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CSR Announces New Staff, Internal Moves

Continued Capacity-building at CSR’s Core

Continuing a trajectory of rapid growth, the Council on Strategic Risks is pleased to announce a new round of hires across its programs and role changes for existing staff. 

The Center for Climate and Security (CCS) added expertise across its portfolios, bringing on Tom EllisonPatricia Parera, and Michael Zarfos to advance progress in addressing security threats posed by climate change, and to analyze growing ecological security risks. The Converging Risks Lab also welcomed Lily Boland as a new team member.   

Ellison joins CCS as Deputy Director after a decade of informing policymakers on the security and foreign policy implications of climate change as a Senior Analyst for the US government. Increasing leadership capacity, Ellison will drive strategy and program development to accelerate progress on the Center’s work at the nexus of foreign policy and climate security. 

Parera previously served as Associate Director for Partnerships and Global Initiatives at Virginia Tech where she also was a lecturer on sustainable development. At CCS, she will lead research at the intersection of climate change and food security as a Senior Fellow.  

Dr. Zarfos will be tackling complex, converging risks caused by ecological change as an Ecological Security Research Fellow. He is also a postdoctoral researcher with the Dovciak Lab at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY ESF), examining how human-induced environmental change impacts forest ecosystems.

CSR was also thrilled to bring on Lily Boland as a Strategic Foresight Fellow to develop security foresight tools and lead analysis of long-term consequences of nuclear weapons use for the Converging Risks Lab. Boland joins from the Sciences Po Paris School of International Affairs and the War Studies Department at King’s College London where she studied intelligence and international security. 

Internal Moves

Yong-Bee Lim, previously a Deputy Director and Fellow at the Nolan Center, has now transitioned to a new role as the Deputy Director of the Converging Risks Lab where he will address cross-cutting security issues. 

Andrea Rezzonico, previously the Deputy Director at the Converging Risks Lab, is now the Program Lead, Ecological Security at the Center for Climate and Security. 

REPORT RELEASE: The Nexus of Climate Change, Ecological Disruption, Stability, and Security

By Andrea Rezzonico

Last week, the Climate and Land Use Alliance launched Climate and Forests 2030, a program aimed at mobilizing finance at scale to help realize the potential of forests to mitigate climate change, benefit people, and protect biodiversity.

CSR contributed a report to this effort titled “The Nexus of Climate Change, Ecological Disruption, Stability, and Security,” which was authored by experts from each of CSR’s three institutes: The Center for Climate and Security, The Converging Risks Lab, and the Nolan Center. This work is a part of CSR’s greater mission to address these converging risks under its newly expanded Ecological Security Program, an initiative of the Converging Risks Lab.

The report examines how climate change and ecological degradation, particularly deforestation and poor land use practices, intersect to undermine security and create instability. It analyzes how this nexus affects security in four categories: the intra-state, inter-state, and non-state actor levels, as well as looking at Indigenous and vulnerable populations through a lens of justice and equity. It then offers concrete recommendations aimed at both managing existing risks and preventing catastrophic risks in the long term. 

Recommendations highlighted in the report include:


Why I’ve Joined the Council on Strategic Risks as Head of its Ecological Security Program

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By Dr. Rod Schoonover

We are in the midst of an ecological crisis. Biodiversity loss is quickening, ecosystems are collapsing, mass die-offs are rising, zoonotic spillovers are escalating, and populations of harmful organisms are booming. In a January 2021 article titled Underestimating the Challenges of Avoiding a Ghastly Future, 17 of the world’s leading ecologists argued “the scale of the threats to the biosphere and all of its lifeforms—including humanity—is in fact so great that it is difficult to grasp for even well-informed experts.”

Both connected to—and separate from—the climate emergency, ongoing ecological disruption has portentous implications for human, national, and global security. We should expect concomitant risks to political stability, social cohesion, human health, and economic stability.

Surprisingly sparse comprehensive analysis exists in this nascent field of ecological security, however.

That’s why I’m pleased to join the Council on Strategic Risks as head of the Ecological Security Program in the Converging Risks Lab.


RELEASE: Can Climate Change Increase the Risk of Nuclear Conflict?

The Council on Strategic Risks (CSR) Releases a Video Series Exploring the Complex Linkages Between Climate Change, Nuclear Energy, and Nuclear Weapons

Washington, D.C., October 28, 2020 —  A new video series from CSR’s Converging Risks Lab examines two of the gravest threats to global security today: nuclear detonation risks and climate change. One poses the potential for immediate catastrophe, the other, a perhaps slower but comparable destructive force. In the post-Cold War era, nuclear dangers and climate change present major existential risks to society, but their convergences are complex and require experts to navigate multiple silos of experience. Understanding the connections among climate and nuclear trends, and how they might interact with other security risks, is critical for national security and policy planners as well as the broader general public.

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