Climate change amplifies the risks for violent conflicts in Africa
The potential for climate change to exacerbate violent conflict is manifest in Africa. Growing competition over natural resources will likely increase tensions on a continent that is experiencing some of the world’s most protracted conflicts. Development, peacekeeping and reconstruction efforts must integrate climate change into their plans. SEI Africa Centre Director Philip Osano examines this issue as part of “Currents 2022”, a series of SEI perspectives highlighting trends of 2022 and beyond.
In November 2021, the African Union’s Peace and Security Council issued a document that underscored the threat of climate change for the continent’s future peace and security with its communique on the need for a climate-security-development nexus for Africa. This communique underlined the importance of adopting a climate-sensitive planning dimension to peacekeeping and post-conflict reconstruction missions, and in development efforts to prevent any relapse to armed conflicts in fragile communities.
This document underscores that climate change is a threat multiplier for Africa. Climate change is leading to greater food and water insecurity, the loss of livelihoods, additional pressure on natural resources, growing water scarcity, and more climate-linked human displacements.
Climate change has begun to aggravate tensions and violent conflicts, and to exacerbate existing vulnerabilities.
Climate change is already manifest in Africa – as evidenced by the unprecedented rising waters in the Kenyan Rift Valley lakes, the worst invasion of locusts in 25 years in the Horn of Africa, and extreme drought in southern Africa. The World Meteorological Organization State of Climate Change in Africa Reports for 2019 and 2020 document the threats from rising temperatures and sea levels, changing precipitation patterns, and more extreme weather.
The potential for climate change to exacerbate violent conflict is manifest in Africa. Growing competition over natural resources will likely increase tensions.
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