Climate Change, Adaptation, and Conflict: A Preliminary Review of the Issues
This discussion paper examines how and where climate change may be linked to conflict and some of the implications for development agencies.
The first section discusses climate trends and how climate change is likely to threaten human security and drive grievances that, in combination with other factors, can lead to violent conflict. It also describes how traditional coping strategies that have enabled populations to survive could be infeasible under projected climate effects.
The second half reviews current discussions on how, why, and where violent conflict can erupt in regions experiencing climate change. It highlights the role of governance and pre-existing instabilities.
Factors linking climate change and the potential for conflict include land degradation, water scarcity, decreased food production, increased mortality from diseases, unplanned migration, and hazards associated with extreme weather events.
These effects are likely to be most acute in countries already struggling with low levels of development, persistent poverty, limited social service systems, and in some cases, pre-existing political and social instability.
The paper concludes by sketching out gaps in knowledge on this subject and challenges for development agencies operating in countries where changing climatic conditions may take on growing importance in relation to threats to human security, socioeconomic breakdown, political upheaval, and violent conflict.