Two weeks ahead of COP28 in Dubai and in an effort to foster an overarching policy dialogue aimed at identifying persistent climate-related conflict concerns and challenges within the IGAD region, as well as seeking avenues to reinforce the regional climate-security response frameworks, the FES-AU Cooperation office in collaboration with the Life & Peace Institute (LPI), IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Center (ICPAC), and Alliance of Local Communities in Hardship Areas (ALCHA) hosted a Diplomatic Briefing under the theme of “Addressing Climate Change to Sustain Peace in the IGAD Region” on 14 November 2023inAddis Ababa.
Climate change in Africa is posing significant threats to human and state security. Droughts and floods are lead to resource scarcity (water, food, and land), intensify competition for arable land, pasture, and water resources and trigger inter-communal and cross-border conflicts. Changing rainfall patterns and intensified droughts are negatively impacting agricultural products and livestock survival, causing livelihood and food insecurity and migration and population displacement, thereby giving rise to social tensions with host communities. Climate variability significantly influences the climate-conflict context and contributes to conflict risks by exacerbating pre-existing vulnerabilities like socio-economic, governance, political, and security issues. Africa, despite its low greenhouse gas emissions, experiences more climate disasters due to limited capacity for adaptation in terms of infrastructure, resources, and finance. Particularly, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) region, dependent on natural resources for livelihoods and economies, is vulnerable to climate-related dangers. States in the region experience consecutive failed rainy seasons, recurrent droughts, and floods, threatening the livelihoods of millions. The region encounters challenges in adapting to climate change due to limited resources, agriculture-based economies, and compounded issues of political instability, weak governance, and conflicts.
Over the years, IGAD has established institutions like CEWARN and ICPAC, along with policies, strategies, and partnerships to address the climate-security concerns. Nevertheless, comprehensive policy guidance for identifying, analyzing, assessing, early warning, and responding to root causes of climate-induced conflicts remains lacking. Additionally, the region confronts difficulties in translating policies into action, including challenges with cross-sectoral stakeholder coordination, overlapping efforts, and a lack of a common framework for addressing climate-related security concerns.
The diplomatic briefing convened members from the diplomatic corps, international and regional organizations, local CSOs, academia, and think-tank organizations involved and interested in promoting effective regional response to climate-related conflict risks in the subregion. The briefing provided a platform for dialogue and discussions on regional climate security challenges and suggested policy recommendations for policymakers to contemplate and act upon. The briefing, among other things, facilitated the development of an enhanced common understanding of the interplay between climate change and conflict outcomes within the sub-region, to discuss existing continental and regional policies, institutional responses, and coordination mechanisms and their degree of implementation aimed at addressing climate change effects on peace and security within the sub-region. The event also enabled a discussion on the CSO’s role and contribution in advocating, formulating, and implementing climate security policies and community engagement in the decision-making process of climate actions.
By engaging the diplomatic community and other key stakeholders in the briefing, the forum has enabled to further the agenda on mitigating the impacts of climate change on peace and security in the sub-region and to deliberate on improved collaboration and harmonized regional efforts to address the risks associated with climate-conflict risks.