Assessing the Security Implications of Climate Change for West Africa: Country Case Studies of Ghana and Burkina Faso

By Alec Crawford, Oli Brown on March 6, 2008

Traditionally seen as an environmental and an energy issue, climate change is now also being cast as a threat to international peace and security. Africa, though the least responsible for greenhouse gas emissions, is seen as the continent most likely to suffer its worst consequences—a function of the continent's reliance on climate-dependent sectors (such as rain-fed agriculture) and its history of resource, ethnic and political conflict.

The security implications of climate change have become the subject of unprecedented international attention; in 2007 climate change was the focus of both a Security Council debate and the Nobel Peace Prize. There have been some attempts to construct scenarios of the ways in which warming temperatures might undermine security at a global scale. But the country-level security impacts of climate change have been lost in the political rhetoric. Local experts are rarely consulted.

This paper is a modest effort to address this research gap. Drawing on field visits and consultations with local experts, this paper explores the extent to which climate change may undermine security in two different countries in West Africa, Ghana and Burkina Faso.

Publication details

IISD, 2008