The increasing impacts and effects of climate change are acting as a threat multiplier of violent conflict and fragility, in turn leading to the emergence and growth of non-state armed groups.
These are the findings from a new report published by leading independent think tank adelphi. The new report, Insurgency, Terrorism and Organised Crime in a Warming Climate – Analysing the Links Between Climate Change and Non-State Armed Groups, attempts to analyze the role climate change has in creating and fueling the actions of non-state armed groups (NSAG). The report starts off by noting that climate change does not have a linear impact on a country or region’s fragility and violent conflict, but rather acts as a threat multiplier — where there is already other existing risks and pressures such as population growth, urbanization, environmental degradation, and rising socio-economic inequalities, climate change acts to heighten and intensify these issues with its own series of risks, such as water accessibility, dangerous weather events, etc..
Obviously, those states already suffering from fragility and violent conflict are particularly affected by the effects of climate change, but the report also found that “seemingly stable states can be overburdened by the combined pressure of climate change” and other issues.
The report identifies two main mechanisms by which climate change acts to facilitate the rise and growth of NSAGs. First, climate change serves to contribute to fragility by contributing to conflicts based around natural resources and livelihood insecurity. “NSAGs proliferate and can operate more easily in these fragile and conflict-affected environments where the state has little to no authority (‘ungoverned space’) and is lacking legitimacy,” the authors of the report note.
Secondly, climate change has increasingly negative impacts on the livelihoods of people in many countries and regions, such as increasing food insecurity and water and land scarcities. This in turn leads to the affected populations growing more vulnerable to negative climate impacts, as well as being more vulnerable to recruitment by NSAGs who can offer a semblance of livelihood and economic incentives.
The report is based on four case studies “that span the whole spectrum of NSAGs and patterns of violence, conflict, and fragility” and helps explore in depth the role that NSAGs are playing in the larger dynamic of climate change and fragility. One of the interesting findings from the report is the way that NSAGs are leveraging the increasingly fragile environments, using natural resources as a weapon of war — such as refusing access to water or inhibiting access to natural resources.
However, instead of simply analyzing and pointing out the impacts climate change is having on conflict and fragility, the authors of the report also outline ways in which foreign policy makers can work to address the challenges of NSAGs and help to build more resilient states and societies that are able to turn their backs on NSAGs. According to the report, the key to building these resilient states and societies “will be to more effectively link climate change adaptation, development and humanitarian aid, and peace-building and conflict prevention.”
Image Credit: Afghanistan Matters, via Flickr
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