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Europe’s Responsibility to Prepare: Managing Climate Security Risks in a Changing World

Europes Responsibility to Prepare_Cover ImageEurope’s Responsibility to Prepare: Managing Climate Security Risks in a Changing World

The European Union (EU) has recognized the high-probability, high impact threat climate change poses to international security, but is still formulating a response commensurate to the threat. In this new report from the Center for Climate and Security, in partnership with the Clingendael Institute and in support of the Planetary Security Initiative,  the authors argue that the security threats of climate change should be more routinely integrated into EU institutions at a senior level and be elevated alongside other ‘traditional’ security issues like terrorism and nuclear threats. As the EU’s conflict prevention mechanisms are making progress in better-addressing climate risks, the report gives detailed recommendations on what a response scaled to the threat of climate change across EU bodies could look like. The report was released in advance of a critical climate and security meeting of European Union (EU) security leaders on June 22, led by Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

Key points of the report include:

  • The European political and security community has a ‘Responsibility to Prepare’ for climate-related threats.
  • The EU must be more proactive in making diplomatic and development interventions in crisis regions affected by climate change and security risks.
  • The EU’s current conflict early warning and rapid response systems risk becoming inadequate unless they plan better for the impacts of climate change.


The EU faces unprecedented risks, including those from climate change, but also has unprecedented foresight capabilities. Together these create a Responsibility to Prepare.

The ‘Responsibility to Prepare’ framework was first debuted at the UN Security Council in December 2017 by the Center for Climate and Security, and the new report details concrete recommendations for adapting EU policy and financial instruments to manage risks in a climate-affected security environment.

Click here for the full report.

Quotes from the authors:

Europe is already dealing with security issues and political challenges made worse by climate change, for example around migration, as well as threats from climate- and conflict-affected regions like Syria. We know more security problems are on the way as climate change intensifies year by year. Fortunately, we are able to foresee these threats more clearly than ever before, which gives the EU an opportunity – and a responsibility – to prepare for the security risks of climate change, and preserve stability both at home and abroad.” – Shiloh Fetzek, Senior Fellow for International Affairs, The Center for Climate and Security

 “The EU takes a leading role in reducing emissions, but this is unlikely to prevent climate impacts becoming more severe and multiplying security and migration pressures in the EU’s close vicinity. Therefore the EU now needs to incorporate in a meaningful way the climate-nexus in its joined up approach that combines foreign policy instruments in the field of defense, diplomacy and development.” Louise van Schaik, Head of Sustainability Research, the Clingendael Institute

Video Summary:

More Resources:

The Center for Climate and Security’s “Responsibility to Prepare” Page.

Briefer: A Responsibility To Prepare: Governing in an Age of Unprecedented Risk and Unprecedented Foresight

Briefing to the UN Security Council: “A Responsibility to Prepare,” December 15, 2017, Caitlin Werrell, The Center for Climate and Security: VideoPrepared remarksMeeting summary.

Planetary Security Initiative: Hague Declaration on Planetary Security


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