Insights on the Peace & Security Council -  Climate change and its impact on Island States in Africa

Climate Change and Natural Disaster

Date | 09 September, 2019

Tomorrow (10 September) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will hold an open session on climate change and its impact on Island States in Africa.

The AU Commission, particularly the Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture and a representative from the UN may brief the Council. Representatives from Island States in Africa may also deliver their statements.

The PSC has increasingly addressed the issue of climate change and its impact on peace and security. At its 828th session it highlighted that ‘climate change is an existential multidimensional and multi-layered threat to local, national, regional and continental peace, security and stability’. The 864th session has also examined the humanitarian angle of climate change induced disasters.

Building on these PSC meetings, tomorrow’s session aims at particularly addressing the unique challenges faced by Island States. The presentation by the AUC may provide an overview of the efforts and activities undertaken in the area of climate change particularly in the finalization of the African Climate Change Strategy. The presentation may also delve into how the strategy will aim at reflecting the particular needs of island states.

Although tomorrow’s session covers issues of climate change wider than those relating to the mandate of the PSC, it could frame and focus its discussions in line with its mandate in facilitating ‘humanitarian action and disaster management’ in accordance with Article 7(p) of the PSC Protocol. Particularly in relation to disaster related displacement, the PSC through complementary bodies including the African Standby Force may play a role in the management of disasters affecting Island States building on its session of 6 August on ‘Natural and other disasters and peace and security in Africa’.

The discussions may also draw on the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) assessment missions undertaken in the six African Small Island Developing States (SIDS) namely Cape Verde, Comoros, Guinea Bissau, Mauritius, Sao Tome and Principe and the Seychelles starting from 2014. The mission report has stressed the vulnerability of SIDS to extreme events both sudden onset disasters including cyclones and to slow onset processes such as sea level rise. These challenges will require robust resilience and adaptation mechanisms as well as institutional arrangements for predicting and responding to climate change events particularly affecting such states.

When Cyclone Keneth hit the east and South-eastern coast of Africa last April causing death of many people and destruction, it affected not only countries on mainland Africa including Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania but also island states particularly Comoros, Madagascar and Seychelles. This event has shown presents solid evidence on the threat of climate change induced disasters facing island states highlighted in the UNECA assessment.

The assessment report also highlighted that despite common characteristics, there are variations in terms of impact and capacity among the SIDS. While Cape Verde, Mauritius and Seychelles have better management and response capacity, the other SIDS may need particular attention in boosting their coping capacity.

In an effort of building regional support the first conference of the African SIDS and Madagascar (SIDSAM) held in 2016 officially formalized the creation of the African group of SIDS plus Madagascar.

In enhancing these efforts and drawing linkage with the mandate of the PSC on peace and security and humanitarian action, the PSC may recall its 774th session in which it has requested the AUC, ‘within the context of the implementation of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA), to undertake a study on the nexus between climate change and peace and security in the continent with a particular attention on the plight of Island Member States.’ The study may examine the various initiatives that have been undertaken in resilience and adaptation but also in terms of the threats it poses on some of the particu vulnerabilities facing island states of the continent.

Tomorrow’s session may recall its previous decisions on climate change with a view to ensuring the needs and experiences of Island States is also well captured in the various climate change related engagements of the AU including in the work of the African Group of Negotiators on Climate Change as provided for in its 774th session outcome document.

In this context the PSC may also reiterate its 864th session on the ‘need to expedite the finalization of the necessary institutional framework, with a view to expediting the operationalization of the PRC Sub-Committee on Climate Change’. This will be a critical step in supporting the mandate of PSC in deliberating on peace and security matters in the context and experience of SIDS. The sub-committee may play a wide role in tabling key issues that require the immediate attention of the PSC.
The early warning mechanism which are utilized for peace and security purposes may also expand towards incorporating indicators for purposes of climate change induced disaster and human crisis. The PSC may also receive early-warning briefings that are specific to the risks associated with SIDS and on how their vulnerability may also be a cause of insecurity. The early warning team in close collaboration with the PRC sub-committee on climate change (once operationalized) and the climate change and disaster risk reduction divisions of the AUC, may provide the PSC up-to-date and regular briefings and data on the status of SIDS.

The PSC may utilize the session not only to remind the need for regional cooperation and solidary but also to highlight the need to fulfil global commitments towards mitigation and adaptation support to developing countries by developed countries.

The session is taking place ahead of the high-level UN Climate Action Summit to be convened in September 2019 by the UN Secretary General. The PSC may particularly take advantage of the timing to craft key messages that can inform the summit in considering the vulnerabilities experienced by African SIDS. The expected outcome is a press statement. The PSC may stress the special vulnerabilities faced by Island States particularly SIDS due to the effects of climate change. It may call on for the speedy operationalization of existing mechanisms and institutions namely the AU Climate Change Strategy and the PRC sub-committee on climate change. The PSC may also express support for the SIDSAM group of states and their initiatives for addressing the particular challenges facing them as a result of climate change. It may also reiterate and call on AUC to finalize the study on nexus between climate change and peace and security with a dimension addressing the needs of African island states.


Insights on the Peace & Security Council -  Open session on Natural and Other Disasters and Peace and Security in Africa 

Climate Change and Natural Disaster

Date | 5 August, 2019

Tomorrow (6 August) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will hold the first open session of the month on ‘Natural and Other Disasters and Peace and Security in Africa: Beyond the Normative Frameworks’. An expert from the Meteorological Services Department of Zimbabwe is expected to deliver a presentation. The AUC is also expected to make a statement, which among others, seeks to update the PSC on the operationalization of the AU Humanitarian Agency.

The session is being held in the aftermath of two major cyclone events that wreaked havoc in the east and South eastern coast of Africa, the worst cyclone events to hit the Southern hemisphere last March and May. Zimbabwe, the PSC Chair for this month, was among the countries affected by the first of the cyclones, Cyclone Idai that hit the South-eastern coast of Africa in March.

While Cyclone Idai affected Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, Cyclone Keneth that hit the east and South-eastern coast of Africa causing death of many people and destruction in Mozambique, Tanzania, Comoros, Madagascar, Seychelles, Malawi and Mayotte Island. The cyclones resulted in the death of over 1000 people, in the destruction of farmlands, houses and public infrastructure such as schools and public health centres.

As these events show, Africa, while being the continent that contributed the least to the causes of climate change, is one of the parts of the world most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. It has been pointed out in a study by USAID that globally 57 per cent of the countries facing the highest double burden of climate exposure and political fragility risks are located in sub-Saharan Africa. The UN led Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has shown strong links between the impacts of climate change in Africa with some of the most intractable conflict on the continent. These conflicts are caused and exacerbated by existing structural environmental, socio-economic, political and technological weaknesses including environmental pressure over scarce resources, unemployment and poverty.

The agenda for tomorrow’s session indicates that the objectives of the session include ‘integrate climate information into infrastructure ecosystem and settlement plans’ and identify ‘innovative financing for reconstruction and climate sensitive infrastructure planning’. Indeed, the scale of the impact of the two cyclones reflects the weak state of the institutions and infrastructure of affected societies. The poor capacity of institutions and the state of the physical infrastructure and social services also contribute to poor mitigation, and response capacities.

The AU has policy frameworks to support member states in preparedness, prevention and mitigation of natural disasters including through the adoption of the program of action for the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 in Africa. According to the 2018 UN Secretary General report on the implementation of the Sendai Framework, only 13 African member states have national disaster risk reduction strategies that are aligned with the Sendai Framework. In terms of the role of the PSC, one of the roles assigned to the PSC under Article 6(4) pf the PSC Protocol relates to humanitarian action and disaster management. The African Peace and Security Architecture Roadmap 2016–20 and the AU Master Roadmap for Silencing the Guns by 2020 also recognize climate change as a cross cutting issue.

The AU Humanitarian Policy Framework and its annex the policy guideline on the role of the African Standby Force in Humanitarian Action and Natural Disaster Support (HANDS) articulate practical steps in facilitating response and humanitarian action in complex crisis or emergencies. The role of ASF in HANDS is also anchored in the PSC Protocol. Article 13(f) of the Protocol highlights one of the key functions of the ASF as being the facilitation of “humanitarian assistance to alleviate the suffering of civilian population in conflict areas and support efforts to address major natural disasters”.

While these policy frameworks and institutional awareness are important, these have not as yet translated into a coherent and sustained operational action. Accordingly, it is of major interest for tomorrow’s PSC meeting to look into the systematic inclusion of environment and the effects of climate change in the continent’s peace and security architecture and the development and security agenda of the AU, its member states and Regional Economic Communities (RECs).

The role of AU organs is also of interest. In this respect, it is worth noting that At its last ordinary session held in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights adopted Resolution 417 on Resolution on the human rights impacts of extreme weather in Eastern and Southern Africa due to climate change outlining specific measures for addressing the human rights dimension of extreme weather events such as the two cyclones that hit east and south-eastern Africa.

In terms of inclusion of issues of climate change into the peace and security architecture, an important avenue is the establishment, as part of the continental conflict early warning system, a dedicated framework of whether and climate forecasting not only for detecting and alerting vulnerable countries of emerging whether disasters but also for mobilizing responses for mitigating impacts of such events and rehabilitating affected communities. As noted in the concept note for tomorrow’s session, this can be done by tapping into the expertise of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), which can play the role of supporting early warning and preparedness work. The contribution that the WMO can make has also been recognized at the global level when the organization has addressed the UNSC for the first time during the January 2019 open debate.
As noted above, tomorrow’s session will discuss the operationalization of the African Humanitarian Agency and its role in responding to natural and other form of disasters. The council has highlighted its expectation to see the full operationalization of the agency by January 2019 and has frequently called for the swift completion of the process.

Tomorrow’s session is expected to provide an opportunity to review the progress that has been made so far and outstanding issues for the full operationalization of the Agency.

Also of interest for tomorrow’s session is the integration into the strategies and action plans of the AU Humanitarian Agency dedicated tools and capacity for mobilizing intervention and resources for climate resilient infrastructure planning and for the anticipation, management and mitigation of climate induced disasters in Africa.

The PSC has thus far held five sessions on the impact of climate change induced crises in Africa. This session presents an opportunity for reviewing the evolution of PSC’s consideration of the impact of climate change in Africa and gaps in the PSC’s approach and AU’s responsiveness to climate change related disasters on the continent.

The expected outcome of the session is a press statement. The PSC may reiterate the importance of comprehensive, climate related security risk information, including credible data and analyses with a view to enabling Member States to predict with more precision the frequency of climate change related risks, including natural disasters, and to enhance resilience of vulnerable communities. It may also urge for increased allocation of national budgets for disaster risk preparedness and reduction and for integration into development finance of support for climate resilient infrastructural planning and community development interventions. The PSC may endorse the call of Resolution 417 of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights for the AU to declare the year 2021 the AU Year for Climate Change preparedness and response. It may also call on the AUC to expedite the operationalization of the AU Humanitarian Agency and the inclusion, as part of the finalization of the outcomes of the study on the nexus between climate change and peace and security (mandated through its 774th session), of assessment on Africa’s vulnerability to climate induced disaster and the measures required for mitigation and response.


Insights on the Peace & Security Council -  Briefing on the Locust Invasion in East Africa

Climate Change and Natural Disaster

Date | 09 April, 2020

Tomorrow (10 April), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to have a briefing on the locust invasion endangering food security of millions of people in the East Africa region. The briefing is expected to take place through electronic exchanges. It is envisaged that the PSC will consider the written briefing from Workneh Gebeyehu, the Executive Secretary of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

The PSC previously held sessions on the impacts of climate change induced whether events including El Nino and the cyclones that affected in the Eastern and Southern Africa coasts. Thus, the 558th session of the PSC was dedicated to “The impact of EI Nino on Peace, Security and Stability in Africa and the Humanitarian Consequences’’. Under Article 6(f) of the PSC Protocol, it is envisaged that one of the functions of the PSC covers humanitarian action and disaster management. It is within the framework of these foundations that tomorrow’s remote briefing is being held on the locus invasion.

Before the novel coronavirus (COVID19) became the global emergency that has taken the center stage in policy processes across Africa, as in other parts of the world, the largest locust invasion threatening the food security and livelihood of millions of people has already been under way in the East Africa region. In his address during the opening of the AU Summit on 9 February, AU Commission Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat remarked in passing on the threat posed by the locust invasion in East Africa. The AU along with FAO organized the first ministerial meeting for the Desert Locust affected countries on 7 February 2020. This was followed by IGAD Heads of State and Government Summit.

The locust invasion has been spreading rapidly across this region since December 2019. Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia remain the most heavily impacted, with bands of hoppers and swarms of adult locusts devouring vegetation in multiple areas; mature desert locusts continue to breed in all three countries as of early March. According to reports of World Food Program (FAO), locust infestations have also intensified in Djibouti, Eritrea, and Sudan in recent months due to increased rainfall and the arrival of desert locust swarms from other affected countries. Other countries feared to be affected by the infestation include South Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania.

The scale of the invasion and the attendant impact is unprecedented in recent decades. It is reported to be the worst infestation in 70 years. It is reported that the swarms are extremely large. In North-Eastern Kenya, one swarm was measured to be 37 miles long and 25 miles wide. The swarms, which can contain as many as 80 million adult locusts, travel up to 80 miles each day. Just a small swarm of the insects can eat as much food as 35,000 people daily.

The invasion has already adversely impacted communities in affected parts of the countries concerned. Things can get worse. The fear is that the number of locusts could grow up to 500 times before drier weather arrives if the efforts of countries including the aerial spraying is not able to bring the swarms under control. According to the FAO, the longer the locust outbreak continues in an already environmentally fragile region with existing food security problems, the higher is the risk of famine. This is particularly the case in conflict affected areas.

Even without the locust outbreak, some 25 million people in East Africa already faced high levels of food insecurity. It is pointed out in Gebeyehu’s briefing note that ‘one major concern is that the new infestation will lead to significant crop losses in areas previously affected by droughts and floods as it will increase vulnerability among the affected households.’ IGAD’s chief also warns that ‘[a]ny spread to major producing areas could cause more significant impact in the region. Under the worst-case scenario, FAO estimates that there would be approximately 2.5 to 4.9 million additional caseload of food insecurity or worse.’ In an appeal to the world for mobilizing $76 million to end the locust plague, the FAO Director warned that inaction will affect 13 million people ‘devastated by the loss of their crops and livelihoods’.

The crisis has become a major issue in the affected countries. Highlighting the gravity of the threat posed by the locust invasion, Somalia declared a state of emergency. Aerial spraying of pesticides is the most effective way of controlling the locust swarm. Countries in the region have tried to use both ground and aerial spraying of pesticide. As pointed out in Gebeyehu’s briefing note, these operations have faced various challenges. These challenges include the size and speed of mobility of the swarms, their coverage of areas not easily accessible and security issue arising from presence of Al Shabaab. Of contemporary concern is the impact of measures announced by various governments to prevent escalation of COVID-19 pandemic including disruption of surveillance control operations, and deployment of control experts and equipment and delayed supply of pesticides and equipment, including aircrafts.

Given the regional scale of the outbreak, there a need not only to support the efforts of affected countries for containing the spread of the infestation but also for a regional coordination and approach. It is here that the role of the regional body IGAD becomes critical.

While the threat that the locust invasion presents to the food security and livelihood of millions of people in the region deserves attention in its own, as a phenomenon induced by climate change, it should also be addressed in relation to the thematic focus of the PSC on climate change and its various peace and security and humanitarian impacts in Africa.

The expected outcome of the remote briefing is a communique. This is expected to cover various issues including measures for enhanced response for the infestation most importantly enhanced continental and international support for desert locust surveillance and control operations. In this respect, apart from mobilizing resources and support for such operations, the PSC may call on affected countries to coordinate their responses and in collaboration with IGAD provide the required cooperation to ensure that the impact of COVID19 measures are limited to the absolute minimum. In areas affected by Al Shabab, the PSC may call on cessation of hostilities and provision of access to those areas for undertaking the operations for controlling the locust in those areas. Given the impact of the infestation on the livelihood and food security affected communities and the humanitarian crisis it poses, the PSC may call for provision of humanitarian assistance and urge member states of the AU and the international community to heed the appeal of the FAO for mobilizing the funding necessary for the operation to stop the plague. The PSC may also urge the need for enhancing continental action for dealing with the multifaceted manifestations and impact of climate change and the non-military threat that this locust invasion poses to the development, peace and security of affected countries.


Insights on the Peace & Security Council -  Climate Change Funding in Line with the Africa Adaptation Initiative to Contribute  to Peace and Security

Climate Change and Natural Disaster

Date | 19 February, 2019

Tomorrow (February 19) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will have an open session on climate change funding in line with the Africa Adaptation Initiative (IAA) to contribute to peace and security.

The session has been initiated by Gabon as the incumbent PSC chair of the month. The session is designed as part of Gabon’s role as both the AU Champion of IAA and the coordinator of the Committee of African Heads of States and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSCC).

It is envisaged that the Chair of the PSC, Gabon’s Ambassador Hermann Immongault, will make an opening remark on the theme. Mr Tanguy Gahouma Bekale, Permanent Secretary of the Conseil National Climat (CNC) of Gabon, is expected to provide the PSC with the lead briefing on the theme to frame the deliberations of the session.

The core focus of tomorrow’s session is not simply on the nexus between climate change and insecurity but also importantly on the financing of climate change adaptation as a peace and security measure. The session is to be held under the theme ‘Financing of climate change adaptation within the framework of the Africa Adaptation Initiative (AAI) to contribute to peace and security’. The concept note envisages that the session will address the climate change and conflict nexus, highlighting the main correlation ‘especially how climate change gives rise to or aggravate conflicts in Africa’. Of particular interest is the attention that the concept note draws to the role of climate change related events in precipitating forced displacement and migration of people.

The security dimension of climate change is being increasingly recognized. It is elevated as a factor that destabilizes communities’ coping capacity and as a trigger of tension due to competition over depleting resources. The security narrative is gradually dominating the way climate change and its effects are being characterized. In Africa, environmental degradation exacerbates existing economic inequality and political polarization as it can be observed in the Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin regions where the compounded effects of insecurity and climate change are critically affecting communities’ survival and livelihood. According to the Climate Change Profile undertaken by the government of the Netherlands, the Sahel contributed an estimated of 0.92% of the global gas emission yet almost all of the countries in the region rank among the 20% most vulnerable to climate change, and three (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali) are among the most vulnerable 10%. Similarly, the Greater Horn of Africa region including Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan makes a negligible contribution of 0.59% to global gas emission, however four countries in the region (Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan) are among the most vulnerable 10%.
Previously the PSC held three sessions on climate change and peace and security in Africa. At its first session on the subject at its 585th session under the theme ‘Climate Change: State fragility, peace and security in Africa’, the PSC stressed the importance of the Commission to mainstream climate change in all its activities, particularly in early warning and conflict prevention efforts. Moreover, at its 660th meeting the PSC highlighted the correlation between human security and environmental protection, and expressed ‘serious concerns over the devastating impact of climate change in Africa as manifested through recurrent droughts, which is one of the major triggers of tensions and violence in communities’. More relevant to the focus of tomorrow’s session, the PSC at its 774th session noted the importance of ‘coordinated efforts in mitigating the adverse effects of climate change’. During the session the Council has requested the Commission to undertake a study on the nexus between climate change and peace and security and to appoint an AU Special Envoy for climate change and security.
While it has been more than 11 years since the issue of climate change and peace and security started to feature on the agenda of the UNSC (the latest being the open debate on addressing the impact of climate-related disasters on international peace and security held on 25 January 2019), it expressly recognized under Resolution 2349 the need for adequate risk assessments and management strategies by governments and the UN relating to the adverse security effects of climate and ecological factors in the Lake Chad Basin.

Climate change and its related effects in the continent particularly on peace and security has become an important theme featuring annually on the agenda of the PSC over the past few years. It will however be the first time for PSC to address climate change in the context of the IAA and funding for adaptation. For Africa, adaptation is seen as a policy priority in addressing the adverse impacts of climate change. During the COP 21 Africa has taken a clear direction towards addressing its major concern by launching the IAA to enhance adaptation financing and address loss and damage in Africa. In 2017 Gabon became the first African country to make a financial contribution by pledging USD$500,000 to the IAA.

As set out in the concept note, the objective of the session is to address the impacts of climate change including ‘the complete link existing between climate risks and conflicts on the one hand and how the Africa Adaptation Initiative could be a collective response both for the fight against climate change and to guarantee peace and security’.

In focusing on adaptation and its financing, the session positions the channeling of funding to adaptation to be a conflict prevention tool, particularly in relation to conflict risks arising from climate change. This will be of particular interest for conflict situations or vulnerabilities in the Sahel, Lake Chad and Horn of Africa regions. It would thus be of interest for PSC members and more immediately for Nigeria in the context of the implementation of the regional strategy on the stabilization of the Lake Chad Basin Region. Also of note is the links of the theme of the session to the policy framework on post-conflict reconstruction and development, which encompasses protection against environmental degradation. One of the issues raised in the concept note is also the link between IAA and the AU Peace Fund particularly under the preventive diplomacy window. The linkage to such existing policies will provide a holistic picture of the nexus between security, climate change and adaptation.

The session is taking place following the recently concluded 32nd AU Summit which reiterated the need for developed countries to continue to increase climate finance towards achieving the 2020 finance goal to reach the US$100 billion annually. The Summit has noted the increased role of the IAA in close collaboration with other Africa led global processes to spearhead the adaptation agenda of the continent. The AU may also work towards mobilizing financial and political support before the cutoff date of 2020, which is considered as a critical turning point in the global climate change agenda. The PSC session will also be a platform to share an update on the last IAA partners’ roundtable meeting held at the margins of the 73rd UN General Assembly, which has made a decision to produce and launch the first Africa State of Adaptation Report.
The expected outcome is a press statement. The statement may call on further support to the IAA by African states as well as the international community. It may particularly call for the strengthened integration of climate change and adaptation into the security agenda, hence the need to tap into existing funding associated to peace and security to also be utilized for climate change adaptation. The PSC may call for the establishment of a mechanism that establishes complementarity between IAA and the AU Peace Fund with respect to the climate change dimension of conflicts. Taking forward its previous meetings on the theme of climate change and peace and security, the PSC may also reiterate its call for a study on the nexus between climate change and peace and security as a basis for determining the appointment of a special envoy on the theme.


Insights on the PSC Session on climate induced conflicts: Sources of insecurity in Africa

Climate Change and Natural Disaster

Date | 21 May, 2016

PSC Open Session on Climate Induced Conflicts: Sources of Insecurity in Africa

Tomorrow (21 May 2016), the Peace and Security Council (PSC) will have an open session on the theme ‘Climate Induced Conflicts: Sources of Insecurity in Africa’. The AU Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture (DREA) and the Peace and Security Department (PSD) are scheduled to brief the PSC.

The meeting is taking place in the framework of the African Common Position on Climate Change and the Mitigation Factors adopted by subsequent AU Assembly decisions. The agenda demonstrate the increased recognition by the AU and the PSC of the strong link between climate change, global warming and violent conflicts in Africa. The African Common positon notes that even though Africa is one of the least contributors to the global green gas emission, and has one of the lowest footprint for the global warming, it is paying dearly to the global change in climate. The meeting will also be informed by the 2015 Paris Agreement in international cooperation on climate change.

The agenda for tomorrow’s session indicates that one of the objectives of tomorrow’s meeting is to have a clear picture on the relationship between climate change and conflicts in Africa. This is one of the issues on which the briefing from DREA is expected to provide insights. The effect of climate change in conflict and climate-related environmental change isn’t automatic and immediate. Yet, climate change creates the conditions for violent conflict through a long chain of connected causal events. The UN led Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has shown strong links between the impacts of climate change in Africa with some of the most intractable conflict on the continent. These conflicts are caused and exacerbated by existing structural environmental, socio-economic, political and technological weaknesses including environmental pressure over scarce resources, unemployment and poverty. The poor capacity of institutions and the state of the physical infrastructure and social services also contribute to poor mitigation, response and adaptive capacities.
African economies and the livelihood of various communities on the continent are heavily reliant on natural resources. Environmental pressures affecting the foundation of local and regional livelihoods are increasingly precipitating inter-communal violence. Some of the manifestations of climate change on the continent in the past two decades include recurrent droughts, El Nino, irregular rainfall, floods and intensified desertification. These developments have resulted in disrupting livelihoods, instigating migration, food and water shortages and internal displacement. Numerous researches and the AU documents especially identified the pastoralist communities of the continent as the most vulnerable group for the clime change induced inter communal violence and conflict.
The changing rainfall patterns and water scarcity and insecurity have become sites of national and regional tensions. These have ruined local economies, disrupted livelihoods producing recurring droughts as witnessed in the Horn of Africa. Declining and irregular rainfall and water scarcity have also affected the seasonal migration and movement patters of the African pastoralist communities. These changes to the long existing patters of movement for grazing land and water sources has significantly increased competition between different pastoralist groups and between pastoralists and farming communities. These tensions have resulted in recurrent conflicts in almost all regions of the continent from Ethiopia to Darfur and from Kenya to Nigeria.

Beyond the seasonal shift in pastoralist routs, environmental concerns and climate change is becoming a major source for internal displacement and cross border migration in Africa. The inability to sustain their economic and social needs because of climate change, coupled with other political and economic factors, are forcing people to move to areas with better availability of resources. The IPCC predict that environmental migration and displacement which is taken as a major adoptive strategy will be one of the biggest source of insecurity and sources of conflict in the coming years unless major mitigation and adoption initiatives are taken. These developments already lead to increased tensions and competition and led to localized and cross-border conflicts in some parts of Africa.

It is of major interest for tomorrow’s PSC meeting to look into the inclusion of environment and the effects of climate change in the continent’s peace and security architecture and the development and security agenda of AU member states. The Council in the past called for resilient approach in mitigating the impacts of climate change. These include building national capacity for proper conservation, utilization and management of natural resources. Other issues that may arise in the briefings include the inclusion in the report of the AU Commission Chairperson and in briefings on conflicts on the agenda of the PSC of assessment on the contribution or role of climate change to such conflicts. A good illustration of this was the inclusion of the climate change dimension of sources of insecurity in the Lake Chad Basin region in the April program of work of the PSC.

For PSC members, beyond the various forms of relationships between climate change and insecurity, there is a concern around the lack or weakness of shared institutions and mechanisms of conflict resolution and management among the different groups at national and regional levels. Rwanda as Chair of the PSC is expected to highlight the need for member states to implement AU decisions including the building of the trans-African green wall and to encourage member states to sign and ratify the amendments to the Montreal Protocol on Climate Change (also known as the Kigali Amendments).

In terms of follow up of the theme, one useful avenue is the inclusion of climate change and environmental factors as important peace and security concerns in the AU early warning and conflict prevention efforts. In this regard, the role of the continental and regional early warning mechanisms in building national and local capacities on early warning on potential climate change-related conflicts will also be of interest for this session. This is an issue that the briefing from PSD may highlight.

At the regional level, there are various initiatives. It is worth noting in this regard that pastoralist related conflicts in the region has been a major focus of the early warning system of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), CEWARN. Most recently, the issue of climate induced inter-communal conflicts has received attention within the framework of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The recurring violence among herders and farming communities in ECOWAS states such as most notably Nigeria exemplify the destabilizing impact of climate change on the continent. Various reports have indicated that over 2000 people have lost their lives in 2016 in such conflicts in Nigeria’s middle belt region.

At their 16 December 2017 summit, the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government identified the rise of conflicts related to transhumance in several states as constituting a new threat to regional security. Accordingly, they tasked ECOWAS Commission to work with UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) to conduct a comprehensive study and recommend an action plan to address the problem. Given that one of the objectives of this session is to help the AU devise strategies to find solutions to the security related impacts of climate change, it is worth to follow this example from ECOWAS for conducting comprehensive assessment and developing action plan.

Although the outcome of this meeting was not clear, the PSC will at the very least adopt a statement. This is expected to state the need for paying increasing attention to the impacts of climate change on the security situation of various regions of the continent. It may in this regard task DREA and PSD to provide the PSC with detailed assessment of the theme and a mapping of parts of the continent most vulnerable to climate induced conflicts. The PSC is also expected to call for the introduction of a tree-planting scorecard for member states to share best practices and experiences on an annual basis. Another item that the outcome of this session may address is the inclusion of the security dimensions of climate change in the AU peace and security architecture.