A Climate of Conflict (Sida version)

A Climate of Conflict (Sida version)


Climate change is upon us and its physical effects have started to unfold. That is the broad scientific consensus expressed in the Fourth Assessment Review of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change. This report takes this finding as its starting point and looks at the social and human consequences that are likely to ensue – particularly the risks of conflict and instability.

Growing strains on ecosystems translate directly into national, regional and global security threats. Pollution, desertification, scarcity of fresh water, changing weather patterns resulting in floods, storms, etc, cause food insecurity and population displacements, which may lead to political instability and violent conflicts. These, in turn, risk setting back development by decades.

Two-thirds of the world’s population lives in countries that are at high risk of instability as a consequence of climate change. Many of the countries predicted to be worst affected by climate change are also affected, or threatened, by violent conflicts. The very poor are hit the hardest.

Climate change also impacts on regional and global economic patterns, with new risks for investors and corporations. Consequently, the need for social, environmental, political and economic stability must go hand in hand. Tackling the challenges of climate change must include a holistic perspective of state- and human security. Greater awareness and preparedness is needed on the part of organisations, businesses, public officials and state agencies. This timely and essential report not only outlines the challenges and risks, but also includes an important list of recommendations.

This report is an adapted version of International Alert’s report “A Climate of Conflict: The Links between Climate Change, Peace and War” (November 2007). International Alert has agreed to share this publication with Sida and consented to Sida amending the report with illustrations and boxes highlighting areas of Swedish priorities and initiatives.


Dan Smith, Janani Vivekananda
Sida - The information department and the division for peace and security
Place published
Date / journal vol no.
February 2008
64 pages