A new climate of peace

Climate change is one of the biggest global security threats of the 21st century, and world leaders should put it at the forefront of foreign policy, according to a major new report commissioned by the G7 group, presented at the meeting of G7 foreign ministers in Berlin on 15 April.

The report, titled A new climate of peace: Taking action on climate and fragility risks, was co-authored by International Alert as part of an international consortium with adelphi (a Berlin-based think tank), the European Union Institute for Security Studies (EUISS) and the Wilson Center in Washington DC.

In their communique, the G7 foreign ministers welcomed the report and pledged a stronger joint commitment to addressing the climate risks faced by fragile states. They agreed there is a need to better integrate climate-fragility considerations in foreign policy, and decided to set up a working group to evaluate the study’s recommendations.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said: "I am delighted that based on this study we can develop joint measures and give new impetus to international processes. This is particularly important in light of the upcoming climate conference in Paris [in December 2015]."

The authors of the report recommended concrete actions that foreign ministers can take to increase the resilience of weak states, delivering peace and security across the globe. Achieving an agreement for major reductions in carbon emissions at the Paris climate summit in December is crucial but not enough. It will slow climate change down but changes in the climate system are already under way. The study focuses on the need for G7 governments to help build resilience to the impact of climate change in poor and conflict-affected countries and communities.

Dan Smith, Secretary General of International Alert and one of the lead authors of the report, said: "Climate change is the ultimate ‘threat multiplier’: it will aggravate fragile situations and may contribute to social upheaval and even violent conflict.

"We are very pleased the G7 foreign ministers have articulated a new commitment to meeting one of the greatest challenges of our time: building resilience to climate-fragility risks.

"Climate impacts also know no bounds. They cross all boundaries, whether of nation, sector or agency. Responding to the global strategic threat posed by climate change is too great a task for any single government and requires collaboration."

Further information can be found in the report’s executive summary, which can be downloaded here: www.newclimateforpeace.org. The full report will be available from the same address in a few weeks.

Alert focuses on building resilience to the interconnected challenges of climate change, poverty and conflict, and advises local, national and international decision-makers involved in climate change, development and peacebuilding. Find out more about this work at www.international-alert.org/climate-change

Photo © Philip Dera – adelphi