REPORT RELEASE: The Nexus of Climate Change, Ecological Disruption, Stability, and Security

By Andrea Rezzonico

Last week, the Climate and Land Use Alliance launched Climate and Forests 2030, a program aimed at mobilizing finance at scale to help realize the potential of forests to mitigate climate change, benefit people, and protect biodiversity.

CSR contributed a report to this effort titled “The Nexus of Climate Change, Ecological Disruption, Stability, and Security,” which was authored by experts from each of CSR’s three institutes: The Center for Climate and Security, The Converging Risks Lab, and the Nolan Center. This work is a part of CSR’s greater mission to address these converging risks under its newly expanded Ecological Security Program, an initiative of the Converging Risks Lab.

The report examines how climate change and ecological degradation, particularly deforestation and poor land use practices, intersect to undermine security and create instability. It analyzes how this nexus affects security in four categories: the intra-state, inter-state, and non-state actor levels, as well as looking at Indigenous and vulnerable populations through a lens of justice and equity. It then offers concrete recommendations aimed at both managing existing risks and preventing catastrophic risks in the long term. 

Recommendations highlighted in the report include:

  • Scholars and stakeholders need to continue to study this nexus and its security implications in further depth to deepen understanding of the causal pathways to insecurity, potential feedback loops, policy implications, and potential solutions.
  • High-level security organizations such as the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and others need to incorporate, discuss, and address ecology as a security issue in its own right by 2030.
  • New diplomatic and information sharing channels should be aimed at relieving tensions between states driven by resource-stress issues. Initial steps could include technical exchanges to facilitate data sharing.
  • The use of robust early warning systems for states and regions – spearheaded by multilateral institutions and/or regional entities. These systems could help detect microbial migration and disease outbreak trends, which can help significantly relieve public health infrastructure stresses. 
  • The international community should more fully integrate an ecological security lens into

existing conflict prevention and peace-building mechanisms, to ensure that the issues discussed in this report are addressed when developing local interventions in at-risk states.

  • As corrupt practices play a significant role in ecological degradation and civilian trust in government institutions, interventions must be aimed at promoting good governance and preconditioning aid on the adoption of robust anti-corruption measures. 
  • States and the international community should develop innovative mechanisms to integrate the protection of forests and strategic ecological areas into counter-narcotics and counter-extremism campaigns. 

As the authors state, stakeholders across all sectors and regions need to come together to take swift and decisive action, including by rapidly increasing funding. Unfortunately, the window to address many of these security challenges brought about by deforestation, ecological devastation, climate change, and existing and emerging biological threats is rapidly closing. This means that governmental and nongovernmental entities must race against the clock to ameliorate existing and future security challenges at this nexus. The best plans remain just that — plans — without financial support. Climate, land-use, and biofocused philanthropic organizations and private actors, including corporations, must engage with non-traditional stakeholders, such as security actors, in order to move the agenda forward. 

Read the full report here. 


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