Preparing the CSDP for the new security environment created by climate change

10-06-2021

While the European Union has developed a number of policy commitments and instruments to deal with the nexus between climate change and security, the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) has lagged behind. This study discusses the security implications of climate change in the EU Neighbourhood and makes recommendations concerning how the CSDP might integrate climate factors into its mission and deliverables. The CSDP will need to adopt a place-specific approach that foregrounds the distinctive social, political and economic dynamics through which climate factors makes themselves felt in different partner countries. The analysis looks in particular depth at the Sahel and the Horn of Africa as two regions where CSDP missions already operate or are likely to operate in the future. Countries in these regions are highly vulnerable to the interaction between a degraded environment and climate change impacts, raising the prospects of humanitarian crises due to food insecurity and internal instability due to competition for resources. These problems compound the EU’s prominent security concerns of terrorism and migration. The EU can move to climate-proof the CSDP through better conflict intelligence and foresight, carefully adapted and adequately resourced mandates, climate-change proofing investments in equipment and infrastructure, and better links to local social and institutional dynamics. The European Parliament should deploy its considerable political capital to support such initiatives, through resolutions, engagement with the UN and other inter-parliamentary fora, and efforts to garner political commitment from the Member States.

While the European Union has developed a number of policy commitments and instruments to deal with the nexus between climate change and security, the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) has lagged behind. This study discusses the security implications of climate change in the EU Neighbourhood and makes recommendations concerning how the CSDP might integrate climate factors into its mission and deliverables. The CSDP will need to adopt a place-specific approach that foregrounds the distinctive social, political and economic dynamics through which climate factors makes themselves felt in different partner countries. The analysis looks in particular depth at the Sahel and the Horn of Africa as two regions where CSDP missions already operate or are likely to operate in the future. Countries in these regions are highly vulnerable to the interaction between a degraded environment and climate change impacts, raising the prospects of humanitarian crises due to food insecurity and internal instability due to competition for resources. These problems compound the EU’s prominent security concerns of terrorism and migration. The EU can move to climate-proof the CSDP through better conflict intelligence and foresight, carefully adapted and adequately resourced mandates, climate-change proofing investments in equipment and infrastructure, and better links to local social and institutional dynamics. The European Parliament should deploy its considerable political capital to support such initiatives, through resolutions, engagement with the UN and other inter-parliamentary fora, and efforts to garner political commitment from the Member States.

Autor extern

•Christoph MEYER, Professor of Professor of European & International Politics, King’s College London •Francesca VANTAGGIATO, Lecturer in Public Policy, King’s College London, •Richard YOUNGS, Senior Fellow, Carnegie Europe and Professor of International Relations, University of Warwick