In a recent article for New Security Beat, Colin Walch made the case that the abandonment of some communities in Mali to deal with climate change on their own has created “fertile ground” for jihadist recruitment.
In a similar argument, Katharina Nett and Lukas Rüttinger in a report for adelphi asserted last month that “large-scale environmental and climatic change contributes to creating an environment in which [non-state armed groups] can thrive and opens spaces that facilitate the pursuit of their strategies”.
These are important findings and relevant studies that point to the multifaceted security risks that result from climate change. They moreover confirm that climate change does not act as a cause of violence, but as a meaningful threat multiplier. But, as I recently argued during a Wilson Center discussion, we also need to move beyond a singular focus on risk.
We need to put opportunity and peace back at the centre of environmental peace and conflict research and practice. In fragile states, we need to strengthen our efforts to identify the potential that climate action has to overcome fragility and improve people’s lives, not just focus on threats. This requires both a better understanding of what works on the ground and clear global leadership.