Focus areas

Climate Change

In recent years climate change has been recognized as a core development challenge that carries potentially serious implications for international peace and security. It has moved from being just an environmental problem and an energy challenge to being a matter of economic, social and political concern. Climate change will affect the geopolitical landscapes as it brings direct and indirect risks related to energy security, food security, human health, water resources, patterns of weather and agriculture as well as disruptions to global markets. Nation states' failure to successfully adapt to challenges such as floods, drought, coastal erosion, glacial melting and heat waves can result in disasters and societal instability. On the regional level, climate change will stress existing mechanisms for sharing resources like transboundary rivers and arable land.

     In South Eastern Europe, the adverse effects of climate change thus pose a serious
threat to the still weak transboundary collaboration and mutual confidence as well as to the sustainable development of the region. Resulting from the negative impacts of climate change, the major vulnerabilities are expected to include drinking water shortage, reduced agricultural productivity, increased health concerns, and decreased capacity of renewable energy generation. In Eastern Europe, water resources will be directly affected by climate change through changes in the hydrological cycle. In this region climate change is expected to impact particularly southern agricultural regions, which will cause economic downturn and social consequences. In South Caucasus, climate change models project decline in precipitation by the end of the century and suggest that South Caucasus will continue to become drier this century. The study also showed that water supply is likely to decrease in important transboundary basins. In some cases changes might be so dramatic that they can become serious impediment for security in the region. In Central Asia, climate change poses serious threats to environment, ecological and socio-economic systems. Increasing variability of precipitation coupled with above-average temperatures can exacerbate existing stress factors and probably lead to a reduction in overall water availability, which in turn could affect the agricultural and energy security in this region, which is already characterized by political and social tensions over access to water and energy resources.

Strengthening of policies, institutions and capacities is needed in all of the ENVSEC countries as weak governance often hampers adaptation efforts and long-term planning. An in-depth analysis of governance structures and state capacities, as well as political, institutional, economic contexts – including the neighborhood situation - will be needed to evaluate security impacts of climate change in the ENVSEC countries.

The objective for ENVSEC’s climate change and security work is to “Enhance capacities of countries in management of security risks resulting from climate change”.  The regionally based and inter-agency approach of ENVSEC is particulary well suited to address climate change and security-related challenges, which cut across borders and require multi-sectoral approach and enhanced transboundary cooperation. The ENVSEC partner organizations with their specialized and complementary mandates and expertise in environment, development, economics and security can jointly assist countries to adapt to the effects of climate change within a broader discussion context of environment, security, social and economic development. The key areas of ENVSEC assistance are:

  • Technical assistance to enhance knowledge base of climate change impacts and their interrelation with security: vulnerability assessments of climate change induced security impacts and identification of hotspots
  • Providing support to regional dialogue and cooperation: Information sharing and regional coordination through regional meetings and transboundary projects
  • Strengthening relevant policies, institutions and capacities on national and regional levels to address climate change risks and develop regional adaptation strategies
  • Facilitating risk communication and raising awareness on security impacts of climate change: information dissemination, establishment and support to knowledge networks

Useful links:

Regional Climate Change Impact Study for the Caucasus Region
This report represents the first cooperative study on the impacts of climate change and adaptation in the South Caucasus involving all three countries in the region - Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. It is an example of excellent cooperation of governments and experts.

Security Implications of Climate Change
This project aimed at developing scenarios for different OSCE regions in order to assess the impact of climate change on natural resources, energy and food availability, and their repercussions on security.

Climate Change in Eastern Europe 2011 (Russian)
The publication prepared by Zoi in cooperation with GRID-Arendal and the Environment and Security initiative explores the impacts of climate change on Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine.

Central Asian Multi-Country Programme on Climate Risk Management

Environment and Security in the Amu Darya basin (UNEP 2011)

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