This October the yearly Berlin Climate Security Conference (BCSC) took place against the backdrop of growing international focus on climate security nexus. One such manifestation of the growing focus was the release of a statement this summer by the G7 on ‘Climate, environment, peace and security’. The statement underlines the need to prevent global temperatures from exceeding 1.5 degrees on average. It outlines concrete actions the G7 group would take to introduce timely and effective responses to the security risks posed by Climate Change. The BCSC agenda has been based on this statement by building on its emphasis for increased global cooperation on the matter, and greater societal resilience and adaptation to climate change.
The statement has thus far been endorsed by over 20 countries, including the Netherlands. It is built upon previous declarations calling for greater focus on the security elements of climate change, among these is the Hague Declaration. The Hague Declaration was the culmination of discussions promoted by the Planetary Security Initiative (PSI) in 2017, that called for action on growing security issues in the face of climate change. The Declaration emphasized upscaling existing peacebuilding missions to account for climate change, providing an institutional home for the issue in international bodies, and increasing resilience and mitigation efforts for vulnerable communities.
Through the statement G7 countries, and their allies demonstrate a renewed focus in mobilizing the international community to address the climate-security nexus. International fora such as the BCSC play an important role in raising this discussion to the highest political levels, and promote innovative and sustainable responses to these new security realities.
A key example of how the climate-security nexus can bring benefits is PSI’s own Basra Forum (BF) that was featured at the BCSC, as part of PSI’s own work regard climate security practices. BF provides an alternative methodology to peacebuilding and cooperation by connecting local stakeholder such a academics, NGO’s, government officials, etc. and fostering discussions based on their mutual recognition and perception of climate change as an existential threat, that transcends societal divisions. BF encourages dialogue between parties that might otherwise refuse to communicate and have in the past shown outward hostility. Yet in the face of a threat of the magnitude of climate change they can recognize the value in cooperation. A focus on environmental issues thus helps to bridge gaps and contribute to peacebuilding and stabilisation of otherwise polarized societies.
By continuing to promote cooperative initiatives, that not only transcend national borders, but also seek to highlight creative responses to climate change action, there is a greater chance many of the harshest effects of the global phenomenon can be prevented. The recent BCSC was a strong step in this direction, but follow up and continued pressure on policy makers will be necessary to realize the change required in the coming decades.