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By Elsa Barron
On Earth Day 2022, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) released a new Climate Strategy for application between 2022 and 2030. The whole-of-agency approach created by this strategy is one that USAID calls “unprecedented” and necessary to realize a “vision of a resilient, prosperous, and equitable world with net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.”
USAID can apply its strengths–which it defines as its global presence, longevity of work, breadth of expertise, and convening power–to build climate resilience and prevent climate-induced insecurity. USAID’s investments in achieving its Climate Strategy are not a tradeoff with its existing development work. Rather, the strategy provides opportunities to deepen existing agency programs and equip its community partners to face some of the largest challenges to development, peace, and security in the decades ahead.(more…)
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:(more…)
“Climate change is an increasingly destabilizing force—an accelerating destabilization force—and it’s impacting our operational environment, it’s creating new missions, and our allies and partners are going to be called to respond to these increased demands,” said Brigadier General Rebecca Sonkiss, Deputy Director for Counter Threats and International Cooperation at the Joint Staff (J5), at a recent event hosted by the Wilson Center and the Center for Climate and Security. At the event, senior U.S. Government officials reflected on the significance of the Biden administration’s new climate security reports and how climate security is being prioritized and coordinated across defense and development, providing insight into the administration’s whole-of-government approach.(more…)
The Department of Defense has been incorporating climate change into its strategic policy documents for more than 10 years (e.g., here, here, and here). Despite White House pressure to the contrary, it currently is expanding how it addresses climate change to address Congressional requirements contained in recent National Defense Authorization Acts (here). Less visible, but no less important are other federal agencies that are focused on foreign assistance which could complement DoD’s security cooperation/assistance efforts (here). The Congressional Research Service (2020) released a short report on four foreign assistance agencies–U.S. Agency for International Development(USAID), the Peace Corps, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation(DFC)–and if their current planning efforts are reducing climate change risk to their own operations and programs. The result is that these current planning efforts fall far short of comprehensively addressing climate change risk, especially when compared to the more robust efforts under the last administration.(more…)