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Without Water

  • Laurie Goering
  • Apr, 2019
  • 833
  • Climate changed


Climate change threats – from worsening water shortages in Iraq and Pakistan to harsher hurricanes in the ‎Caribbean – are a growing security risk and require concerted action to ensure they don’t spark new violence, ‎security experts have warned.‎

Monika Sie Dhian Ho, the general director of the Clingendael Institute, a Dutch think tank, said climate change was ‎not about something in the far and distant future. ‘We are discussing imminent threats to national security,’ he said.‎

The drying of Africa’s Lake Chad basin, for instance, has helped drive recruitment for Islamist militant group Boko ‎Haram among young people unable to farm or find other work, said Haruna Kuje Ayuba of Nigeria’s Nasarawa State ‎University.‎

The geography professor said in a conference on climate and security on February 19 at The Hague that people ‎were already deprived of a basic livelihood. ‘If you give them a little money and tell them to destroy this or kill that, ‎they are ready to do it.’‎

Iraq, meanwhile, has seen its water supplies plunge as its upstream neighbours build dams and climate change ‎brings hotter and dryer conditions to Baghdad, said Hisham Al-Alawi, Iraq’s Ambassador to the Netherlands.‎

He told the conference that overall Iraqis were getting less by nearly 40 percent of the waters they used to get.‎

Shoring up the country’s water security, largely by building more storage and cutting water losses, will take nearly ‎‎$80 billion through 2035.‎

Faced with more heat and less rain, he said the Iraqis needed to be wise and start planning for the future, as this ‎trend was likely to continue.‎


The threat of worsening violence related to climate change also extends to countries and regions not currently ‎thought of as insecurity hot spots, climate and security analysts at the conference warned.‎

The Caribbean, for instance, faces more destructive hurricanes, coral bleaching, sea-level rise and looming water ‎shortages that threaten its main economic pillars, particularly tourism.‎

Selwin Hart, the Barbados-born Executive Director of the Inter-American Development Bank, said his people were ‎facing an existential crisis in the Caribbean.‎

Ninety percent of the region’s economic activity – particularly tourism, fishing and port operations – takes place on ‎the threatened coastline.‎

Hurricanes, in recent years, have flattened the economies of some Caribbean nations, with Hurricane Maria in 2017 ‎costing Dominica about 225 percent of its gross domestic product, the World Bank estimates.‎


‎‘As the global emissions that drive climate change continue to rise, there is not a realistic chance of achieving the ‎goals of the Paris Agreement’‎


Mr. Hart said that but as the global emissions that drive climate change continued to rise, there was not a realistic ‎chance of achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement.‎

The agreement calls for a rapid shift away from fossil fuels to hold the global average temperature rise to well below ‎‎2 degrees Celsius.‎

Mr. Hart also said the failure to cut emissions meant the Caribbean, while doing what it could to become more ‎resilient to the growing risks, also needed to plan for the worst-case scenario.‎

Ronald Jackson, of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, said it was trying to do that by building ‎coordination and assistance networks among Caribbean states and looking to shore up access to food and water, ‎among other changes.‎

He also said often that work required persuading officials from very different ministries – finance, tourism, ‎agriculture, water, energy and security, for instance – to sit down together and coordinate plans. And that the work ‎had to be done quickly, he added.‎

Last October the world’s climate scientists warned that to hold global temperature hikes to 1.5 degrees C, global ‎energy systems would have to dramatically shift in the next dozen years.‎

He went on to saying that before the 1.5 degree report came out the Caribbean was looking at a much longer time ‎frame for change. ‘But now it is the 2020s, early 2030s. We’re out of time. We have to act now.’‎

Military officials around the world have increasingly recognised the risks associated with climate change, and moved ‎to shore up bases against sea-level rise, curb military emissions, adopt clean energy and analyse changing risks.‎

At the Planetary Security conference at The Hague, they announced the creati...

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