Peacebuilding_Somalia_Credit_UN Tobin Jones

Managing Climate Risks in Fragile States

Efforts to help fragile states move onto a path toward stability and sustainability continue to face enormous challenges. Climate change is one of these challenges.

This is true for a number of reasons, including: the high exposure of many fragile states to climate risks; their economic reliance on climate-dependent sectors (particularly rain-fed agriculture); and their histories of conflict, poverty and weak governance, which all serve to increase vulnerability to climate change. A failure to consider and address climate change and risks will undermine peacebuilding programs and projects, and threaten their long-term sustainability.

There is growing consensus among researchers and policy-makers that climate change represents a real threat to peace and security. IISD undertook this research project to examine whether this consensus is reflected among peacebuilding practitioners. Drawing on desk-based research, practitioner surveys and interviews, and workshop discussions, the research aims to provide guidance on how to simultaneously achieve peacebuilding and climate-resilience objectives in practice. To do so, it addresses the following questions:

  • Are peacebuilding practitioners operating in conflict-affected fragile states aware of or concerned about climate change and variability?
  • If so, what are they doing about it? If not, then why not, and what further guidance do they require?
  • To what extent can peacebuilding practitioners access, understand and use existing climate data and information?
  • What new information and climate services are needed to design better, more climate-compatible peacebuilding programs?

By answering these questions, the research provides insights on climate-resilient peacebuilding interventions that take into consideration the implications of near- and long-term climate risk as a contributing factor in driving conflict. It also considers conflict-sensitive climate change responses designed to ensure that, at a minimum, interventions do not increase the risk of conflict and, preferably, serve to enhance peacebuilding opportunities. This research also provides guidance for accessing, understanding and using climate information in fragile states, guidance that was tailored to the needs and capacities of peacebuilding practitioners.