The climate crisis is precipitating catastrophic impacts around the world. As the IPCC has underlined with increasing precision and urgency, the climate crisis undermines human security and critical aspects of human civilization everywhere, endangering access to food and water as well as aggravating health and disaster risks. Ultimately, these impacts also undermine peace and stability. Nowhere more so than in fragile regions where capacity is weak and governance contested and which are often simultaneously among the most vulnerable to climate change. Therefore, we must intensify our collective efforts to contain and reverse the climate crisis while immediately enhancing support for those most affected and doing whatever it takes to prevent the destabilizing impacts of unavoidable climate change from resulting in violence and instability.
It was in view of this existential challenge that the 2022 Berlin Climate and Security Conference (BCSC) took place to discuss how to weather the risks resulting from the interaction of climate and conflict pressures, and to put together a progressive agenda for proactively scaling up national and global responses. This agenda builds on the Climate, Environment, Peace and Security Declaration that has been endorsed by over 20 governments. It spells out the principles that should henceforth define our foreign and domestic policies:
- aligning our actions with the constraints that the planetary boundaries imply, and especially with the need to limit global temperature increase to 1.5 °C
- supporting those states and regions where stability and peace are affected most by climate- and environment-related risks;
- improving resilience and adaptation by ensuring that all our policies and practices are inclusive, climate-, context- and conflict-sensitive, gender-responsive, and tailored to local conditions and stakeholder needs while keeping in mind that the international community has postulated a human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment.
We urgently need to address the climate crisis as the fundamental risk of our times through ambitious GHG-mitigation targets and polices as well as through peace, development, security policies and conflict-sensitive adaptation.
Building on the principles embedded in this declaration as well as initial progress on climate and security at national and multinational levels, BCSC participants committed to further raising their ambition, whether as UN member states, international and regional institutions, or non-governmental actors. Participating countries supporting the Climate for Peace Initiative (#Climate4Peace) committed to enhancing projects on the ground – such as the Global Shield, Powering Peace through Climate Action, solar energy in refugee camps in the Sahel or Weathering Risk and its Peace Pillar. Moreover, participants also committed to advancing global dialogue, norms and implementation of policy dimensions that are particularly relevant for the nexus between climate, environment, peace and security. Examples reach from early warning and inclusion of climate indicators in conflict prediction and prevention, enhancing climate related disaster risk reduction and strengthening anticipatory action especially with respect to humanitarian assistance, to preventing and managing climate induced displacement and achieving progress in international law dealing with climate-related loss of territory and changes in sea borders. Many of these activities aim at advancing policy-making related to minimizing, averting and addressing losses and damages.
The 2022 BCSC connected important initiatives in the climate security space on their way to COP27 and beyond, facilitating deliberation across and between governmental and civil society stakeholders from around the globe. This included discussions with the Climate Security Expert Network, the Climate Security Mechanism, CCCPA with its initiative Climate Responses for Sustaining Peace, the Planetary Security Initiative, Weathering Risk partners and over 20 governments supporting the Climate for Peace Initiative. BCSC participants welcomed the progress made by key international actors such as the UN, the World Food Program, the OSCE, NATO and the African Union and saw them exchange on their progress and challenges, preparing next steps. Conference sessions discussed for example lessons learned from the mediators in the Weathering Risk Peace Pillar; the OSCE’s dialogues in South-Eastern Europe, the South Caucasus and Central Asia; the World Food Programme’s efforts to integrate climate security risks into food system support in East Africa; the PREVIEW project; and NATO’s efforts to systematically integrate climate change into its thinking.
In line with efforts by Germany and a growing group of like-minded countries to promote a Feminist (Climate) Foreign Policy, BCSC showed the importance of the active implementation of all UN member states of the 66. Commission on the Status of Women (CSW66), in order to strengthen the protection of girls and women and their role in combating the climate crisis.
The conference demonstrated again the urgency to increase ambition on mitigation, finance, adaptation and action against loss and damage at COP27. Greater action in each of these areas will assist in creating better conditions for peace and security. BCSC demonstrated the importance of ambitious action in different policy fields and how much promise there is in greater integration across climate, economic and development policies, peacebuilding and humanitarian assistance. Together with our partners, Germany wants to channel this agenda for action in support of an ambitious and successful COP27.