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Climate Change Is Shaping the Future of Conflict

By International Crisis Group
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Dear Friends of Crisis Group,
In late April, I briefed a special Arria session of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on climate and security risks on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. I have attached my full remarks here and wanted to share some context for why this is so important to both me and Crisis Group.

Independent of the link to deadly conflict, climate change is an existential challenge that puts vulnerable populations at increasing risk and requires far more robust action than we have seen so far. The relationship between climate change and deadly conflict is complex and context-specific, but it is undeniable that climate change is a threat multiplier that is already, for example, increasing food insecurity, water scarcity and resource competition, disrupting livelihoods and spurring migration. As Crisis Group has documented for over two decades, these are all key factors that can in turn shape deadly conflicts around the world.

When we wrote our 2019-2024 strategic framework last year, Crisis Group prioritised climate change as a cross-cutting theme that is increasingly shaping the future of conflict, and hence, deserved increasing time and attention from our analysts. It is with great pleasure that I call your attention to the new global issue page on our website where you can find all of Crisis Group’s recent and historical analysis on this topic from each region we cover.

Finally, I would like to highlight the following excerpt from my UNSC remarks on what COVID-19 is demonstrating about the full set of risks posed by the climate crisis:

There is one overriding political message we should take from COVID-19, which is that without prompt global, collective action, climate change could prove to be the slow-moving version of the coronavirus outbreak, reshaping economic, political and security conditions around the world.

As I told the UNSC members and other observers, we have no alternative but to push forward with the challenging work ahead. I hope you will join us.

Best wishes,