Bildtext får vara max två rader text. Hela texten ska högerjusteras om den bara ska innehålla fotobyline! Photo: B. Christensen/Azote
Risk for armed conflict increases immediately after climate-related disasters
- The paper combines statistical data with actual case studies to demonstrate the links between conflicts and climate disasters
- The conflicts take place in countries or regions that are already vulnerable and exposed to political and social instability
- Strengthening state capacities to limit any negative impacts of a climate-related disaster could reduce the likelihood of armed conflicts, at least in the short term
Study shows one third of cases erupt within seven days. Countries with political exclusion, low human development and large populations most vulnerable
CONFLICT AND CLIMATE CHANGE: When former UN-Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon called the war in Darfur “the first climate war” he pointed to an increasing number of cases where climate change and security are connected.
Policy makers have also linked the 2006-2009 drought disaster in Syria to the onset of the civil war in 2011. Several other cases exist but many have also been criticized for not being scientifically robust enough in their evidence.
A vicious circle
A paper published in the journal Global Environmental Change demonstrates a new way to identify when and how climate-related disasters contribute to armed conflict.
The paper, co-authored by centre researcher Jonathan Donges, combines statistical data with actual case studies to demonstrate the links. Their work shows that one third of all conflicts studied between 1980 and 2016 were preceded by a disaster within seven days.
Furthermore, and perhaps not surprising, the conflicts take place in countries or regions that are already vulnerable and exposed to political and social instability. It is a vicious circle, Donges and his colleagues argue.
Because armed conflict also increases vulnerability to disasters, a vicious circle could emerge where disasters fuel violence and violence increases risks for further disasters.
Jonathan Donges, co-author
The case studies demonstrate how climate-related disasters often trigger rebels to act violent and cause conflicts. For instance, a drought affecting Mali in June 2009 helped Al-Qaeda to recruit fighters and extend its area of operation in the country.
Similarly, severe landslides and cyclones in the Philippines set the stage for violent conflicts between the Communist Party and the Moro National Liberation Front.
The most important solution
Donges and his colleagues believe their work to have important policy implications. Strengthening state capacities to limit any negative impacts of a climate-related disaster could reduce the likelihood of armed conflicts, at least in the short term.
However, something else is more important, they conclude:
“Reducing political exclusion and raising levels of human development not only promote more inclusive societies, but also make countries more resilient to armed violence in a world with a rapidly changing climate."
Podcast: The 2020 Human Development Report - how can resilience thinking contribute to new global development strategies?
The researchers combined three methods well established in environmental security research in our study: event coincidence analysis (ECA), qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) and case studies. Their sample includes all countries with sufficient data availability for the time period 1980-2016, thereby avoiding concerns about sampling biases (Adams et al., 2018).
The independent variable is the occurrence of a climate-related disaster according to MunichRE's (2019) NatCatSERVICE database, including the categories meteorological events (e.g., droughts), hydrological events (e.g., floods), and climatological/extreme temperature events (e.g., heat waves). They used the country as the level of analysis because disasters can impact conflict risks well beyond their specific location, for instance if the state is weakened or migration flows are triggered. In the case studies, they also considered the relationship between locations of disasters and conflict-related violence.
Research news | 2022-05-16
The effects of less, but better meat farming
Study captures the real-world experiences and effects of a farm’s journey towards sustainability
Research news | 2022-05-14
Our engagements during Stockholm +50
When and where to find us during the international environmental meeting in Stockholm 2-3 June
Research news | 2022-05-10
Centre joins SEK 45 million landscape programme
LAND-PATHS programme will engage with ordinary citizens to develop more sustainable and integrated decision-making processes
Research news | 2022-05-09
Three ways games can break sustainability deadlocks
Played by the right people, strategy games can break free from established norms and support more transparent democratic dialogues
Research news | 2022-05-04
What will it take to save the human ocean?
Seminar on ocean sustainability highlights importance of urgent and collaborative stewardship of the big blue
Research news | 2022-05-02
Why seafood certification is still not big in Japan
New study investigates the barriers and bridges to sustainability certifications on the Japanese seafood market