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Integrating Climate Change into the US Global Fragility Strategy: A New “Prologue”

By Erin Sikorsky

In early April, the Biden Administration released a “prologue” to the US Global Fragility Strategy, also known as the Strategy to Prevent Conflict and Promote Stability. The initial document was developed under the Trump Administration in response to requirements in the Global Fragility Act (GFA). Congress passed the GFA in 2019 with bipartisan support, the goal of which was to create a new approach to preventing conflict in fragile states by bringing a whole of government, silo-busting strategy to foreign assistance and diplomacy. This type of coordinated, multi-sectoral process is exactly what is needed to ensure climate considerations are well integrated into US foreign policy, and the prologue takes two important steps forward in this direction.

First, the new prologue explicitly discusses the role of climate change in shaping state fragility and risks of conflict – a glaring omission in the original strategy. The document states:


Climate Security Prominent in the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review

The crew of USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) loads boxes of food and water donated by USAID during humanitarian aid missions to Aceh, Sumatra, Indonesia. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 3rd Class Tyler J. Clements

The crew of USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) loads boxes of food and water donated by USAID during humanitarian aid missions to Aceh, Sumatra, Indonesia. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class Tyler J. Clements

This afternoon the State Department released the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, (QDDR), a document outlining the strengths and gaps in our diplomacy and development efforts. The QDDR lists four strategic priorities. “Mitigating and adapting to climate change” is one of these priorities, along with “preventing and mitigating conflict and violent extremism,” “promoting resilient, open, democratic societies,” and “advancing inclusive economic growth.” As Secretary Kerry noted in the launch of the QDDR: “Each of these priorities is related to the need to provide better governance across the globe. They are all linked. “ (more…)

State Department Policy Directive: Climate Change, National Security and Conflict

Secretaries_Kerry_and_Lew,_Chinese_State_Councilor_Yang,_and_Chinese_Vice_Premier_Wang_Participate_in_the_Joint_Session_onOn March 7, Secretary Kerry issued a policy directive to the Department of State calling on the need to integrate considerations of climate change into everything the department does. While the directive itself has not yet been publicly released, the State Department blog highlighted six priority areas. Of particular note to those interested in the nexus of climate change and security is item number seven:

VII. Integrate climate change with other priorities: Better integrating climate solutions into cross-cutting challenges, including women’s empowerment, urbanization, conflict and national security, and our own management and operations.

In context of the climate-security considerations in the recently-released Quadrennial Defense Review, it seems that the Department of State and the Department of Defense are on the same page. That’s a very good sign.

Read the full announcement here.

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