Climate change – a security risk

Published 29 December 2016 in:

Mongolian herders combat consequences of climate change by using animal feed that is more resilient towards extreme weather changes. Photo: Flickr / Asian Development Bank

Sweden is a leader in combating climate change, and in providing support for adaptation. In addition, Sweden is an active donor partner working towards sustainable peace in conflict situations around the world.

Climate change and its consequences for the environment are well-known. But climate change can also be the reason behind increased security risks for people and communities, especially in fragile and vulnerable countries. These connections are less well-known. Therefore, the Swedish Government commissioned the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) to conduct a research project exploring these links. The report Climate-related security risks – towards an integrated approach presents a number of proposals for policymakers.

Video: Climate change implications for security—what options for policy? 

When climate change contributes to food or water insecurity, for instance, or is one of the reasons for migration, the potential for conflict or violence increases –particularly if other grievances are present from the start. Risks do not occur in isolation, but rather are interrelated and can have effects on human security as well as community, state and even international security.

To mitigate these risks and to ensure conflict prevention efforts that are sustainable, it is necessary to integrate a perspective that includes climate-related risks when preparing interventions. It is also crucial to increase knowledge within donor governments and international organisations of measures that will improve the adaptation of communities – in particular vulnerable communities – to climate change. Sweden aims to improve its own response capacity in this regard, but will also contribute actively to better and more systematic understanding of climate-related risks to security within the international system.

The ability of the UN system to analyse risks systematically and from a climate perspective – and thus also improve the basis on which decisions are made – must be strengthened, and Sweden will pursue this aim during its membership of the UN Security Council.