New Report: Climate Security in Mainland Southeast Asia: A Scenarios Based Assessment

By John Lichtefeld | Project managed by Brigitte Hugh | Edited by Francesco Femia

A new report from the Center for Climate and Security (CCS), Climate Security in Mainland Southeast Asia: A Scenarios Based Assessment, explores the socio-political, technological, demographic, diplomatic, military, and economic drivers that may shape the converging threats of climate change and national security in Mainland Southeast Asia. This paper posits four “climate security scenarios” built on expert input and identification of two key drivers of insecurity: state governance capacity and social and economic inequality.  

Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam are extremely vulnerable to climate change impacts owing to their geographic situation and natural characteristics, as well as their relatively heterogeneous levels of internal development and governing capacities. Regional populations are already experiencing the first order physical consequences of a changing climate, including an increased frequency of extreme weather events, higher mean temperatures, decreased weather predictability, and rising sea levels. 

Beyond these immediately observable consequences, an array of cascading second order effects is likely to emerge over the coming years, as the region’s inhabitants are forced to cope with unstable agricultural conditions, declining freshwater availability, and increasing energy costs. The future of Mainland Southeast Asia’s development, as well as its overall stability and security, will be determined in large part by the vulnerabilities and resilience of its constituent states, as well as the willingness of governments in the region to work together and with global partners to mitigate climate risks before consequences are imminent and unavoidable.

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