A part of the Climate Security communications strategy was to develop a Climate Security Website which would operate as the epicentre of the Climate Security research area and serve as the face of our brand. The website will act as a springboard to share knowledge, generate support and raise awareness of our cause. The site welcomes visitors and presents vital information and data for scholars and researchers alike. It aims to educate our audience on our mission statement, provide a space for knowledge sharing and host events and blogs orchestrated by Climate Security and its partners.
The ability to translate science and research into effective and actionable policy making, is paramount if we are to face future challenges posed by a changing climate. The struggle between researchers and scientists to communicate findings in ways that resonate with decision makers and the public has been well documented (Cvitanovic and Hobday, 2018). In order to make progress both scientists and policy makers must pool their efforts and allow for ever evolving scientific knowledge to transpire into palpable constructive outcomes. In order for this to be possible scientists must possess the ability to project tangible possible impacts that may arise from their research. Despite efforts from both parties thus far, there is still a disparity between scientific endeavours and policy making (Cvitanovic and Hobday, 2018).
Aside from communicating with policy makers it is essential that scientists and researchers alike learn to effectively communicate with the media. In a democracy public support is crucial for the success and implementation of sufficient and effective policies (Stoknes, 2014). In order to secure this support, the public must have access to coherent and convenient information (Junsheng et al., 2019). As the media is the most powerful communications tool at our disposable it is reasonable to state that mass media has the ability to shape understanding and drive awareness of issues surrounding climate change (Neelima and Reddy, 2014).
In recent years there has been a growing discussion between researchers, policy makers and the media around the topic concerning the climate-migration-conflict nexus. It is expected that as volatile climatic events increase in vulnerable regions, so too will the mass movement of people away from impacted areas. It must be made clear that in order to understand this complex relationship we must first seek to discern that these three phenomena share a circular affiliation to one another. While it is well understood that climate change has the ability to provoke both large scale migration and conflict in fragile territories, it is important to also note that conflict is a powerful driver of migration and vice versa. Considering these intricacies, our partners at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) have focused their research on the pathways of how climate change can be the catalyst for both ensuing climatic conflict and migration in unstable regions. (Burrows and Kinney, 2016).
Although there has been much debate between researchers, it is estimated that by 2050 more than 200,000 individuals will be displaced due to climatic events. This appears to be the most commonly cited and agreed upon figure of potential climate migrants, though some experts believe the true count will be much higher. Drivers of climate induced migration in unstable regions include the occurrence of storms, flooding, wildfires and land degradation, but existing literature and a study conducted by IFPRI in Pakistan suggests overwhelmingly that heat stress, temperature rise and long-term drought are the prime motivation for climate related migration (Mueller, Gray and Kosec, 2014) (Burrows and Kinney, 2016).
According to FAO prolonged drought is the dominant reason for loss of crop yields in developing countries the implications of which can be disastrous for smallholder farmers and vulnerable people. Seasons of droughts can cause food insecurity, a shortage of drinking water, loss of livestock, reduction in productivity and agricultural activities. These conditions alone or together can result in the loss of income and stability leaving many vulnerable. In fact it was recorded in a study by (Mueller, Gray and Kosec, 2014) that sever heat stress in Pakistan effectively wiped out one third of agricultural wages, and a further 16% of non-agricultural wages leading experts to the conclusion that heat stress provides a negative income shock.
Although some experts claim that there is no linear, direct link between climate and conflict, there is mounting literature stating the contrary, whereby, changes in climate can influence factors which may exacerbate or lead to conflict. One such factor is drought and heat stress both of which are a major threat to the stability of fragile regions and have been often linked to periods of conflict and unrest. Maystadt, Calderone and You, 2014, stated that high temperatures and water instability in Sudan are found to ‘strongly affect the risk of conflict’. It was found that a slight change of just one 1 standard deviation was enough to raise the median frequency of intergroup conflicts by 14%. The same study found the competition for natural resources along with and often accelerated by heat stress a strong driver of conflict and violence in vulnerable regions.
These studies conducted by IFPRI highlight crucial knowledge gaps within the Climate Change – Migration – Conflict nexus and have helped researchers to disentangle the sophisticated pathways between them. Although these pathways may often be indirect and complex it is important to note how changes in climate such as drought and heat stress can have staggering impacts on both conflict and migration in already fragile, unstable regions. This body of literature has prompted climate scientists to investigate future adaptation strategies that are needed in order to avoid catastrophic future events. Such adaptation practices include the possibility of shifting relief investments towards weather insurance and warning systems, heat resistant livestock and resilient crop varieties, irrigation schemes and education, along with a range of integrated policies aimed at relieving individuals of burden in times of stress (McKenzie, Gibson, and Stillman, 2010) (Beegle, De Weerdt, Dercon, 2011).
Existing research shows that one of the most important social and political risks associated with climate change pertains to water availability. Global water security is a major global issue, a problem which many researchers believe is escalating due to climate change, a rising population and degradation of freshwater resources. The main consequences of climate change associated with water resources are shifts in precipitation patterns, increasing temperatures and an increasing frequency of flooding and drought. It has been estimated that these disruptions to the water cycle will likely leave billions of people water insecure resulting in the materialization of conflict around international water systems. In recent years, conflict studies have begun to pay more attention to the possible vulnerabilities of natural and social systems posed by climate change, particularly in poor and politically unstable parts of the world, such as Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. The combination of political, social, and environmental instability lends regions the increased potential for conflict. The importance of water as a resource means that tensions and frictions within and between countries can be easily exacerbated by its insecurity and while it may not always be the defining factor in generating conflict it can certainly serve as a catalyst to ignite sensitive situations.
One recent example of how water insecurity may lead to civil unrest in vulnerable areas is the Syrian Civil War which continues today. Experts indicate that there are correlations between the beginning of civil unrest and the countries longest recorded drought period between the years of 2006 and 2011. During this time rainfall in most parts of the country fell below the minimum amount needed to support un-irrigated farming. Millions of rural workers moved to urban areas in search of opportunities, putting an enormous strain on cities already supporting a recently displaced 1.5 million Iraqi refugees. By 2010 Syria’s GDP had dropped by almost half, falling from $5000 per hectare to $2,900. A combination of the socioeconomic changes, internal displacement and economic crisis led to the Arab Spring Protests in March 2011 that preceded the current conflicts. It is evident that although water scarcity alone may not have caused the civil war in Syria it was certainly a driver of events which resulted in unrest and early conflict between the Syrian regime and its people. This shows us an important impact pathway that a factor of climate change can have on internal and global conflict.
CGIAR and our partners at the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) have been working in the area of water security and its connection to climate change and conflict for some time. Their work has so far focused on three different levels, each one with different challenges and subsequent solutions.
Transboundary waters which refers to a body of water shared by two or more countries, can often be the source of conflict. The complexities arise when changes in water flows - particularly reductions - lead to disputes and heightened political tension between nations. Similar issues can arise around shared groundwater systems. IWMI has a research group focused on transboundary issues such as water resource management, politics, and the water-food-energy nexus. The second area where IWMI’s work is focused is the river basin or ground water discharge zone in various locations across Asia and Africa. The task here is balancing water across different sectorial demands and the tensions which arise under increasingly water-scarce conditions. The main challenge in this space is managing the devastating impacts of floods and droughts on farmers and agricultural systems. Many of the IWMI initiatives are focused on the management of risk factors and adaptation strategies before humanitarian disasters occur. Such work includes early warning systems and financial risk instruments such as insurance to support farmers during climate crisis. The third part of IWMI’s work is water in urban systems, particularly rapidly growing cities in Africa and Asia. The provision of water and food to cities relies on developed value chains, investments in infrastructure, good governance, and connections with upstream basins, hinterlands and beyond. CGIAR and IWMI’s work covers various areas in this space including the circular economy, governance, as well as work on institutions and local resilience planning.
IWMI works alongside CGIAR toward mitigating various forms of conflict caused by a combination of water stresses. As we aim to expand our research on climate security and conflict, it is important to note the connection between climate security, water security and conflict. Changes in rainfall and temperature, felt through soil moisture, stream flow and groundwater are fundamental to crop production. Similarly, climate extremes such as droughts and floods are shown to have devastating impacts on farmers. All of these variabilities, in tandem with much deeper-rooted issues of educational and employment opportunities, governance and government interventions and basic economic and social resilience to withstand climate shocks, bring challenges for humanitarian development and peace actions.
Among the main drivers of conflict and peace insecurity in vulnerable regions are food insecurity and the lack of sufficient income to support livelihoods. Each of these issues in their own right, have the power to de-stabilize vulnerable communities causing tension and, in some cases, violent conflicts and civil unrest. To understand the connection been poverty, food insecurity, and conflict it is important to note that as of this century civil conflict is almost solely an anomaly affecting regions which are food/water insecure and experiencing some form of poverty (Collier et al. 2003). There is indeed a growing body of research which states that civil conflict is intrinsically linked both directly and indirectly to environmental and political factors affecting access to wealth, food and water scarcity (Center for Systemic Peace 2012).
To understand the intricacies between these prominent conflict drivers it is important to note their ties to agriculture and its ability to prosper in a region. A strong agricultural system can aid in the development of secure societies in vulnerable areas through the creation of wealth, incomes, and prosperous livelihoods. To ensure the development of an agricultural system that has the ability to withstand ever increasing climatic shocks, farmers, institutions, and governments must adapt and diversify current methods through the implementation of Climate Smart Agricultural (CSA) practices. CSA is an approach which hopes to ensure security through increased agricultural incomes, adaptation and resilience building and mitigation of greenhouse gases where possible. One such CSA practice is community-based agriculture (CBA) which is a process of resilience building relying on the mapping and recording of how CSA practices reduce vulnerabilities among local communities.
Climate smart villages (CSV) are a fraction of the CBA program, whereby small communities are selected to participate in an adaptation and agricultural rejuvenation scheme. CSV are set up in areas which are considered to be high risk regarding threats from climate change (Kinyangi et al., 2015). They are equipped with CSA technologies, information services, and adaptation practices, all tailored toward the village and its specific agricultural needs. These may include local development plans such as workshops, adaptation plans such as new seed and livestock species, climate information services such as weather stations and new technologies such as irrigation systems.
These CSA practices and the associated participatory action research is aimed at deriving a portfolio of scalable technological options and social learning processes that address climate and livelihood risks. The research also aims to identify local livelihood, nutrition, and income needs. The aim of the scheme is to build resilience, ensure security and promote adaptation though the use of interventions both institutional and technological. Individual projects are based on local conditions and global knowledge (Aggarwal et al.,2013).
For regions with existing ethnic tensions who are prone to conflict, the development of CSVs, related stakeholder discussions and development plans present strong foundations for long-term development and reductions in exposure to climate variability. This is particularly important in a country such as Myanmar where there is a distinct diversity of ethnic groups, climate zones and agroecosystems. (Heltberg, Siegel, & Jorgensen, 2009) (Kansiime, 2012). The beginning of this blog outlines how different resource insecurities and discrepancies may cause conflict and unrest in many parts of the world. In contrast to this, is the case of Myanmar, where it is instead appropriate to interpret the ongoing conflict as a driver for many of the country’s insecurities. It is often the case that certain drivers of conflict such and food and water insecurity are consequences of tensions in an unstable area. The ethnic conflict in Myanmar has been a long and gruesome one with many casualties among both parties and civilians alike.
According to USAID, armed conflict, recurring natural disasters and intercommunal violence are all drivers of food insecurity across Myanmar. Vulnerable communities lack access to nutritious food and livelihood opportunities along with population displacement, destruction of crops and lack of access to income generating opportunities. In a region so prone to disruption, poverty, and unrest it is essential to introduce measures and practices which help to build resilience among communities, while providing access to essentials such as clean water, nutritious food, and a steady income. Communities, both large and small, must be prepared to address both current and future risks to ensure security, one way this can be achieved is through the implementation of climate smart villages.
Our partners at IIRR will observe a network of four climate smart villages implementing unique community based agricultural processes. It is hoped that this opportunity can be utilized to refine, adapt, and optimize the climate smart village approach as a platform to support community-based adaptation processes. Each of the villages are comprised of diverse agro-ecological and socio-cultural settings within Myanmar. Aiming to develop and test scalable social learning processes and institutional mechanisms that may facilitate community-based adaptation processes, and to scale up the most successful agricultural innovations through civil society organizations and government institutions. The project will focus on building a portfolio of agricultural methods and technologies which can be rolled out across the country in the aim of building livelihood security and agricultural resilience among tensions.
Examples of specific actions taken by the IIRR include participatory vulnerability assessments, testing of identified CSA options, and building partnerships with local NGOs. In Ma Sein village, IIRR, conducted testing of household-level container gardening and backyard pig raising. Additionally, a school garden was set up to demonstrate vegetable production and small-scale fish culture for the education of children and parents on the value of diversification. In Htee Pu village, IIRR implemented the distribution of pigeon pea, green gram and mango seedlings to demonstrate small-scale fruit tree orchards.
The next phase of the program will focus on strengthening the implementation of CSA options and documenting the results of these with regards to reducing the risks climate change poses to farmers. In the near future, IIRR will partner with local research stations to develop a portfolio of CSA options relevant to different agro-ecologies and sociocultural settings. Equity, gender, and nutrition considerations will be featured in the design of local strategies. In homesteads, schools, and every CSV, small farms will serve as complementary platforms for promoting CSA in an effort to strengthen local adaptive capacities.
The implementation of CSV in Myanmar is an important aspect of developing adaptation systems for future use. It is instrumental in our understanding of how increased food and income security may affect those most effected by conflict. How can the adaptation and construction of prosperous agricultural systems aid in the resolution of tensions in Myanmar and across the globe?
CGIAR is a global agricultural innovation network which includes 15 research centres, eight programs on agri-food systems and four cross-cutting integrating programs across the globe. CGIAR centres and programs contribute to global challenges around food systems and focuses on climate change, natural resources and rural-urban linkages, directly addressing climate change and conflict in the context of the humanitarian, development and peace nexus. CGIAR brings together agricultural, climate, environmental and social sciences to identify and address the most important interactions, synergies and trade-offs between climate change and agriculture. The work of CGIAR makes agri-food systems environmentally and socially sustainable by addressing the regeneration of degraded landscapes, land and water solutions, migration, rural-urban linkages and gender, youth and inclusivity.
Conflicts are often driven by multidimensional interactions between environmental, economic, social and institutional factors. Climate change is increasingly recognised to exacerbate the risk of conflict development, via cascading and interacting effects across socioeconomic and political systems. Climate-related factors impact conflict dynamics in multiples ways, hence the concept of climate security, i.e. climate change-induced security risks for human and natural systems, needs to be considered in conflict management and strategic policymaking processes. Until recently, issues around conflict and fragility have been addressed from a symptomatic rather than holistic perspective. The need to integrate climate change and food systems thinking into conflict management is only now being acknowledged by academia, development and governmental agencies. Understanding and systematically analysing the root causes and the role climate security plays for conflict and peace is key to plan and implement interventions addressing and preventing conflict.
It is well documented that climate change will accentuate stresses in many of the world’s vulnerable systems such as agriculture, energy systems, water resources, human health, the economy and undermine the general living conditions in which we currently exist (Scheffran and Battaglini, 2010). It is thought that security risks and violent conflict may well be a stress factor arising due to the overbearing pressure on the systems we currently depend on to sustain human life (IPCC, 2007). According to a study conducted by the CNA Corporation, climate change has the ability, to lead to increased boarder tensions around the world, influence large-scale migrations, induce conflict over water and food shortages and the acceleration and mass spread of disease, all of which have the capability to catalyse instability and conflict in even the most stable regions of the world (CNA Corporation 2007).
The linkages between climate change and security have found their way into international contemporary politics, with climate change being defined as an impending security threat (McDonald, 2013). The security threats posed by climate change have been identified and explored by many of the world’s leading organizations such as the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), the UN General Assembly (UNGA, 2009), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP, 2007) the UN Development Program (UNDP, 2007) and the UN Secretary General (Moon, 2007). Along with these extensive reports, there has been a substantial increase of peer-reviewed literature on the complications climate changes poses to global security.
Hello and welcome to my blog for my CCAFS MSc research thesis. I will be completing my thesis with CGIAR Climate security, developing and implementing a communications strategy. I will oversee the development and employment of the strategy over the coming two months. Once the communications strategy has been rolled out I will analyse the results to determine if it was successful and if there were any major oversights.