A Partnership Agenda for Climate Security

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Written by: Nam Nguyen, Diego Osorio, Frans Schapendonk and Peter Läderach

CGIAR FOCUS Climate Security explores the role of climate and food systems for lasting peace. We do this through multidisciplinary research and by building strong networks with partners who want to contribute directly or indirectly to climate security and peacebuilding. Find out more and read all our latest stories. This blog post is one part of the 6-outputs from the CGIAR Climate Security Webinar Series. You can view the full webinar discussion here. The webinar is also available in podcast format from the UN Global Dispatches Podcast website.

In the final Webinar of the 6-part series on Climate Security, we were joined by:

  • Mr. Robert Malley, President and CEO, International Crisis Group
  • Dr. Claudia Sadoff, Executive Management Team Convener and Managing Director, Research Delivery, and Impact of the CGIAR
  • Mr. Hans Olav Ibrekk, Policy Director, Section for Energy, Ministry, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norway
  • Mr. Frank Bousquet, Senior Director, Fragility, Conflict and Violence, World Bank Group.

This final webinar is placed against the backdrop of an increasingly variable climate and fast-paced environmental degradation. It emphasised leveraging new, cross-cutting partnerships with the potential to provide the kind of cross-disciplinary research and policy insights required to tackle the intersectional impacts of climate change. We focused, therefore, on a key question:

How do we operationalise partnerships to address climate security issues merging research, analysis, and policy engagement?

Within the UN security council, there has been an emerging recommendation that climate change will significantly alter the security landscape. However, efforts at mediation and peace negotiations have not gone far enough into incorporating a climate-sensitive lens. Yet it is important that diplomacy is both conflict- and climate-proof to be cognizant of both short- and long-term drivers of fragility. Mr. Ibrekk highlighted how this challenge becomes an opportunity, with climate change offering pathways to cooperation as well as opposition. A coordinated and multidisciplinary approach, therefore, offers a promising and important opportunity for further research and facilitate institutional collaboration among researchers, policymakers, and practitioners. Conflict/security and climate variability research and policy clusters have traditionally operated in their respective silos, structured around their own hubs of expertise and practice. This siloed structure significantly impacts the relationship between research and policy, as the transfer speed from research to practicable implementation is measured in years, not days or months.

On this topic, however, Mr. Ibrekk stressed that one of the reasons why there has not been adequate progressive action taken within the Security Council is due to a lack of actionable recommendations on climate issues.

This points to the crucial importance of delivering quality research products across the climate-conflict spectrum. Here, Dr. Sadoff emphasised that it is particularly important that actors understand co-benefits and recognise the role of food systems in contributing to security and stability. Food insecurity, hunger, drought, famine are significant drivers that can overwhelm the capacity of an existing fragile or weak state. Increasing the coping capacity of farmers to current and future climate risks can thus alleviate this stressor, through for instance the assistance to create more sustainable and resilient agricultural systems, such as seeds that are drought and flood-tolerant, or safety nets in the form of crop insurance to help farmers get back on their feet quicker.

Mr. Malley noted that in the meantime, as it takes time to develop these research agendas, the focus should lie with governance.  Although resource scarcity can be seen to have led to conflict in, for example, Mali or Northern Nigeria, good governance mechanisms with strong accountability and transparency can help mediate these grievances, reduce competition over resources, and prevent violent conflict from erupting. Examples of successful diplomacy have emerged from cases in Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan. Governance must therefore be maintained as a key focus at the core of the conversation surrounding climate and conflict.

What Can the CGIAR Contribute?

The CGIAR Focus Climate Security is charting a thematic connection between different areas of research and practice linking food systems to security and conflict, while placing them under a common banner. The objective is to uncover and maximise synergies, focusing not only on eliciting integrated research but to complement it with the most effective supporting role in policy development and advocacy.  As part of this new area of engagement, several strategic directions have been rolled out, all connected with the objective of establishing a solid area of practice clearly responding to a timely and strategic need. Some of them include:

Policy 4 Peace: The CGIAR aims to create and consolidate fluid channels between policymakers and life and social science interlocutors, so that they can work in a collaborative way. With research integration as a priority, policy development and support form the immediate next step

Evidence 4 PeaceIn terms of research, the process integrates the climate/ natural resources management and food systems science with research counterparts in conflict and security issues. It will focus on ensuring that the issue identification-research-to-policy cycle is accelerated in a way that key research is initiated mindful of local, regional and global security priorities, and of the need to ensure that life science inputs find their way into conflict analysis, policy and decision-making within the window of opportunity and timeframes required by rapid changing events in the security realm.

Finance 4 Peace: As we discussed in our webinar dedicated to the topic, leveraging sustainable finance is crucial in establishing the conditions appropriate for peace. Using our expertise, the CGIAR is able to identify investable opportunities, help develop the business capacity of investees, and develop effective impact monitoring tools and frameworks.

For further information on our strategic approach, please take a further read in our policy note.

If you are in a rush, check out a quick 2-minute summary video of our webinar discussion here:

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