Essential Reading

Session 2: Assessing the Risks of Climate Change and Promoting Regional Cooperation for Peace in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific

Climate Change in an EU Security Context: The Role of the European External Action Service

June 2016, Hannes Sonnsjö & Niklas Bremberg, Stockholm University

The main goal of the project was to assist and inform policy making on security risks posed by climate change, with the focus on two specific areas: How policy organisations such as development and defence actors frame and integrate climate security risks in their work; and how and under what circumstances climate change increases the risk of violent conflict.

Facing an Unpredictable Threat: Is NATO Ideally Placed to Manage Climate Change as a Non-Traditional Threat Multiplier?

Amar Causevic, Connections QJ, 16, no.2 (2017): 59-80

This paper examines NATO’s perception of climate change as a non-traditional threat multiplier and analyzes how different schools of international relations theory define climate change and address this security concern. In addition, the article provides insights into how climate change-induced threats affect the socio-economic and political security of nation states and what that means for NATO adding that the Alliance will have to do more to integrate these concerns because current efforts are not sufficient to meet future security challenges stimulated by increase in the average global temperature.

The paper concludes that NATO has recognised the importance of climate change as a security threat, but that NATO’s organizational mechanisms and divisions that are responsible for coping with climate change impacts are still evolving. This process faces new challenges, especially after the election of the U.S. President Donald Trump, who is highly skeptical regarding the issue of climate change. One must note, however, that in March 2017 U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis stated that climate change is already impacting operations of the U.S. armed forces and that combatant commands should incorporate these risks into their planning.

 Related Article:

NATO and Climate Change: The Need for a More Coherent Approach

13 October 2017, Amar Causevic for The EastWest Institute, Stratfor Worldview

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has not been immune to the threats posed by climate change. This issue is extremely important for the Alliance because it is directly linked to NATO's operational capacity and response to security challenges emanating from the environment (e.g., preparing for and responding to natural disasters, adapting military assets to a hostile physical environment, addressing negative impacts of climate change such as climate migrants, etc.). Responsibly, the Alliance has already developed policies, frameworks and designated units re­sponsible for addressing climate change as a non-traditional security threat. More precisely, NATO is currently trying to incorporate geostrategic implications of climate-related threats into its deliberate planning, contingency planning and crisis action planning processes. Nevertheless, the pressing question remains: To what extent is NATO capable of managing climate change as a non-traditional threat multi­plier?

United we stand: Reforming the United Nations to reduce climate risk

6 July 2016, Camilla Born & Nick Mabey, E3G 

By the end of 2015, the global consensus for acting on climate change had transformed. The 2015 mandate has implications for each and every UN institution, country, sector and community. 

Today, climate risk threatens the very operating mission of the United Nations. Climate risk is an existential threat to maintaining peace, rights and security. Peacebuilding efforts unravel where communities compete for access to climate stressed food and water supply. People migrate from resource depressed climates in search of stability and challenge the UN’s ability to deliver humanitarian aid at scale. And amidst multiple crises, the capacity to prioritise fundamental pillars of UN governance such as human rights and international law is thinly spread.

7 March 2017, Taylor Dimsdale, E3G & Gerald Stang, European Union Institute for Security Studies
Orignally published by Planetary Security Initiative
What does a warmer world mean for European security? This policy brief first provides an overview of some key challenges facing European policy makers as they seek to take action against climate risks. It then analyses some of the programmes and mechanisms already in place across the Union. Finally, it sets out some practical recommendations on how European institutions can respond to the global security risks of a changing climate.


The challenges Africa faces resulting from climate change are growing and interconnected. And although Africa has contributed the least to climate change, accounting for only 3.8% compared to overall global greenhouse gas emissions, it is among the most vulnerable areas and is already suffering harsh consequences. The continent has experienced 2000 natural disasters since 1970, with almost half occurring in the past decade. With a population of 1.2 billion, and expected increases to 2.4 billion by 2050 (according to the UN), population growth is an extra stressor for the negative impacts of climate change.

Known as one of the most highly tourist-reliant regions in the world, the Caribbean Islands are faced with, (like other island nations), the ever-growing adverse effects of climate change. Inhabited by an estimated 39 million people, the Caribbean region is renowned for its rich marine, coastal ecosystems and biodiversity. Countries in this region include: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Aruba, Netherlands Antilles, Suriname, Guadeloupe Martinique, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands Montserrat, Turks and Caicos. In terms of climate change repercussions, the region is affected by increased quantity and intensity of hurricanes, high tides, droughts, floods, inconsistent rainfall patterns and heat waves.

Climate‐related security challenges are transnational in character, leading states to increasingly rely on intergovernmental organizations (IGOs)—such as the European Union and the North‐Atlantic Treaty Organization—for policy solutions. While climate security issues do not typically fit comfortably within the mandates of existing IGOs, recent decades have seen increasing efforts by IGOs to link climate change and security.
This article reviews existing studies on IGOs’ responses to climate security challenges. It draws together research from several bodies of literature spanning political science, international relations, and environmental social science, identifying an emerging field of research revolving around IGOs and climate security. We observe significant advancement in this young field, with scholars extending and enriching our understanding of how and why IGOs address climate security challenges.
Yet we still know little about the conditions under which IGOs respond to climate security challenges and when they do so effectively. This article discusses the main gaps in current work and makes some suggestions about how these gaps may be usefully addressed in future research. A better understanding of the conditions under which IGOs respond (effectively) to climate security challenges would contribute to broader debates on climate security, institutional change, and effectiveness in international relations and environmental social science, and may facilitate crafting effective global solutions to society's most intractable climate security challenges.
Located within the South-Eastern hemisphere, the Pacific Islands region (often referred to as the Pacific Small Island Developing States (SIDS)), is geographically vast, and made up of small islands including: Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Timor Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Maldives. Climatically speaking, it is the most vulnerable and disaster-prone area in the world; being subject to: cyclones, tsunamis, floods, flash floods, tidal surges, high tides, droughts, forest fires, volcanic eruptions, extreme heat waves, inconsistent rainfall patterns and epidemics as well as overall global sea level rises. Additionally, the region is confronted with accelerated negative impacts of climate change and faces increased environmental degradation.

Session 4: Enhancing the Role of International Organisations in Climate Diplomacy

2 May 2017, Ken Conca, Joe Thwaites, and Goueun Lee, Global Environmental Politics,  Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Although claims about climate/conflict links remain contested, concerns that climate change will affect peace and security have gained traction in academic, activist, and policy circles. One set of pressures for responsive action has centered on the UN Security Council, which has held several often-contentious debates on the topic. Whether the Council should address climate change is a highly politicized question, tied to controversies about the Council’s mandate, membership reform, and the appropriate division of labor in the UN system. Lost in this political debate has been a more fundamental question—what exactly could the Council do?
The article analyses six different proposals for what actions the UN Security Council could take on climate change.

Session 5: Enhancing the Role of the Security Community in Climate Diplomacy

Military Planning for the Climate Century

19 October 2017, Mark Nevitt, Just Security

 “Climate change has been described as the world’s greatest environmental threat. But it is also increasingly understood as a national security threat, that serves as both a “threat multiplier,” and “catalyst for conflict.” Plus, its national security effects are multidimensional, without geographic or spatial limitations. … In light of climate change’s sheer complexity, how should the world’s militaries begin to prepare for its national security threats?”