Taking Action on Climate and Fragility Risks
This independent report, commissioned by the G7 members, identifies seven compound climate-fragility risks that pose serious threats to the stability of states and societies in the decades ahead. Based on a thorough assessment of existing policies on climate change adaptation, development cooperation and humanitarian aid, and peacebuilding, the report recommends that the G7 take concrete action, both as individual members and jointly, to tackle climate-fragility risks and increase resilience to them.
When climate change exacerbates conflicts and crises, resilience must be the compass for foreign policy. The Resilience Compass features news, reflections and opinions on climate change and fragility, with contributions from the Wilson Center’s New Security Beat, International Alert and guest authors.
This collection of resources complements and extends the analysis of the report. It contains an interactive factbook allowing users to explore case studies from around the world and provides background readings and contextualized report and event summaries.
In “Africa’s smallest war,” both Kenya and Uganda lay claim to Migingo Island, a tiny island in the waters of Lake Victoria. While the claims are over the island, the conflict is about something else entirely: Lates niloticus, also known as Nile perch, a tasty white fish that swims in the waters surrounding the island. The fish forms the backbone of the Lake Victoria economy but is increasingly hard to come by along the lakeshore. Catches are in decline, incomes are dropping, and the Ugandan government is taking increasingly harsh, militarized steps to help revive the fishery. Who is to blame?
When the Fourth Session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-4) takes place in Nairobi starting March 11, governments, international organizations, and civil society organizations will discuss issues on the theme of innovative solutions for environmental challenges and sustainable consumption and production with over 30 draft resolutions submitted for discussion. With few international forums where the environmental dimensions of conflict can be properly discussed, we were optimistic about the past resolutions tackling this topic.
“For people who have been refugees for the last 30 years, protecting Afghan wildlife was a way of protecting your own identity,” said Alex Dehgan, CEO and founder of Conservation X Labs, who recently spoke at the Wilson Center at the launch of his book, The Snow Leopard Project: And Other Adventures in Warzone Conservation. He credited his success in Afghanistan to crucial community members. By tapping into their local pride in conservation, Dehgan was able to establish the foundations for the country’s first national park, Band-e-Amir National Park, which opened 2009 in order to protect the endangered snow leopard and the rich biodiversity of Bamyan Province.
Transboundary Conservation Areas, such as Parks for Peace, have been heralded for their potential to simultaneously contribute to biodiversity conservation and peace, but evidence to this effect has been elusive. In fact, more indications suggest that transboundary conservation areas, including Parks for Peace, rely on pre-existing international peace between countries for formalization and on-going non-violent relations for continuity. Although they are primarily designed for ecological peace (based largely on arguments of ecological connectivity), they are not immune to environmental harms. Perhaps even more challenging is how “fortress conservation” and “green securitization” compromise social peace.
After close to 40 years of armed conflict, Afghanistan may be poised to begin a period of economic recovery. Electrifying remote areas and establishing pervasive political control is critical to its success. India is currently planning and funding several major hydropower projects along the Kabul River and its tributaries. Micro-hydropower is bringing electricity to remote areas such as the Banda Miralamji Village in eastern Nangarhar Province. However, in some areas far from the capital, the central government in Kabul and opposition groups are struggling for control and influence. While electrification of a village often eases poverty, health concerns, and improves communication, it does not always benefit the government in Kabul.
The challenge of peacebuilding missions is not only to stop violence and prevent a rekindling of conflict, but also to help societies and governments reset their internal relations on a peaceful path towards sustaining peace. In the short run, it might be tempting to dismiss environmental issues when considering the insurmountable task of building peace after armed conflict. Yet, it is increasingly clear that the interaction between social, political, and ecological processes decisively shapes the post-conflict landscape.
Finding domestic alternatives for rare earths has become a matter of national security, according to a recently released Pentagon report. The United States’ defense, economy, and infrastructure depend on the electronics that rely on these mineral elements. Trade tensions between the United States and China over rare earths illustrate an important dynamic surrounding little-seen building blocks of our daily life.
The shift to a low-carbon economy is not only underway, it is accelerating. What does a rapid energy transition mean for the countries that supply the inputs required for green facilities—particularly those countries that are struggling with fragility or corruption?
“In the last decade, almost half of Africa’s elephants have been killed for their ivory, and some experts are predicting that both elephants and rhinoceros will be extinct by 2030,” said Nancy Lindborg, President of the U.S. Institute of Peace at a recent event on wildlife poaching and trafficking. The illegal trade in protected wildlife is worth US$7-10 billion—some of which has ended up in the pockets of armed groups like Al-Shabaab and the Lord’s Resistance Army, said Lindborg.
In July 2018, a partially completed dam in Laos’ Attapeu province collapsed, washing away people and villages in its path. Hundreds of people were missing and more than six thousand lost their homes. And after last summer’s hurricanes, U.S. citizens in Houston and Puerto Rico escaped death but were forced to evacuate when dams were flooded. Dam failure can be catastrophic for people, property, and power – and the risks are rising.
Access to and competition over natural resources has been one of the most common triggers for conflict. Throughout the centuries, countries and communities have fought over productive agricultural land, trade routes, spices, textiles, opium, and oil, to name just a few. But the battle over one natural resource—fish—has long been overlooked. As trends in the global fish industry increasingly mirror the conflict-ridden oil sector, fish may become the newest addition to the list of resources driving geopolitical competition. There are five parallels between oil and fish that call for increasing the sustainability of the fishing industry, or we might find ourselves facing what U.S. Coast Guard Captain Jay Caputo has called “a global fish war.”