Rising temperatures and extreme weather events such as recurrent droughts and floods undermine livelihoods, displace populations and increase food insecurity, competition for natural resources as well as communal tensions. It is no longer possible to tackle conflicts and violence separately from the impacts of climate change. At the same time, in many affected contexts, climate action can significantly contribute to adequate preparedness and, in turn, to conflict prevention and sustainable peace.
The prevention, transformation and resolution of conflicts are challenged by emerging risks to peace stemming from climate change. This means that integrating climate risk considerations into peacebuilding programmes can help prevent and manage crises, advance peace processes and obtain sustainable results. Theses linkages have notably been acknowledged in the UN Secretary General’s New Agenda For Peace, which identifies 9 actions areas on prevention and calls for recognizing climate, peace and security as a political priority.
In this regard, the UN and other relevant actors should further support national governments in strengthening preparedness and in becoming more efficient in responding to climate risks. In particular, early warning systems to predict hazardous weather, water or climate events can contribute to conflict prevention when combining effective climatic data with socio-economic data. Scaling up such mechanisms in order to make best use of climate data to inform policy has a particular untapped potential when affected regions are already the focus of humanitarian or peacebuilding efforts.
Furthermore, sustainable natural resource management becomes even more important in conflict settings, and can help to preserve livelihoods, reduce fragility and prevent the consequences of climate change from leading to violence. Climate change adaptation measures can, in turn, have positive effects on peacebuilding. For instance, tackling climate-related issues in community dialogues can help identify preventive measures, and build trust. Greater community resilience against climate change also lowers the risk of tensions and conflict.
Building on evidence from the field, this panel will draw lessons from the interplay between climate change and other conflict drivers and discuss how the UN and individual States could adapt their peacebuilding efforts to the increasing impact of climate change. It will map out avenues to promote a coherent approach at the multilateral level as well as in bilateral cooperation in order to make best use of climate data to inform peacebuilding policy. It will also highlight the contribution of Geneva-based expertise and look at how to make better use of the complementarities between different multilateral processes and institutions, as well as between these and bilateral peacebuilding efforts.