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Climate security in the Indo-Pacific: a systematic review of governance challenges for enhancing regional climate resilience


Climate security is a burgeoning focus of the multidisciplinary literatures investigating the impacts from climate change. This research theme has gained prominence due to the realisation that climatic changes will likely compromise human welfare and community stability, with significant implications for governments’ security agendas. The Indo-Pacific region is an important case study for understanding climate security given its ongoing environmental and developmental challenges and the cultural, political and economic tensions existing within and between neighbouring countries. This paper presents a systematic review and synthesis of academic and “grey” literatures that address climate adaptation, disaster management or regional security in the Indo-Pacific. From this review, we identify four key themes that arise prominently in discussion and analysis prepared by academic scholars, governments and non-government organisations alike. The ubiquity of these themes speaks to the interdependent nature of the adaptation, disaster management and security challenges. The literature is in agreement that maintaining and enhancing climate security in the Indo-Pacific will depend on the region’s capacity to strategically coordinate between the activities of governments, industry and communities; the willingness of governments to meaningfully cooperate with communities and each other despite existing tensions; governments’ ability to manage limited resources efficiently; and their capacity to identify and address climate-maladaptive path dependencies. We highlight the most popular prescriptions for addressing these concurrent challenges at the current time. We argue that these prescriptions warrant further research and will likely have broader applicability for addressing climate security challenges in other regions of the world.

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Data availability

Available on request.

Code availability

Data compiled through Endnote X9.2 and NVivo12 proprietary software.


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The authors wish to thank the Australian Department of Defence’s Strategic Policy Division for their support of this research and Shani Burdon at the Climate and Sustainability Policy Research (CASPR) Centre at the Flinders University for her administrative support.


The research described in this paper was funded by the Australian Federal Government, Department of Defence.

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Tangney, Peter: Undertook an equal share of the research described and wrote the bulk of the manuscript text.

Nettle, Claire: Undertook an equal share of the research described and wrote a first draft of the section entitled Review Protocols and Analysis.

Clarke, Beverley: Undertook an equal share of the research described and provided amendments to the draft manuscript.

Newman, Joshua: Undertook an equal share of the research described and provided amendments to the draft manuscript.

Star, Cassandra: Undertook an equal share of the research described.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Peter Tangney.

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Tangney, P., Nettle, C., Clarke, B. et al. Climate security in the Indo-Pacific: a systematic review of governance challenges for enhancing regional climate resilience. Climatic Change 167, 40 (2021).

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  • Climate security
  • Indo-Pacific
  • Climate change
  • Resilience
  • Governance