Vienna Dialogue on Climate and Security - www.kas.de
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The linkages between climate and international security have reached a risk level that requires the attention of all states. Global warming, wildfires, flash floods, erosion, desertification and many more natural disasters have shown how important it is to address the issue from all governmental and societal sides.
Climate change affects people’s security, both nationally and internationally. Politically, the United Nations retain the global lead on political discussions about climate change and mitigating measures. At the same time, other organizations, such as the OSCE, have an important regional role in this endeavor. The OSCE is in particular well placed to take the discussions forward as it addresses security in a very comprehensive way. Global warming and the inherent security implications should be one more topic in the list of security topics that the OSCE already has on its agenda.
Severe weather conditions affect security in several ways. Changing climate conditions, resulting, for example, in more droughts and hurricanes, are hazards in themselves. Additionally, their effect on agricultural resources immediately impacts food security and might, on the long-run, push people to migrate. The same applies to natural water reservoirs. Subsequent competition over natural resources within and between states and regions can pose a security risk. Furthermore, climate-related incidents can impact on critical infrastructure, e.g. on energy or on military installations.
All OSCE participating States and regions are concerned by the inherent challenges that climate change causes globally. It has an impact on the environment, on the economy, on societies and, not least, on the internal and external security of states. As early as 2007, the OSCE’s participating States have declared that the OSCE had “a complementary role to play within its mandate in addressing the climate change challenge in its specific region” to support the United Nations in their global efforts. In more details, and with regard to disaster risk reduction, the OSCE’s Ministerial Council Decision 6/2014 emphasized “the exacerbating effect climate change may have on the frequency and magnitude of disasters” and further encouraged the participating States to “develop, co-ordinate and implement disaster risk reduction measures with climate change adaptation and mitigation plans at all appropriate levels.”
Addressing the climate-induced security challenges requires greater multilateral dialogue and co-operation. To support this, the Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation initiated the series “Vienna Dialogue on Climate and Security”. The aim of the Dialogue Forum is to provide space where climate-related effects on security in the OSCE region can be openly discussed in a new format.
The Dialogue Forum allows subject matter experts, key practitioners, and other relevant stakeholders to present their findings and scientific forecast to political decision-makers. This could support participating States to bring the topic forward in existing OSCE fora. Therefore, key addressees are OSCE-Delegations, including those from the Mediterranean Partners for Co-operation, the OSCE-Secretariat, and representatives of other international organizations.
Format and outcome
During the Dialogue Forum, subject matter experts provided an overview of regional effects of climate change. This was followed by a discussion and exchange between participants about their perceptions and on which measures would best address climate change in the OSCE region. The discussions, which were held under Chatham House Rules, encouraged participants to share their views regarding the options to counter climate change and related security issues.
Initial findings of the discussions allowed to explore the scope for engagement and possibly joint action to address the climate change implications on security. These could fall into one or more of the three dimensions that the OSCE clusters its work around. Namely, into the first dimension which addresses political/military issues with a view to conflict prevention and peacebuilding. Or, the second dimension which addresses economic and environmental issues, including energy security. Or, the third dimension which addresses human aspects. Options could also be found in cross-dimensional topics, such as gender, migration, education or youth. At the same time, the discussions offered to explore new approaches which covered topics such as agriculture or public health. Last but not least, the dialogues aimed to identify opportunities to engage in capacity-building of relevant institutions and international stakeholders.
The Multilateral Dialogue KAS Vienna would like to thank all participants, partners and experts who contributed to the Dialogue Forum and is looking forward to more events in the near future.
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