The Center for Climate & Security

CCS Input on the First National Nature Assessment

By Michael R. Zarfos

This month, the Center for Climate and Security (CCS) and its Ecological Security Program (ESP) had the opportunity to comment on the Draft Prospectus for the First National Nature Assessment (NNA1) prepared by the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), and is publishing its input here. The NNA1 will be completed in 2026 and will consider the state, direction, and probable future of U.S. lands, waters, wildlife, biodiversity, and ecosystems. It will identify the benefits these sources provide to society, and the risks associated with their deterioration or loss. In accomplishing these tasks, the NNA1 will quantify and characterize the state of the ecological security of the United States and its future outlook. While the United States has published a National Climate Assessment since 2000, NNA1 will be an important step in systematically assessing broader ecological security assets and risks.  

CCS broadly supports the themes and framework proposed in the draft prospectus. The themes (conservation and natural resource management, economic interests, human health and well-being, safety and security) and cross cutting areas woven throughout them (climate change, equity) all intersect with the national security of the United States and, in particular, climate and ecological security. The framework is designed to consider information from a variety of sources ranging from the peer-reviewed literature to the experiences and perspectives of local communities. This breadth, diversity, and specificity of information should make the NNA1 useful to many consumers. Furthermore, the communication of NNA1’s findings will be enhanced by additional products designed to supplement the primary report, including special peer-reviewed journals and videos relating how a diversity of communities value nature.   

While all four themes identified in the Draft Prospectus intersect with security issues, the “Safety and Security” theme is most directly relevant to CCS and ESP. In addressing this theme, NNA1 would focus on the following questions (paraphrased):

  • Question 1: What losses from natural and environmental hazards have been averted by nature (e.g., protected areas, green and blue infrastructure, restored areas) over time, and for whom? Where and how much can nature-based solutions equitably reduce future risk from these hazards?
  • Question 2: How have trends and spatial patterns in nature affected food and water security? What are opportunities for nature-based solutions to avert these emerging risks?
  • Question 3: Where might changes in nature and climate cause people within the US to migrate, and where might they go? What nature- or natural resource-related risks and opportunities are they likely to face in these new locations?

CCS comments on the theme of Safety and Security and its proposed questions:

Generally, CCS suggested that geographic coverage of the NNA1 be expanded beyond the United States and its territories to include ecosystems in close proximity to US diplomatic, scientific, and military installations and shared infrastructure abroad. Proximate ecosystems likely provide services to these installations and the communities that support them. Ecosystem loss or degradation might undermine community and installation resilience to threats such as climate change and natural disasters, undermining US national security, global operations, and deterrence. 

CCS provided the following input on each of the thematic questions:

  • Question 1: In addition to constructed, protected, or restored nature, USGCRP should also consider unprotected, but extant nature (e.g., privately owned forests or grasslands) and anthropogenic ecosystems (e.g., crop monocultures, urban vegetation) as a source of potential hazard aversion. For example, in New England, about 80% of forests are privately owned, most are not protected through any legal instrument, and many of these forests regenerated naturally, rather than being actively restored. Anthropogenic ecosystems also provide services (e.g., water infiltration, thermal regulation), even if these are reduced. 
  • Questions 1 & 2: When evaluating the potential for nature-based solutions to mitigate natural hazards and food and water insecurity, CCS recommends that USGCRP present example benefit-cost analyses that compare nature-based solutions with synthetic solutions (e.g., conserving a wetland and riparian buffers vs. constructing a waste treatment plant). Such analyses could include a comparison of different methods for valuing ecosystem services. These comparisons should help policymakers weigh the potential benefits of retaining ecosystems rather than relying on technology to replace services once they have been destroyed. 
  • Question 2: CCS recommends that USGCRP’s assessment of changes in nature which could impact food and water security include trends in environmental pollution and in biotic eruptions (e.g., introduced non-native invasive species and pests, algal blooms) that may impact both anthropogenic and natural ecosystems. Atmospheric deposition of pollutants such as nitrogen, sulfur, and mercury is often transboundary, challenging regulation. Compounding biotic eruptions may have a significant impact on water quality and food production which is not evident when considering these eruptions in isolation. 
  • Question 2: USGCRP should consider broadening its analysis to consider the impacts of changes in nature abroad on US food and water security. To the extent that the United States imports food and shares water resources with other countries, its security may be impacted by changes in nature that interrupt global supply chains or undermine food production or aquatic ecosystems abroad. 
  • Question 3: In addition to considering where changes in nature and climate might lead to human migration (both from and to), consider exploring how this migration might impact nature and its associated benefits and risks in some of the probable receiving locations (i.e., cascading impacts and feedback loops). If mismanaged, the necessary expansion of services, housing, and infrastructure could eliminate important ecosystem services while leaving migrants vulnerable to future natural disasters (e.g., building in future flood plains and on existing wetlands).  


The First National Nature Assessment is an important step in America’s growing effort to quantify the state, trajectory, and benefits of our nature. The inclusion of climate and ecological security considerations in this assessment is vital for national security and is complementary with its other themes (conservation and natural resource management, economic interests, human health and well-being) and cross-cutting areas (climate change, equity).

Addressing the Interplay of Climate Change, Food and National Security: Event Summary

A CCS Report by Patricia Parera
Edited by Brigitte Hugh, Erin Sikorsky, and Francesco Femia


This event report is the first of a new initiative by the Center for Climate and Security (CCS) dedicated to shining a light on the U.S. national security benefits of addressing climate change, food insecurity, and stability together. The Feeding Resilience: Climate Change and Food Insecurity Impacts on U.S. National Security Project (Feeding Resilience) is framed by the twin premises that international stability is foundational to U.S. national security and that food security is foundational to international stability. Thus, efforts to bolster the integrity of regional and global food systems can be viewed through a security lens, which is especially true in an era of accelerating climate change, instability and conflict.

This report presents the key takeaways of the first policy discussion, Feeding Resilience: Addressing the Interplay of Climate Change, Food and National Security, held in Washington, DC and virtually on 12 June, 2023, in a series of roundtables that CCS is organizing to engage with climate, security, development, humanitarian, and food security policymakers, practitioners, and academics. The purpose of the roundtables is to share experiences about the nexus of climate change, food insecurity, instability and national security in an effort to identify policy gaps and elicit recommendations and best practices that will serve as a foundation for the CCS’s Feeding Resilience project.

To ground these discussions, the roundtables use concrete case studies focused on the nexus of food, climate, and security in specific countries to help understand and document the different issues, approaches, and advances within these sectors and the relevant communities of practice. The roundtables will be one of a number of inputs for a policy report and actionable recommendations to be presented to policymakers in 2024.

The objective of the June 2023 roundtable was to increase connections among policymakers, the private sector, thought leaders, and civil society, and seek to identify holistic and feasible opportunities to increase investment in global climate adaptation, resilience practices, and food systems innovations as a security imperative. The discussion included Ethiopia as a case study to illustrate these themes.

Participants representing multilateral development banks (MDBs), technical agencies of the United Nations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), United States government agencies and the Center for Climate and Security (CCS) team took part in the half-day event. The roundtable was held under “Chatham House Rule.”1 The list of participants, agenda, and presentations are available at

The agenda included a set of questions2 shared with the roundtable participants to focus the discussion on specific challenges and opportunities. A moderator led the discussion based on questions suggested in the agenda (see Annex 1). Below is a summary of key takeaways from the policy discussion.


We’re Hiring: Research Fellows, Center for Climate and Security

The Council on Strategic Risks (CSR) seeks to hire two team members for its Center for Climate and Security: Research Fellow (Nexus25 Project) and Research Fellow (General).

Research Fellow (Nexus25 Project)

The person filling this role will primarily support CCS collaboration with Nexus25 project partners ( This is an effort to move forward an agenda for the renewal of multilateralism in the face of the multidimensional and transnational challenges of our times intertwining climate change, food security, and human mobility. These issues are analyzed and discussed from a transatlantic perspective with key partners in emerging countries in Africa and South Asia with the goal of a strategic reorientation of multilateral partnerships within a global context. 

The Research Fellow will work closely with Nexus25 personnel in Europe and the United States. 

Duties will include: 

  • Conducting relevant research and analysis related to the project as appropriate;
  • Contributing to the production of written and audiovisual outputs of the project;
  • Helping facilitate coordination among Nexus25 partners, the Istituto Affari Internazionale (IAI) and the Center for Climate and Security;
  • Tracking developments and contacts with the relevant stakeholders from multilateral bodies and fora, such as the UN, World Bank, IMF, G7, G20;
  • Helping identify potential Nexus25 partners with specific thematic or regional expertise;
  • Providing logistic and organizing support for high-level events in Washington DC and in Europe;
  • Helping advance CSR’s diversity and inclusivity goals;
  • Taking on other related responsibilities that may be requested from time to time.

The ideal candidate will have:

  • A master’s degree in a relevant field or equivalent work experience
  • Familiarity with transnational challenges and trends, such as food security, climate change, human mobility and security and/or familiarity with multilateral institutions including the EU
  • A passion for addressing food security and climate security risks and knowledge in this field
  • Strong writing, communication, and interpersonal skills
  • A desire to work in multidisciplinary, silo-busting environments
  • Comfort with a largely remote work environment
  • A demonstrated commitment to diversity and inclusion
  • Location in Washington, DC, with a willingness to travel 

To apply to this position, please use the button below. CSR will evaluate applications on a rolling basis until the application deadline of September 8.

Research Fellow (General), Center for Climate and Security

This is an entry-level position focused on addressing climate security risks and solutions. The person in this role will work closely with the CCS Director and Deputy Director and other members of the CCS team. 

The person filling this role will:

  • Support the management and implementation of a range of CCS projects, including those related to the intersection of climate change, food security, conflict, humanitarian response, and stability. This support will include duties such as:
    • Assist with substantive research and analytic writing such as blog posts, briefers and reports related to the projects
    • Assist in conceptualizing, organizing and implementing public and private events, including multi-day workshops and U.S. and/or international trips
    • Help manage communications and outreach to key project stakeholders and policy contacts
    • Track policy trends relevant to the projects; for example by monitoring specific legislation and Executive Branch budget trends and policies
  • Provide general administrative support, for example assisting in scheduling meetings and events
  • Help to advance CSR’s diversity and inclusion goals
  • Take on other responsibilities that may be requested from time to time

The ideal candidate will have:

  • A college degree in a relevant field 
  • Familiarity with international security issues and trends 
  • A passion for advancing climate security policy and knowledge in this field
  • Strong writing, communication, and interpersonal skills (foreign language or data analysis skills a plus, but not required)
  • Strong project management skills or enthusiasm for developing them
  • A desire to work in multidisciplinary, silo-busting environments
  • Comfort with a largely remote work environment
  • Demonstrated commitment to diversity and inclusion
  • Location in Washington, DC is strongly desired

To apply to this position, please use the button below. CSR will evaluate applications on a rolling basis until the application deadline of September 8.

For both positions:

CSR seeks candidates with the vision and potential needed to become a true leader in national and international security. 

CSR has a highly flexible work environment. Outside of specific meetings and events, remote working is our norm. CSR will help the right candidate develop or expand skills required for success in this position and expects there will be opportunities for future growth.  CSR’s pay band for candidates hired at the Research Fellow level will be $70,000-$78,000, based on the qualifications and experience levels of the applicants. CSR’s current benefits include health insurance with employer coverage of 70% of premium costs and a range of plan options; a 403(b) retirement plan for which CSR matches employee contributions dollar for dollar up to 6% of their salary, with no vesting delay; and 21 full days of leave and 3 sick days, in addition to observing all U.S. federal holidays. 

Applications for both positions are due September 8. 

CSR is an equal opportunity employer. We will not discriminate and will take affirmative action measures to ensure against discrimination in employment, recruitment, advertisements for employment, compensation, termination, upgrading, promotions, and other conditions of employment against any employee or job applicant on the bases of race, color, sex, pregnancy, national origin, age, religion, creed, disability, veteran’s status, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, political affiliation, matriculation status, genetic disposition or carrier status, or any other category protected under applicable federal, state or local law.

A First Look at Typhoon Doksuri: China’s Climate Security Vulnerabilities

By Erin Sikorsky

Last year, the Center for Climate and Security released China’s Climate Security Vulnerabilities, a report that outlined the ways in which climate hazards may shape the country’s stability and security going forward. The extreme weather events in China during the past few months provide a case study of the key dynamics identified in the paper, including risks to Chinese food security and domestic stability, as well as the role of the military in responding to such hazards. One event in particular, Typhoon Doksuri’s landfall in Fujian Province and the subsequent flooding it caused as it traveled north, illustrated such vulnerabilities with immediate and heavy impact. But the crisis caused by Doksuri provides an opening for the United States to engage with the Chinese government on climate and food security issues, as well. 

Beginning in late July, Typhoon Doksuri and its remnants brought torrential rains which flooded the Chinese capital Beijing and other areas in the northeast. By one measure, the amount of rain that fell in a 5 day period in the Beijing region–29.3 inches–was the “most ever recorded since recordkeeping began during the Qing dynasty in 1883.” The water displaced millions and destroyed thousands of homes and hectares of farmland. Thousands of troops from the Chinese People’s Armed Police (PAP) and People’s Liberation Army (PLA) have deployed in response, providing rescue and evacuation assistance, distributing emergency supplies, and conducting a range of other activities. 


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