A1 – Climate induced Instability in MENA

The UN Security Council in its presidential statement S/PRST/2011/15 (2011) expressed its concern “…. that possible adverse effects of climate change may, in the long run, aggravate certain existing threats to international peace and security.” An upping of the ante in the position Security Council on climate change and its impacts on international stability and security was shown in UN Security Council Resolution 2349 (2017) on the Lake Chad Basin region. In item 26 of this resolution the Security Council “… Recognizes the adverse effects of climate change and ecological changes among other factors on the stability of the region, including through water scarcity, drought, desertification, land degradation, and food insecurity, and emphasizes the need for adequate risk assessments and risk management strategies by governments and the United Nations relating to these factors;”. UN Security Council Resolution 2048 in March 2018 also recognized “…the adverse effects of climate change, ecological changes and natural disasters among other factors on the stability of Somalia…” and recalled the 2011 presidential statement on the general adverse impact of climate change on stability and international security. In all these resolutions and the Security Council presidential statement, calls were made for international cooperation to counteract these negative impacts.

Paralleling and building on the UN Security Council statements and resolutions, the European Union has unequivocally indicated that climate change is not only about the environment but it is about security as evidenced by the speech "Climate, peace and security: the time for action" given by the High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini. Ms. Mogherini stated that the Sahel Region of Africa, the Horn of Africa, the Middle East amongst other regions of the world which have been experiencing tensions and conflicts have also been subject to rapid and slow onset of natural disasters ranging from floods to droughts to desertification. A clear message from Ms. Mogherini was that “…sustainable peace requires good jobs, decent access to natural resources, and sustainable development. Sustainable peace, sustainable security need climate action.

The UN Development Programme (UNDP), in a position presented to the EU parliament in 2018, stressed the need for transboundary and country led initiatives in the Middle East to scale up resilience to climate change and manage converging forces of climate risk, conflict and displacement. In this regard UNDP is developing capacities across the region to manage multi-dimensional risk and build resilience of development results. This builds on its role as the UNs largest provider of grant assistance for climate action globally and in the MENA region, and its support to establish regional and country platforms for joint UN action in crisis contexts, This dual – local and regional – approach mirrors findings by a Dutch government funded AUB-IFI led regional (Levant) dialogue on adaptation to climate change through the Water-Energy-Food nexus. This dialogue, launched at the Planetary Security Conference 2016 and conducted over two sessions in Amman and Beirut in the Fall of 2017, showed that even though there is a need and an inclination for cooperation and coordination at the regional level, the national (local) perspective still dominates.

The workshop would draw on the experiences of various organizations involved in overseeing and/or implementing a variety of environmental and climate related agreements such as the Paris Agreement and SDGs at various levels (international, regional, national) in the MENA to combat climate induced insecurity in the region and guide diplomacy to address the converging forces of climate change, conflict and displacement. This includes ways to synergize climate action with ongoing stabilization and crisis recovery initiatives across the region. Experiences at the national level and lessons learned would be used to inform dialogue on a regional and international level and would shed light on what has worked in the MENA and what has not vis-à-vis the implementation of multilateral environmental agreements (including aspects of the Paris Agreement and SDGs) and the position of governments and regional organizations (e.g. League of Arab States, Gulf Cooperation Council, etc.).

Session Objectives -

The tentative objectives of the session are:

  • Present case studies on instances where climate change/environment/water resources impacted security and link these to policies or lack of policies.
  • Address the importance of regional cooperation to enhance resilience and reduce risks and vulnerabilities
  • Identify the role of bilateral, regional and international agreements in fomenting cooperation to enhance resilience and reduce risks and vulnerabilities and ways this has been synergized with the broader crisis prevention and recovery agenda
  • Identify what has worked in terms of cooperation in the region to address converging threats from climate change, conflict and displacement and discuss why
  • Highlight challenges that were faced and identify the root causes
  • Provide a vision as to how to proceed in climate diplomacy so that international and regional actions can be accelerated to address the security implications of climate change


Format of the Discussion - 

Given the excellent background and richness of the experience of the various panelists, the organizers felt that they could not exclude anyone and thus the proposed allotted time for the session has been increased to a one hour and three quarters (1hr 45min) instead of an hour and a half. The anticipated schedule is as follows:

  • 1st Round – 25 minutes (4 min/discussant)

Initial statement by each discussant on his/her perspective, experience, thoughts, etc. on the implementation of the Paris Agreement, SDGs, other international agreements, experiences in the region, etc, security issues arising from the impacts of climate change on national natural resources (water, food, etc.), and ways climate action converges with broader actions for crisis prevention and recovery

  • 2nd Round – 15 minutes (2 min/discussant)

Discussants would respond to questions put forward by the moderator. The moderator would be working off a prepared set of questions and also would be expected to come up with questions/commentaries based on the initial statements by the discussants.

  • 3rd Round – 20 minutes (Audience)

The moderator would solicit questions, comments, input, etc. from the audience on matters brought up by the discussants.

  • 4th Round – 20 minutes (3 min/discussant)

Discussants would respond to questions raised by the audience

  • 5th Round – 10 minutes (Audience)

Moderator would wrap up the session.

  • 6th Round – 15 minutes (1 min/discussant 5 min for Moderator)

Discussants would respond to questions raised by the audience and provide final thoughts. Moderator would wrap up the session.


Picture credit: Flickr/Cpl. Alfred V. Lopez/1st Marine Division/USA