Special Coverage / Global 5 minutes

COP28: A Special Series

In the run-up to and during COP28, Crisis Group experts contribute their views on how climate change shapes the conflicts and crises they work on.

Two months after meeting at the UN General Assembly, world leaders will reconvene in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, for COP28. The conference will test whether delegates can bring the necessary focus on conflict- and climate-affected countries and the much-needed support to their adaptation efforts. Half of the countries most vulnerable to climate change also experience conflict, making climate adaptation in fragile states a critical bulwark to future climate and security risks. As political differences in the Security Council have impeded climate, peace and security conversations in New York, November’s forum in Dubai is an opportunity to build on initiatives that began in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, at COP27. COP 28 will for the first time feature a ‘Relief, Recovery and Peace Day’ - the first explicit discussion of peace and conflict at any COP and a pivotal moment in the global climate discourse.

Despite this growing attention, integrating conflict and the needs of fragile and conflict-affected states into the COP dialogue faces systemic constraints. As we published last year, countries experiencing conflict receive on average only half the financing for adaptation compared to those at peace. Nevertheless, it is crucial that leaders capitalise on the current momentum of having peace on the agenda for the first time and mainstream the climate-conflict nexus for successive COPs.The costs of inaction are perilous. As global warming persists unabated, climate change will further stoke food insecurity, displacement and exacerbate conflicts, necessitating expensive humanitarian and security interventions.

This series highlights Crisis Group’s innovative data-driven research on climate issues, emphasising opportunities to address technical and political barriers around climate financing and early warning, to empower those most vulnerable.

COMMENTARY | Crimes against the Climate: Violence and Deforestation in the Amazon

Organised crime has infiltrated the Amazon basin, seeking land for growing coca, rivers for drug trafficking and veins of gold underground. These groups are endangering the rainforest and the safety of those attempting to defend it. It is imperative that regional governments take protective measures.

Published 8 December 2023. Available here.

EVENT | Comfort Ero at COP28

On 3 December, Comfort Ero, Crisis Group’s CEO and president, joined other heads of governments, organisations, and financial institutions on the main stage of COP28 in Dubai, in a global call to scale up climate action in fragile and conflict-affected settings. The event featured the launch of the COP28 Declaration on Climate, Relief, Recovery and Peace, an initiative spearheaded by the UAE COP Presidency to seek transformative measures on the frontlines of the climate crisis. 

In her intervention, Comfort welcomed the declaration and elevation of conflict-affected states in the conference’s thematic program, which together mark an unprecedented step towards ensuring that climate action and finance reach those who are highly vulnerable to climate change and affected by fragility, conflict, or severe humanitarian needs. She reminded the audience of the harmful impact climate change can have in conflict zones, and stressed the need for decision-makers to better understand risks in order to prevent and mitigate outbreaks of climate-related violence.

Crisis Group will contribute to this effort through the ongoing development of a climate-security early warning system for the Horn of Africa, with a pilot scheduled for June 2024. The Environmental Early Action and Risk Tracking Hub (EEARTH) will identify early indications of deadly conflict stemming from climate shocks and encourage anticipatory action to head it off. In so doing, the system aims to bridge the gap between climate analysis and crisis prevention, identifying  areas with the greatest climate security spillover risk and informing the design of climate action attuned to conflict dynamics.

Q&A | Understanding the Stakes of Climate Talks for Countries in Conflict

Climate activist holds a placard during a vigil to mark the opening day of the COP28 summit outside the offices of the BBC in Salford. Phil Noble / Reuters

On 30 November, delegates gathered for the 28th iteration of the UN Climate Conference, where peace and security will be included on the thematic agenda for the first time. In this Q&A, Crisis Group expert Andrew Ciacci explains the significance of this step.

Published 1 December 2023. Available here.

PODCAST | Can COP28 Deliver for Africa?

In this episode of The Horn, Alan hosts a roundtable discussion with Saliem Fakir, executive director of the African Climate Foundation, Robert Muthami, a member of Kenya’s delegation to previous COPs, and Nazanine Moshiri, Crisis Group’s senior analyst for Climate, Environment and Conflict in Africa to talk about Africa’s role at this year’s COP28 climate summit in Dubai. They discuss Africa’s negotiating position and priorities at this year’s climate summit, including climate financing. They look at the importance for African negotiators to speak with one voice. They explain why this year’s focus on peace and conflict is new for COP and important for African countries. 

This episode of The Horn is produced in partnership with the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung.

Published 1 December 2023. Available here.

COMMENTARY | How the UN Can Make the Most of the New Agenda for Peace

The UN Secretary-General has encountered resistance to many of the ideas for strengthening international peace and security he laid out in a July policy brief. Achieving consensus on large-scale multilateral reform will be hard, but a summit in 2024 is a focus for limited innovation.

Published 30 November 2023. Available here.

COMMENTARY | Why the Taliban Should Be Brought in from the Cold for Climate Talks

Surviving the impact of climate change and adapting to harsher new environments are collective tasks that need the cooperation of all countries, even Afghanistan under the outcast Taliban regime.

Published 24 November 2023. Available here.

OP-ED | Why the Africa Climate Summit can’t afford to overlook conflict

‘Conflict isn't merely a side issue; it is an integral part of the equation.’

Op-ed by Nazanine Moshiri, Crisis Group senior analyst for environment and conflict in Africa, originally published 4 September 2023 in The New Humanitarian.

REPORT | Iran’s Khuzestan: Thirst and Turmoil

Episodes of unrest in Iran often unfold similarly: the government nods to public concerns, but then resorts to repression, setting the stage for another confrontation between state and society. The pattern is clearest in peripheral provinces like Khuzestan, where a pressing grievance is water scarcity.

Published 21 August 2023. Available here.

COMMENTARY | Landmark Amazon Summit Needs to Grapple with Crime as well as Climate

On 8 and 9 August, the presidents of eight countries will meet in Brazil to discuss means of countering the threats facing the Amazon rainforest. In this Q&A, Crisis Group expert Bram Ebus explains that inter-governmental cooperation and a regional security strategy will be essential.

Published 2 August 2023. Available here.

BRIEFING | Absorbing Climate Shocks and Easing Conflict in Kenya’s Rift Valley

A series of failed rainy seasons in northern Kenya has sharpened competition among herders, farmers and conservancy owners for land and water, often resulting in bloodshed. Authorities should redouble aid to hard-hit areas and, with donor support, look for ways to encourage sharing of resources.

Published 20 April 2023. Available here.

VIDEO | Time to Talk: Climate, Environment & Conflict in the Horn of Africa

There are indirect, yet undeniable links between climate, the environment and deadly conflict. Today, however, these links are dangerously overlooked. In the Horn of Africa, climate change is already increasing food insecurity, water scarcity and resource competition, while also disrupting livelihoods and spurring migration.

This video brings together two experts for an in-depth discussion on this topic. In it, Crisis Group’s Senior Analyst for Climate, Environment and Conflict in Africa Nazanine Moshiri speaks with Christophe Hodder, the UN’s first ever climate security and environmental adviser to Somalia. From a drought-stricken area in Kenya, they discuss the specific nature of the intersection between climate, environment and conflict in the Horn of Africa, and what must be done to mitigate the risks of violence.

Published 28 February 2023. Available here.

VISUAL EXPLAINER | Giving Countries in Conflict Their Fair Share of Climate Finance

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