Insights from the Webinar: Climate Adaptation for Peace – Building Resilient Societies in a Polycrises Era

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Authors: Carolina Sarzana and Ibukun Taiwo (CGIAR Focus Climate Security, The Alliance of Bioversity and CIAT)

As the world grapples with the multifaceted challenges of climate change, the interconnection of maladaptation and conflict, and the transformative potential of peace co-benefits are compelling interests.

The CGIAR Focus Climate Security hosted a webinar to examine the profound linkages between climate challenges and the broader domains of peace, social cohesion, and stability, especially in vulnerable regions.

Drawing on the expertise of diverse stakeholders across the globe, the panel discussions underscored the necessity for innovative tools and instruments that facilitate peace co-benefits within climate adaptation programs and highlighted practical ways these tools can be integrated to foster environmental resilience.

Below, we highlight some of the exciting insights gleaned from an esteemed panel of experts.

On the CSST and its ability to mitigate maladaptation risks

The CGIAR Climate Security Sensitivity Tool (CSST) serves as a valuable resource for assessing the peace-enhancing potential of climate adaptation. Central to this tool is the identification and mitigation of maladaptation risks. The tool prioritizes adaptation components to address pre-existing insecurity factors, achieving this by defining local conflict drivers through data, assessing crisis risk factors, and proposing tailored adaptation mechanisms.

Maladaptation, defined as the process where improperly constructed adaptation strategies heighten vulnerability, manifests when climate initiatives adversely impact the vulnerabilities of other systems, sectors, or social groups. This can lead to outcomes such as power imbalances, symmetries, grievances, or resource competition, recognized as drivers of conflict within the CSST. These negative effects can exacerbate inequity and marginalization, intensifying risks of insecurity or climate-related challenges.

 The climate security sensitivity tool acknowledges the potential negative effects that inadequate interventions may have on those pre-existing insecurity factors. And it helps prioritize the adaptation components that can address them.” ~ Carolina Sarzana, Climate Security Specialist, Climate Adaptation Programming, Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT

On the CSST’s ability to enhance the peace potential of adaptation

The CSST is based on environmental peacebuilding theories which use resource-based disputes as opportunities to build cooperation and peace through the transformation of natural resource management strategies. Through the same logic, this tool defines ways through which climate adaptation can address conflict drivers, unify conflicting communities against shared climate insecurities and work towards substantial integration.

The CSST provides actionable recommendations for climate adaptation initiatives, guiding actors on key concerns in their targeted geographical areas. It aims to prevent tension and promote social cohesion by identifying programmatic dimensions based on contextual risk factors for conflict. The tool offers examples to achieve these dimensions in projects.

On effectively identifying and mitigating maladaptive practices within peacebuilding responses

There’s limited recognition of climate risks in fragile contexts. Many actors in fragile contexts do not prioritize climate risks, often viewing them as the responsibility of the climate and environment community. Efforts to achieve climate co-benefits are sometimes seen as separate components or afterthoughts.

Maladaptation risks emerge when climate resilience interventions are not based on integrated risk analysis and a thorough understanding of climate vulnerability at the local level. Relying on non-context-specific, exogenous solutions can contribute to this risk. To mitigate the risks associated with adaptation actions, it is important to integrate climate-induced vulnerability into conflict analysis.

Humanitarian actors have already started integrating climate resilience within their approaches and operations, often ahead of the donor community. They are working on the frontline, they see how climate change and environmental degradation are challenging people’s resilience, they also see governments and partners failing to lead on climate action. So they have no choice but bridge the gap. ~ Mana Farooghi, Regional Climate & Environment Adviser, Sahel Department, UK FCDO

On the role of inclusive strategies and community engagement in identifying and mitigating maladaptive practices and promoting climate resilience

When discussing fragility in local communities, it transcends a neat categorization and becomes intricately tied to cultural issues, for example, cultural raiding in the Karamoja cluster along the borders between Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan, and Sudan. Project design becomes crucial, as exemplified by a conflict early warning mechanism where a water project intended to benefit one community inadvertently caused conflict due to oversight on water-related disputes.

We need to expand traditional mandates to incorporate considerations beyond climate and agriculture. Inclusivity and community engagement play a vital role in identifying and mitigating maladaptive practices by ensuring a comprehensive understanding of the local context, including conflict dynamics, migration patterns, and land rights. This approach is essential for promoting climate resilience that aligns with the unique challenges and complexities of each community.

On innovative approaches to enhance the peace-responsive nature of programmatic interventions addressing climate-related challenges

Integrating and layering programming more effectively i.e. incorporating programs such as social protection, school feeding, in a targeted manner within specific geographical areas can yield impactful results. Additionally, engaging with partners who contribute expertise in peace-building and social cohesion enhances the overall effectiveness of climate resilience and security programming.

Partnering with institutions with capacities for climate risk analysis to identify climate risks, potential pathways to conflict, and highlight the significance of livelihood strategies in increasing food security and building resilience to climate impacts. 

On how peace contributing tools facilitate more inclusive and effective climate initiatives

Presently, it is hard to address extreme conflict and climatic events when numerous organizations are involved, each with distinct mandates in humanitarian, research, climate, conflict, and peacebuilding domains. How do we unite these entities, comprehend risks collaboratively, and respond without making their climate interventions maladaptive? Considering that climate experts and peace experts may not share the same expertise, creating a space for diverse perspectives to converge is essential.

Complexities arise from understanding the multifaceted vulnerabilities at the local level — whether driven by climate, conflict, or poverty. Despite recognizing the existence of poly risks, siloed perspectives hinder a seamless adoption of tools like the CSST. The CSST serves as a collaborative platform to bring diverse stakeholders to the table, fostering coordination in an unfamiliar system and guiding them to draft solutions in areas where they lack expertise.

On key strategies to ensure climate adaptation initiatives address environmental concerns and contribute to peace, stability, and social cohesion

Developing context-specific climate adaptation projects that are tailored to local dynamics and issues. This involves consulting beneficiaries’ needs before implementation and considering input from both high-level and grassroots actors in program development and project design.

Close collaboration of development finance institutions and development actors with civil society actors. Establishing strong ties with community-based organizations is crucial because they possess valuable insights into the on-the-ground impact of climate change. Additionally, creating a community of practice involving these actors enhances knowledge cross-share.


Watch the webinar here or listen to the podcast here.

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