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.
Drought and the Tuareg Rebellion
In 2012, a coup d’état overthrew the government of Mali. The destabilization of the country before and after the coup was fuelled by several external factors—including the crisis in Côte d’Ivoire, the Arab Spring, the war in Libya, international terrorist groups, and illicit trade of drugs and arms—along with internal issues, such as the country’s slow decentralization, corruption, northern separatism, demilitarization, high population growth, youth unemployment, and the rebellion of the Tuaregs, which played an important catalytic role.
The arid north of Mali, home to only 9 percent of the population, is a climate vulnerability hotspot. The cumulative effects of more frequent severe droughts, increasingly erratic rainfall, and rampant desertification have badly undermined natural resource-dependent livelihoods
and communities’ capacity to recover from shocks. The 2005, 2010, and 2011–12 droughts degraded the water table, killed off livestock, and spurred a mass exodus of young people. Along with resource scarcity, unemployment, economic fragility, weak governance, terrorism, and crime have combined with the many other grievances to underpin several Tuareg rebellions, including the 2012 rebellion led by the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad, whose loss of control and the subsequent insurgency in northern Mali by Islamist militants led to an international military intervention.
The root causes of conflicts within Mali are complex and interlinked, though most of the grievances arise from entrenched economic and political marginalization of certain groups. Since independence, successive ‘anti-nomad policies’ have undermined pastoralists’ access to grazing land and water, leaving them more vulnerable to environmental stress. Land tenure reforms, development policies, and political reforms during the intense modernization of agriculture in the 1960s successively fuelled the feeling of abandonment among pastoralists. Many other drivers have also spurred grievances, such as the government’s violent repression of rebellions, wider regional instability in Niger and Libya, and NGO reports that the government embezzled international drought relief aid.
The state’s inability to meet the basic needs of the population or to deal with the country’s successive environmental and political crises have eroded its credibility and legitimacy, weakening the social contract between some Tuareg and Arab populations and the Malian government. The security vacuum in the northern part of the country enabled criminal groups to proliferate; and in turn, chronic insecurity contributed to forced migration and the destruction of food and livestock, maintaining the vicious cycle of violence and instability.
Although constitutional order was restored following the 2013 presidential and parliamentary elections, and today economic recovery seems possible, Mali is still suffering from multiple interconnected crises, which together place immense stress on a country highly vulnerable to both climate change and conflict.
Bakrania, Shivit 2013: Conflict drivers, international responses, and the outlook for peace in Mali: a literature review (GSDRC Issue Paper). Birmingham: Governance and Social Development Resource Centre; University of Birmingham.
Benjaminsen, Tor A. 2008: Does supply-induced scarcity drive violent conflicts in the African Sahel? The case of the Tuareg rebellion in Northern Mali. In: Journal of Peace Research 45:6, pp 819–836.
Davis, Laura 2014: Supporting peaceful social, political and cultural economic change in Mali. Retrieved 08 Apr 2015, from http://www.international-alert.org/sites/default/files/Mali_SupportingPeacefulChange_EN_2014.pdf.
Goulden, Marisa; Roger Few; Lulsegged Abebe; Nick Brooks; Mona Daoud; Mamadou Kani Konaté; Elizabeth Sarney; Dan Smith; Boniface Umoh; Phil Vernon; Julia Weiner and Boubacar Yamba 2011: Climate change, water and conflict in the Niger River basin. Norwich: International Alert and University of East Anglia.
Hendrix, Cullen S. and Henk-Jan Brinkman 2013: Food insecurity and conflict dynamics: causal linkages and complex feedbacks. In: Stability: International Journal of Security and Development 2:26, pp 1–18.
Poulton, Robin-Edward and Ibrahim Youssouf 1998: A peace of Timbuktu: democratic governance, development and African peacemaking. New York, Geneva: United Nations.
Sidibé, Kalilou 2012: Security management in Northern Mali: criminal networks and conflict resolution (IDS Research Report, 77). Brighton: Institute of Development Studies.
USAID 2014: Mali climate vulnerability mapping. African and Latin American resilience to climate change (ARCC). Retrieved 11 Feb 2015, from http://www.ciesin.org/documents/Mali-CV-Mapping.pdf.
Watts, Robbie 2012: Managing climate change and conflict in Mali. Retrieved 15 Feb 2015, from https://www.ids.ac.uk/files/dmfile/LHcasestudy13-Mali.pdf.