UN Security Council Acknowledges Climate-Security Nexus in West Africa
The United Nations Security Council (UNSC)’s formal recognition last year of the link from climate-induced drought and desertification to terrorism and organized crime could help mobilize a durable peace in West Africa and across the Sahel, Climate Home News reports.
The UN statement is “a significant and positive step” that “points to an emerging coherence in how the UNSC recognizes the roots causes of threats to peace and security,” said Janani Vivekananda, climate change and security expert at the Adelphi environment and development consultancy.
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In 2017, a Security Council resolution linked “the dramatic shrinking of Lake Chad to the rise of Boko Haram and other armed groups in the region,” Climate Home notes. With the new, broader statement, that episode will no longer “be seen as the standalone example of climate security recognized by the UNSC.”
Even so, Lake Chad “remains one of the starkest examples of how climate change impacts can create fertile conditions for terrorism and organized crime,” CHN adds. “The lake’s area has reduced by 90% in four decades, due to reduced rainfall and growth in water demand as the basin’s population boomed to 17 million.”
Local communities and activists have long been aware of the link between climate-induced resource depletion and conflict. “Everybody knows that [a lack of] rain is impacting crops, and crops is food security,” Chadian community advocate Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim told the World Economic Forum a few weeks ago. “The consequence is conflict between communities…Boko Haram is the famous one,” but “how about the local and regional conflict between farmers, fishermen, and pastoralists for resources? People are dying.”
Vivekananda expressed hope that the recent UNSC statement will “feed into humanitarian and peacebuilding action on the ground,” adding that “there could be much stronger efforts to ensure all funds and programs implemented are both conflict-sensitive and climate-sensitive.”
The UN statement expresses explicit support for “the regional initiative spearheaded by President Buhari of Nigeria to revitalize the ecosystem of the Lake Chad Basin to support sustainable livelihoods, security, as well as development in the region.” Later this month, Climate Home notes,Buhari will host a meeting aimed at learning how to rebuild the connection between a healthy ecosystem and a secure and thriving people.