Hydro-climatic change, conflict and security

Abstract

Climate change is likely to increase the frequency and intensity of water-related hazards on human populations. This has generated security concerns and calls for urgent policy action. However, the simplified narrative that links climate change to security via water and violent conflict is wanting. First, it is not confirmed by empirical evidence. Second, it ignores the varied character and implications of hydro-climatic hazards, the multi-faceted nature of conflict and adaptive action, and crucial intricacies of security. Integrating for the first time research and findings from diverse disciplines, we provide a more nuanced picture of the climate-water-security nexus. We consider findings from the transboundary waters, armed conflict, vulnerability, and political ecology literatures and specify the implications and priorities for policy relevant research. Although the social effects of future hydro-climatic change cannot be safely predicted, there is a good understanding of the factors that aggravate risks to social wellbeing. To reduce vulnerability, pertinent democratic and social/civil security institutions should be strengthened where they exist, and promoted where they are still absent.

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Notes

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    Cooperation is understood here as positive, collaborative interactions in pursuit of common and individual benefit.

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Acknowledgments

Research for this article has benefited from the EC-funded FP7 SSH research project CLICO - Climate Change, Hydro-conflict and Human Security (contract number: 244443) and with conversations and exchange of ideas with project partners. We thank Naho Mirumachi for her constructive comments to a previous draft.

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Correspondence to Christos Zografos.

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This article is part of a Special Issue on “Climate and Security: Evidence, Emerging Risks, and a New Agenda” edited by François Gemenne, Neil Adger, Jon Barnett, and Geoff Dabelko.

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Kallis, G., Zografos, C. Hydro-climatic change, conflict and security. Climatic Change 123, 69–82 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-013-0893-2

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Keywords

  • Water Scarcity
  • Armed Conflict
  • Human Security
  • Violent Conflict
  • Transboundary Water