Understanding compound risks, shaping effective responses: The case of Syria

Climate change is increasing the number and intensity of humanitarian disasters around the world. Addressing the linked risks of climate change and conflict will reduce the need for humanitarian relief, such as that around the refugee crisis, and can save lives and drive both peace and sustainable development.

With average temperatures continuing to rise and the growing awareness among the international community that disasters and conflicts are interrelated, it is now, more than ever, imperative to address climate change, disasters and conflict risks together, removing the silos that have hampered the effectiveness of the response. As this topic brief shows, nowhere is this made more apparent than in Syria.

Climate-driven impacts, such as droughts and cyclones, are not experienced as isolated catastrophes. They combine with the social, political and economic factors on the ground, including elections, corruption and the marginalisation of certain groups. In already fragile contexts where risks such as poverty, weak governance and conflict are high, and the ability to cope with these risks is low, climate change acts as the ultimate ‘threat multiplier’, making it more likely that societies are pushed over the edge into violent conflict and setting back the chances for peace.