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Climate change and violence in Africa: no time to lose

Climate change and violence in Africa: no time to lose

The AU is the first international body to tackle the problem head-on, and it needs global support.

Climate change poses serious security threats in Africa. Global organisations, regional communities and countries are increasingly recognising this fact, but that isn’t enough – urgent action is needed.

In March 2021, the African Union Peace and Security Council (AU PSC) issued an unprecedented communiqué dedicated to the effects of climate change on peace, security and stability in Africa. It was the first to specifically address the threats climate change poses to safety and call for specific actions, including establishing an AU Special Fund for Climate Change.

In April, United States President Joe Biden convened a Leaders’ Summit on Climate for 40 world leaders, including from Nigeria, South Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Gabon and Kenya. The meeting included a theme on responding to the global security challenges posed by climate change.

In early May, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s (SIPRI) Stockholm Forum on Peace and Development included a climate change session. World leaders, researchers and practitioners talked about the importance of reducing climate security risks in peacekeeping and peacebuilding and factoring in a climate perspective when dealing with violent extremism.

There isn’t an easily defined direct causal link between climate change and conflict. Nonetheless, it does exacerbate security risks, including violent conflict. In this sense, climate change is a ‘risk multiplier’, ‘fragility amplifier’ or ‘conflict catalyst’. For Africa, where there is already a confluence of risks, it can trigger insecurity and violence.

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