installation emergency management; international environmental policy; and planning to address emerging chemicals of concern. Ms. Sullivan retired in 2020 after over 40 years of service in the Department of Defense. Read Ms. Sullivan’s full bio here

Amali Tower is the founder and executive director of Climate Refugees. She has extensive global experience in refugee protection, refugee resettlement, and in forced migration and displacement contexts, having worked for numerous NGOs, the UN Refugee Agency, and the US Refugee Admissions Program. She has conducted country and regional visits of case studies and research in climate-induced displacement contexts, including in urban and camp settings. Read Ms. Tower’s full bio here.

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