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Climate Change & Fragility as a Foreign Policy Priority: A New G7 Report

At the close of a meeting of G7 foreign ministers in Lübeck today, a new independent report titled "A New Climate for Peace: Taking Action on Climate and Fragility Risks" was released. The report, co-authored by the Wilson Center, recommends concrete actions that foreign ministers can take to increase the resilience of fragile and conflict-affected states to climate-related security risks.

Washington, D.C. — At the close of a meeting of G7 foreign ministers in Lübeck today, ministers announced a stronger collective commitment to tackling climate-related risks in states experiencing situations of fragility. The ministers’ final communiqué declared that “Climate change is among the most serious challenges facing our world. It poses a threat to the environment, to global security and economic prosperity. It has the potential to reverse the progress that has been made in the past decades in tackling global poverty. Without adequate mitigation and adaptation efforts, the impacts of rising temperatures and changing precipitation patterns heighten the risk of instability and conflict. We must effectively address this challenge.”

In preparation, an independent consultancy working on behalf of the G7 looked into the relationships between climate change and fragile and conflict-affected states. The report, A New Climate for Peace: Taking Action on Climate and Fragility Risks, was presented to German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier yesterday in Berlin. “I am delighted that this report has delivered a basis upon which we can develop common measures and give impetus to internationally-orientated processes,” Steinmeier remarked at the presentation. “This is particularly important in light of the upcoming climate conference in Paris.”

In the independent report by adelphi, the European Union Institute for Security Studies (EUISS), International Alert, and the Wilson Center, the authors recommended concrete actions that foreign ministers can take to increase the resilience of fragile and conflict-affected states to climate-related security risks.

Researchers recommend stronger cooperation amongst G7 Task Force
The report recommends G7 governments develop and implement integrated approaches to climate diplomacy. For this to occur, each foreign ministry should approach climate and fragility-related risks with urgency and work together to agree on foreign policy approaches to climate issues. The G7 governments are together responsible for half of global economic output and almost two thirds of global development funding. They are thus in a unique position to take the lead in developing integrated political processes – not ad hoc measures – to tackle climate and fragility risks.

“Climate change poses complex challenges that require integrated responses,” said Roger-Mark De Souza, a contributing author to the report and director of population, environment, and security at the Wilson Center. “The G7 commissioning this report indicates a critical step forward in responding to the threats posed by climate change and harnessing the significant co-benefits that can be reaped by coordinating responses across sectors.”

The 7 compound risks that make climate change a serious threat
“This climate and fragility report is significant for going beyond questions of climate change and conflict links to identify a wider range of critical climate change and fragility connections that fits squarely on foreign policy agendas,” said Geoff Dabelko, a report author, director of environmental studies at Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, and senior advisor to the Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program. “The analysis matches these compound risks with ongoing policy initiatives and suggests ways to advance climate change, development, and peacebuilding efforts.”

The authors of A New Climate for Peace: Taking Action on Climate and Fragility Risks identified seven compound risks that make climate change a serious threat to countries in fragile situations. “The various compound risks are interlinked and, as a result, climate change is a complicated challenge,” explained Lukas Rüttinger, a lead author of the report. The greatest threats from such risks are faced by states experiencing situations of fragility, but excessive pressure or sharp shocks are capable of pushing even stable states into fragility.

Further information can be found in the report’s Executive Summary:

Notes to editors:

1. The Wilson Center provides a strictly nonpartisan space for the worlds of policymaking and scholarship to interact. By conducting relevant and timely research and promoting dialogue from all perspectives, it works to address the critical current and emerging challenges confronting the United States and the world.
2. adelphi is a Berlin-based think tank and public policy consultancy on environment, development, and foreign policy. With a staff of 130, adelphi provides high-quality interdisciplinary research and strategic policy analysis, public policy consulting and training, and facilitates dialogue for governments, development partners, and international organizations.
3. International Alert is Europe’s leading peacebuilding organization, with almost 30 years of experience laying the foundations for peace across Asia, Africa, Eurasia, Middle East, and Latin America. It was one of the first NGOs to research, analyze, and lead innovative thinking on the security implications of climate change, particularly in fragile states.
4. The European Union Institute for Security Studies (EUISS) is an autonomous EU agency dealing with the analysis of foreign, security, and defense policy issues. The Institute’s core mission is to provide both analyses and discussion fora to enrich the formulation of EU policy, acting as an interface between European experts and decision-makers at all levels.


Roger-Mark De Souza

Roger-Mark De Souza

Global Fellow and Advisor;
Former Director of Population, Environmental Security, and Resilience
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