Climate change has and will continue to have both direct and indirect effects around the world. Changes in water will be one of the most visible direct effects, whether it is too little water, such as during prolonged droughts; too much, such as flooding caused by sea-level rise or tropical storms; or misaligned timing, such as when seasonal rains are early or late. Across numerous societies, the climate change-water interaction will be disruptive, but through mitigation and adaptation actions, this interaction can at least be ameliorated. However, these disruptions will also have significant security implications locally, regionally, and globally depending on their intensity, spatial extent, and longevity, and due to their disproportionate effects on different segments of societies. This deteriorating security environment is very likely to increase the vulnerability of affected populations, enhance inequities, and interfere with mitigation and adaptation actions, which will prolong instability. Thus, any security analysis must integrate the effects of climate change on water, and its attendant effects on the vulnerability of populations, to capture a true picture of the security environment. Resources like the newly-released World Water Development Report (WWDR), titled “Water and Climate Change,” should therefore be taken very seriously by the security community.
Over the past decade, understanding of the relationship between natural disasters, climate change and conflict has increased significantly. The Center for Climate and Security has been exploring case studies of this relationship since 2012, and four years ago, a major study of global datasets found that the “risk of armed-conflict outbreak is enhanced by climate-related disaster occurrence in ethnically fractionalized countries.”
The most recent addition to this growing body of literature is Tobias Ide and his colleagues (2020), who have presented the first multi-method study of climate-related disasters and conflict. They investigate the nature of the pathways connecting these disasters to conflict, as well as the contextual factors. Overall, the authors find that there is “an increased risk of armed conflict onset immediately after climate related disasters.” That’s a significant finding, though the relationship is not a generic one.
Today’s international security and governance architecture was born of the post-World War II period, when a conflict-weary world sought to prevent another clash of nation-state alliances drawn into battle by the expansionist actions of a few. Yet many modern security challenges do not fit neatly into postwar constructs, arguesRachel Fleishman of the Center for Climate and Security. Pandemics, mass migration and environmental degradation – and, most prominently, climate change – defy national borders and the world must prepare for concerted, coordinated action to prevent predictable cross-border threats.
Contact: Francesco Femia, ffemia at csrisks dot org
THE INTERNATIONAL MILITARY COUNCIL ON CLIMATE AND SECURITY OFFERS EXPERTISE ON HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE AND DISASTER RELIEF TO ASSIST DURING COVID-19 CRISIS
The International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS) is a group of senior military leaders, security experts, and security institutions across the globe dedicated to anticipating, analyzing, and addressing the security risks of a changing climate. Many in this network have significant experience and expertise in planning and executing Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HA/DR) missions, including in the face of naturally-occurring disasters.
In this context, the IMCCS Leadership feels it is its duty to offer advice and expertise to assist, in some small way, with management of the ongoing COVID-19 threat. The IMCCS Leadership and Participants below are available to receive inquiries from the media and the public (this list will be regularly updated).
IMCCS experts available for inquiries
The Honorable Sherri Goodman, Secretary General, the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS), Senior Strategist, the Center for Climate and Security
Experienced leader in crisis preparedness and response; deep knowledge of environmental, climate and energy threat multipliers including expanding disease vectors; formerly responsible for oversight of the Armed Forces Pest Management Board – military epidemiologists tracking global disease vectors. Formerly the US Deputy Undersecretary of Defense (Environmental Security).
General Tom Middendorp, Chair, International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS), former Chief of Defence of the Netherlands (Ret)
Experienced leader in multinational crisis management operations around the world from the tactical to the operational level as a taskforce commander, as the National Director of Operations and as the Chief of Defense; experience in disaster relief operations in The Carribbean; deep knowledge on root causes of conflict and Climate Change as a risk multiplier; Fellow at the Clingendael Research Institute and Strategic Adviser at the Hague Center for Strategic Studies on Climate & Security; involved in several innovations of green technologies.
Vice Admiral Ben Bekkering, Royal Netherlands Navy (Ret), Participant, the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS)
Planned and executed Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HA/DR) operations from the sea, both in command of ships and seagoing staffs, in east and West Africa and the Caribbean. Involved in strategic development of HA/DR within international organizations such as NATO and the EU.
Laura Birkman, Senior Strategic Analyst, the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS)
From 2014-2019, Laura was the lead senior and principal consultant responsible for crisis management and disaster risk reduction at Ecorys, an international research consulting firm. In this role she was responsible for the acquisition and implementation of a number of large EU projects.
Captain Steve Brock, US Navy (Ret), Chief of Staff, the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS), Senior Advisor, the Council on Strategic Risks
Extensive experience in the identification, planning and execution of multiple HA/DR missions forward deployed at the operational and staff levels as well as at the national policy level at the Pentagon and White House National Security Council.
Colonel Daniel Ruiz Lopez, PhD, Spanish Army (Ret), Participant, the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS).
Researcher in Peace Studies at the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna di Pisa, focusing on civilization collapse in the Anthropocene. Former Director at United Nations field missions in the political, humanitarian and development fields in the Balkans, Middle East, Central Asia, Africa and the Caribbean for more than 20 years. Experience in the management of the Ebola crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn, US Navy (Ret), Advisory Board, The Center for Climate and Security (CCS), Senior Member of the Executive Committee, the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS)
Appointed and served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy, Installations and Environment from September 2013 until January 2017. Previously, he served on active duty in the United States Navy for 35 years as a naval aviator, test pilot, aircraft carrier commanding officer, and national security strategist. During his capstone assignment as Commander of the United States Third Fleet he sponsored the development of command, control and communications protocols for international disaster relief and humanitarian assistance operations in the first Strong Angel Battle Experiment.
Michel Rademaker, Senior Member of the Executive Committee, the International Military Council on Climate and Security, Co-founder and Deputy Director, the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS)
Michel has 15 years of hands-on experience as an officer in The Royal Netherlands Army, where he held various military operational and staff posts and also served a term in former Yugoslavia. His fields of expertise include security strategy, policy, concepts and doctrines, technology assessments, geopolitical and economic security implications of climate change, raw materials and energy supply and serious gaming techniques. He has worked extensively on big data analytics and is experienced in building interactive monitors and dashboards.
Paul Sinning, Executive Director, the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS)
Paul specializes in crisis management. After graduating from the Dutch police academy in 1985, he started his career in the police force in Amsterdam. As a police officer he was responsible for several criminal investigation units. His areas of expertise include strategy, organizational development and complex collaboration issues between organizations responsible for security. He has written several articles and books on the topic of crisis management.
Rob de Wijk, founder of the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS) and Professor of International Relations and Security at the Institute of Security and Global Affairs at Leiden University.
Rob studied Contemporary History and International Relations at Groningen University, and wrote his PhD dissertation on NATO’s ‘Flexibility in Response’ strategy at the Political Science Department of Leiden University. He has written several articles and books on the topic of crisis management, and is currently advising the Dutch government, private corporations and the media about the COVID-19 crisis.
Contact: Francesco Femia, ffemia at csrisks dot org
“How is Canada preparing to address the environmental impacts on security?” That was the question debated in a packed auditorium at the Canadian Forces College (CFC) on 12 February, 2020. The “Freedom from Want and Freedom from Fear” Symposium hosted by the Canadian Forces College (Toronto, Canada) was organized by the College’s Department of Innovative Studies and aimed to sensitize participating students, both Canadian and international (to include audiences tuning in from the United Nations, and the Baltic Defence College) on the security implications of climate change. The expert opinions provided by both Canadian and American national security advisors and analysts, to include Center for Climate and Security Fellows Captain Steve Brock and Lieutenant Commander Oliver-Leighton Barrett (both US Navy, retired), helped to frame, and imbue an enhanced understanding of, how Canada’s national and human security imperatives fit into the climate change discourse.
Climate change has never been very prominent at the Munich Security Conference (MSC), a leading forum for senior military, security and foreign policy leaders. That changed this year, with the release of the “World Climate and Security Report 2020” by the Expert Group of the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS). The report featured prominently on the MSC stage – at the opening “Hashtag Event” on February 13 and in a later event on the Main Stage on February 15 – which even featured strong U.S. bipartisan support for comprehensive policies combating climate change. These events included powerful contributions from General Tom Middendorp, Chair of the IMCCS, and former Chief of Defence of the Netherlands. These were reinforced by other IMCCS voices during the World Climate and Security Report 2020 side event on February 15, in the media, and by senior defense leaders and IMCCS staff in Luxembourg. Below is a description of the key climate security events during this extraordinary three days – three days of climate change being elevated, as it should be, to some of the highest levels of the international security discourse. The next step will be translating this discourse into actions that are commensurate to the threat.
Munich, Germany, February 13, 2020 — This year climate change is more central than ever at the Munich Security Conference (MSC), the leading international forum for senior military, security and foreign policy leaders, with the release of the inaugural “World Climate and Security Report 2020” by the Expert Group of the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS). The release will be announced by General (Ret) Tom Middendorp, Chair of the IMCCS, at the conference’s “Apocalypse Now? – Climate and Security” opening event at 16:15pm CET on February 13 (open to the public), followed by an MSC event on the report at 16:00pm CET on February 15 (open to registered MSC participants). The IMCCS is a group of senior military leaders, security experts, and security institutions across the globe – currently from 32 countries in every hemisphere – dedicated to anticipating, analyzing, and addressing the security risks of a changing climate.
The report finds that security and military experts are increasingly concerned about the security implications of climate change, with many perceiving the risks to global security to be significant or higher in the next two decades, and recommends “climate-proofing” international security – including infrastructure, institutions and policies – as well as major emissions reductions to avoid significant-to-catastrophic security threats.
In highlighting the key findings of the report, and the rationale for releasing it at the MSC, General Middendorp, former Chief of Defence of the Netherlands, stated:
“Climate change poses significant risks to global security, which could become catastrophic in the next two decades. As this report, and the 32-country International Military Council on Climate and Security shows, more and more military leaders are raising this alarm. It’s not just environmentalists. The security community therefore has a responsibility to prepare for and prevent these threats, including through climate-proofing international security at all levels. That’s why we’ve brought the World Climate and Security Report to the Munich Security Conference.” – General (Ret) Tom Middendorp, Chair, IMCCS
On January 25, New Zealand’s Minister of Defence Ron Mark, and a team of senior defense leaders including the New Zealand Secretary of Defence and Chief of the Navy, met with the Center for Climate and Security’s and Council on Strategic Risks’ leadership to discuss the security and military implications of climate change, and what the United States and New Zealand can learn from each other. This was part of NZ Defence Minister Ron Mark’s visit to Washington, DC that included meeting with his counterpart, U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper. See the press release here. Click here for more on recent climate security actions by the New Zealand Ministry of Defence, and here for equivalent information on the U.S. Department of Defense.