28 July 2020
  • horn of Africa
  • European Union
  • conflict prevention

Europe's approach in the Horn on climate security risks

A new policy paper by the Climate Security Expert Network and European Institute of Peace explores the climate – conflict nexus in the Horn of Africa. The study summarizes the science on the linkages between climate change and violence in the region, and presents an overview of how the EU and other European actors are approaching climate-related security risks in the Horn of Africa.  

This summary was first published by the Climate Security Expert Network and European Institute of Peace in July 2020.

Climate change pressures interact with conflict dynamics in the Horn of Africa. The already-tense Nile water-sharing negotiations between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt are being complicated by more erratic water supply which in turn exacerbate water shortages, and possibly affect the Nile flow downstream. Another example can be found in the Arabian Peninsula and Somalia. Unseasonably warm weather is coupled with the civil war damage to Yemen’s locust response system have worsened a locust outbreak that will threaten the food security of 25 million people in the region. Outside the scope of this paper, but also important, are the effects on the Horn of the political and economic responses to climate change in other parts of the world.

European actors are approaching climate security risks in the Horn through a wide range of interventions and projects that are underway across the region:

  • Supporting resilience efforts. Efforts to help to reduce people’s vulnerability to livelihood shocks can also help lower the risk of violent conflict by lessening their chances of joining armed groups. Support for resilience projects flows through implementing UN agencies as well as directly to governments.
  • Supporting improved natural resource management. Interventions that support improved natural resource management and that strengthen dispute resolution mechanisms build another kind of resilience and can be helpful in averting violent competition for resources.
  • Enabling mobility and migration. Pastoralist groups are often at the centre of the region’s communal conflicts; policies that help protect their mobility (which is a well-tested strategy to cope with climate variability) can safeguard their resilience and thus help to limit future risk. The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)’s protocols on the free movement of people and transhumance provide an example.
  • Strengthening relevant peace and security institutions. The national and regional institutions in the Horn all have a role to play in preventing and resolving conflict, and European support to these institutions (such as the AU, IGAD, the Nile Basin Initiative) and directly to governments, contributes to conflict resolution in the region, including conflicts that are climate-related.
  • Conflict prevention interventions. Similarly but on a smaller scale, conflict prevention efforts such as those funded by the Somalia Stability Fund, or the EU’s Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace, can support more targeted efforts to reduce conflict, again including conflicts with a climate aspect.
  • Supporting conflict-sensitive climate adaptation efforts. All efforts to strengthen adaptive capacity in the region can help to reduce conflict risk if they are designed and implemented in a conflict-sensitive manner. European support for climate adaptation projects flows through both the EU’s Global Climate Change Alliance Plus (GCCA+) as well as the international climate convention funds, the Global Environment Facility and the Green Climate Fund.

Read the full summary and the policy paper here

Photocredit: EU civil protection and humanitarian aid photostream / Flickr