PODCAST: Climate change, conflict and peace


A study in the peer review journal Science out this week claims to show evidence of the links between a warming climate and increased violence. But case study research from International Alert on community resilience in fragile contexts in South Asia guards against such generalisations and shows that local dynamics and nuances are critical.

Climate change has been widely acknowledged as a ‘threat multiplier’ of existing security risks. It can exacerbate political instability and put a strain on a state’s capacities, especially in fragile contexts. With governance already stretched in certain parts of South Asia, social disruptions driven by climate and environmental change will pose additional challenges to stability and security.

Deepening and operationalising the understanding of how to respond to climate change and security risks in specific contexts is therefore an urgent priority and one that can only be advanced effectively through joint research, dialogue and knowledge-sharing between the climate change, security and development sectors.

To this end, International Alert and the South Asia Network for Security and Climate Change (SANSaC) have been working together for the past two years on a research project entitled ‘Strengthening Responses to Climate Variability in South Asia’, funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The research culminated in the launch of four case studies which look at the dimensions of community-level resilience to climate change and variability in Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan. The studies each set out specific challenges and opportunities faced by communities at the sub-national level in responding to climate change. Whilst the issues varied in each case, illustrating that a one-size-fits-all approach to building resilience will not get far, all four studies shared a strong common theme: that building resilience is about institutions and governance.

To mark the launch of this research and stimulate dialogue around the issues raised by the studies, Alert and SANSaC convened a roundtable discussion of regional experts from across South Asia in Kathmandu, Nepal on 8 July 2013. The event brought together experts, policy-makers and practitioners from the four case study countries as well as Sri Lanka, the UK and US to discuss the complex interactions between climate change, development and security, and to explore opportunities for promoting peace-positive responses to climate change.

Listen to a podcast of these experts in conversation above.