Monday, 28 May 2012


With scientists predicting that land and water resources will gradually become more scarce in the coming years, and that global warming may irreversibly alter the face of the planet, the United Nations Security Council today held its first-ever debate on the impact of climate change on security, as some delegates raised doubts over whether the Council was the proper forum to discuss the issue.

The day-long meeting, called by the United Kingdom, aimed to examine the relationship between energy, security and climate, and featured interventions from more than 50 delegations, representing imperilled island nations and industrialized greenhouse gas emitters alike.  While some speakers praised the initiative, there were reservations from developing countries, which saw climate change as a socio-economic development issue to be dealt with by the more widely representative General Assembly.  Many delegations also called for the United Nations to urgently consider convening a global summit on the issue.


Transnational crime, pandemics, and climate change were three defining challenges, and as the nature of such threats continued to evolve, the Security Council — so central to our ability to keep the peace — must also keep pace, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the Council today as it addressed new challenges to international peace and security and conflict prevention.

He said that although none of the three were new, they were increasingly transnational, increasingly acute, and had ever greater implications for human, State, regional and international security.  There was an increasing convergence between organized crime and terrorist groups.  Climate change had aggravated conflict over scarce land and could well trigger large-scale migration.  Rising sea levels put at risk the very survival of small island States.

No country and no region, no matter how powerful, would be able to address those threats alone, he said.  The complex and multilayered threats required multidisciplinary responses.  The United Nations was well-placed to promote an integrated mix of political, developmental and capacity-building responses.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

SANSaC Roundtable Maldives - TV Report by MNBC One

Report by Maldives National Broadcasting Cooperation, MNBC
on 1st December 2011

“Regional Collaboration is Crucial to Key Developments in Security Risks Caused by Climate Change Affects,” Vice President

Vice President Dr. Waheed, Maldives
Male' - Maldives - Vice President Dr. Mohamed Waheed has said that regional collaboration is crucial to key developments in security risks related to adverse and unusual affects caused by climate change within the South Asian region. The Vice President made this statement while speaking at “Security Implications of Climate Change” held by South Asia Network for Security and Climate Change (SANSaC) at Trader’s Hotel, this morning.

During his speech, the Vice President stated that the adverse affects of climate change is a threat not only to the individual country, but contributively to the whole South Asian region. The Vice President further said that climate change continues to threaten the vulnerability of the Maldives and that regional cooperation was required for the survival of small island states. In particular, the Vice President emphasized on problematic areas of coastal area destruction and the limitation of fresh water and water resources faced by island nations.

Roundtable in Male’ highlights implications of climate change for regional and national security, ahead of high level talks at CoP 17 in Durban

Session chaired by Mr Ahmed Shafeeq Moosa

Traders Hotel, Male', Maldives

Stories of the citizens from the disappearing islands of the Maldives, flood-affected communities in the Sundarbans of Bangladesh and the drought affected communities in the water scarce hills of Nepal, all in their own ways struggling to cope with the impacts of climate change, are increasingly permeating mainstream consciousness within those countries whose carbon intensive development over the past 100 years has been contributing to these situations. At the same time, international donors from these developed countries are creating new aid funds in an attempt to help the vulnerable cope with the impacts of climate change we are already feeling.

Members briefing the Maldivian Vice President 
With the next round of high level global climate change talks starting in Durban this week, the high profile issues for agreement are about reducing carbon emissions and – more importantly for the affected communities – how much money the developed countries, who have the main responsibility for global warming, will put on the negotiating table to help people in poorer countries cope with the consequences. But these are not the only important issues.

The delegates from Pakistan, the Maldivian Vice President
One issue that is barely acknowledged is the heightened risk of political instability and conflict related to climate change. Factors linking climate change to an increased potential for instability and conflict include water scarcity, accelerated land degradation, increased food insecurity, and indeed the management of the climate funds themselves. The meeting of the South Asian Network on Security and Climate Change (SANSaC) in Male’ on the 1st December brought together experts from the climate change and security community to initiate a much needed regional dialogue on these issues.

The roundtable was organised in collaboration with the President’s Office of the Government of the Maldives and International Alert (an international peacebuilding organisation). The event was supported by the British High Commission in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

The roundtable in session
The dialogue was inaugurated by the Vice President of the Maldives, Dr. Mohamed Waheed, who will lead the Maldivian delegation to CoP 17 in Durban. SANSaC members from the Bangladesh Institute for Peace and Security Studies, the National Centre for Competence in Research in Nepal, the University of Karachi in Pakistan, the Observer Research Foundation in India and International Alert also spoke at the event. Mr. Ahmed Shafeeq Moosa, the President’s Envoy for Science and Technology, outlined the Maldivian Climate Change policy and advocacy outreach. Significantly, the event also marked the establishment of the SANSaC Secretariat in Male’, with the full support of the Maldivian Government.

At the conclusion of the event SANSaC members issued a statement outlining key issues for advocacy during the high level talks at CoP 17 in Durban.

SANSaC Male’ Statement on Climate Change and Security

The South Asia Network of Climate Change and Security, having met in Male’ on the 1st of December 2011 to discuss opportunities and challenges related to climate change and security in South Asia, offer the following views to the Parties and Governments of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Acknowledging the heightened risk of political instability and conflict related to climate change;

Noting that the factors linking climate change to an increased potential for instability and conflict include water scarcity, accelerated land degradation, increased food insecurity and the management of climate funds;

Believing that enhancing trust, cooperation and coordination amongst key South Asian stakeholders on climate change related security issues can also be a step towards greater trust and cooperation on other conflict issues;

The South Asia Network for Climate Change and Security therefore:

1. Calls on governments to facilitate ‘decentralised water diplomacy’ that involves a broader group of stakeholders at local level, and particularly across the region.

2. Calls on governments and international institutions to better understand the dynamics and diverse causal factors of climate related migration, to promote timely, peace positive governance of rural-urban and trans-boundary migration.

3. Calls on governments to take leadership on improving rural and urban food security, in particular to ensure climate sensitive food production, equitable distribution and sustainable consumption.

1. Major General Muniruzzaman, President, Bangladesh Institute for Peace and Security Studies.
2. Mr. Ahmed Shafeeq Moosa, President’s Envoy for Science and Technology, Government of the Maldives.
3. Dr. Bishnu Upreti, South Asia Regional Coordinator, National Centre for Competence in Research, Nepal.
4. Dr. Moazzam Ali Khan, Director, Institute of Environmental Studies, University of Karachi, Pakistan.
5. Ms. Lydia Powell, Head, Centre for Resources Management, Observer Research Foundation, India.
6. Mr. Johann Rebert, Country Representative, International Alert, Sri Lanka.
7. Dr. Markus Mayer, South Asia Regional Programme Manager, International Alert.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Climate, Governance and Resilience Roundtable - September 2010

Shangri-La Hotel, Kathmandu, Nepal, 3 September 2010

International Alert along with the Delegation of the European Union to Nepal hosted a dialogue on climate change, security and governance. The meeting brought together national and regional experts from Nepal and from the South Asia Network on Security and Climate Change (SANSaC) to discuss processes to tackle the dual challenge of climate change and security at regional and national levels. This meeting, part of an ongoing process to foster critical debate on addressing the climate and security risks, was the third to take place in Nepal since 2007, and the fifth in the South Asia region.

Issues Discussed:

Accepting that international processes on climate change may not be sufficient to drive progress in the South Asia region, participants explored how inter-linked issues of climate change, governance and resilience can be addressed within existing national and regional processes, the opportunities, and possible pitfalls specific to South Asia. Climate change is not a new, discrete issue. It is an overlay on existing governance and human security challenges. The challenge is to understand what this means for development. The discussion explored these issues and raised some of the main challenges to effective responses to climate change in fragile contexts:

One major challenge in this area is the lack of empirical evidence to shed light on the interactions between climate change and security at the local level. Presentations were shared by Major General Muniruzzaman from the Bangladesh Institute for Peace and Security Studies, Dr Anirban Ganguly from The Energy and Resources Institute, India, Kiran Mahajan from Swiss National Center of Competence in Research (NCCR), Nepal, and Neera Padhan Shestha from ICIMOD. These presentations[1] highlighted the nature of some of the knock-on consequences of climate impacts and climate responses at a sub-national level, and flagged some of the possible trans-boundary aspects of these risks. Given the lack of donor financial support and attention to this area of research, empirical evidence and thus understanding is thin and there is little that goes beyond assumptions, hypotheses and the posing of relevant questions. Increased research, information sharing, and dialogue on this issue is thus an urgent priority.

It’s not solely climate change but poor governance responses to climate change which can be destabilising: In the wake of the devastating floods in Pakistan and also closer to home in Nepal, community tensions have been rising. These individual events cannot definitively be attributed to man-made climate change. But to see how climate change will play out in people’s daily lives, we needn't only look to the science. Instead, we must also look to the efficacy of local dispute resolution mechanisms, the enabling environment for andolans (people’s movements) and existing dimensions of livelihood insecurity. These are amongst the background factors which must be understood to see what happens when natural phenomena interact with unjust economic systems and weak governance structures. For example, in the Nepali Terai, local dissatisfaction towards the government’s responses to floods has been mobilized by competing political parties and manipulated by criminal gangs. The destabilising factor is not the floods per se, but the marginalisation and political economy which develops around flood responses.

Climate change funding and policy can do harm: We know from over forty years of development, that ill-conceived interventions in vulnerable communities can do harm. Therefore with the uncertainties in current climate change predictions, poorly planned and un-joined up approaches could not only set back development progress, but also could in some cases increase political tensions and the risk of violent conflict. By inadvertently reducing the resilience of some communities in an attempt to address another critical challenge faced by others, climate response efforts could in and of themselves pose a threat to peace. For example, efforts to reduce fossil fuel consumption through increased biofuel consumption has been linked to reduced food production, the hike in food prices in 2007 and 2008, and numerous violent clashes around the world. Similar challenges will arise when handling conflicting interests like the promotion of renewable energy through hydropower versus forest preservation and the rights of forest communities in India. Sufficient understanding of the knock-on consequences of any course of action is required to ensure these paths do not fuel violence or instability.

Whilst inappropriate responses to can increase the risk of conflict, positive responses to climate change can promote peace and cooperation. In Khabre, Nepal, in the absence of government assistance, endemic water scarcity was addressed through positive community management. Accepting that individual responses would not suffice, the local community coordinated a collective response by getting together to dig new wells for community use according to a community managed rota. Anecdotal evidence from the Terai also points to responses to climate change promoting tolerance and cooperation across a political manufactured ethnic divide. Growing tensions between Madhesi (people from the plains) and ‘Pahari’ (hill people) communities (which was being fuelled by political parties in the lead up to the 2008 elections) abated following the 2008 floods. The Madhesis felt that it was the financial assistance from the Pahari community from across Nepal rather than the Madhesi political party representatives - whom the Madhesi’s of the Terai had just elected into government – that helped them cope with the flood impacts. Positive responses to climate change have the potential to build social cohesion, peace and resilience. Where the government plays a positive role, this provides an opportunity to rebuild a potentially weak social contract between citizens and the state.

As well as knowledge gaps around these issues, there is also weak institutional capacity to address them in the relevant institutions. Science may not be able to tell us exactly what to do, but in the meantime, institutions need to be able to adapt and be flexible to variability and uncertainty. Social exclusion, weak governance and the ability of elite groups to capture resources intended for supporting adaptation to climate change are also significant obstacles to peaceful responses to climate risks. Many issues such as migration and river management cross state borders and cannot be dealt with at the state level alone. Yet South Asia lacks strong political leadership at a regional level to ensure effective use of resources and integrated approaches. These issues need to be met with appropriate institutional capacity – within donors, implementating agencies and local and national government, along with enhanced scope and capacity for regional analysis of trans-boundary issues and cross-border sharing of knowledge and experiences.


Climate change will not affect communities in a political and economic vacuum. Policy responses need to look beyond the specific environmental impacts, to also address the broader context of failures of governance. The challenge then is to identify the gaps and weak points in key institutions, mechanisms and processes responsible within fragile states and explore how to reform, reinforce or create them such that they can deal with changes in a peaceful manner, in spite of climate variability.

The discussion raised some important questions for further thought:

- How does climate change, variability and uncertainty affect governance and security at all levels?

- How do we ensure climate adaptation policies and financing mechanisms do no harm in fragile contexts?

- How can we avoid climate financing becoming a new resource for elite capture?

- How can we maximise the potential for climate responses to build social cohesion and peace?

Responses to these questions are critical to promote understanding of the complex inter-linkages between climate change and security implications and to address these links through appropriate policy response in South Asia.

The starting point is the strong and urgent need for support to promote:

Localised research at the sub-national level in the region,

Dialogue and capacity building to strengthen the knowledge and capacities of national governments and responsible institutions in the region,

Improved knowledge sharing across borders around current best practice and lessons learned.

Security and Resilience Roundtable, Kathmandu, 3rd September 2010: Participant’s list

Ajaya Dixit
Director, ISET-Nepal
Anil Pokrel
Consultant, ADB
Anirban Ganguly

SANSaC Representative: Heads of Forestry and Biodiversity Area under the Climate Change Division in TERI
Batu Krishna Upreti,

Joint Secretary, Climate Change Management Division, Ministry of Environment
Berend de Groot
Director Programme Operations, ICIMOD
Bhasker Kafle
International Alert
Chandini Thapa
International Alert
Deependra Joshi
Equal Access, Country Director
Giap Dang
Cooperation Head, EU Delegation to Nepal
Janani Vivekananda
International Alert
Jaypal Shrestha
Regional Environmental Affairs Specialist, Embassy of the United States of America
 Kiran Maharjan
SANSaC Representative: Swiss National Center of Competence in Research (NCCR)
Laura Seraydarian
Major General Muniruzzaman
SANSaC Representative: Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies
Marcus Moench
Director, ISET
Neera Shrestha Pradhan
Hazard and Community Adaptation Specialist, ICIMOD
Purushottam Ghimire
Joint Secretary, Country Director – NAPA, Ministry of Environment
Ranjan Shrestha
EU Delegation to Nepal
Rebecca Crozier
Country Manager, International Alert
Sadhana Ghimire Bhetuwal
International Alert
Simon Lucas
Climate Change and Inclusive Growth Adviser, DFID Nepal
Sylvia Lee
The World Bank Nepal Country Office
Vijay Khadgi
Network Officer, ICIMOD