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May 31 2019

NATO Hub Hosts Climate Change Conference

Story by American Army Sgt. 1st Class (OR-7) Michael O'Brien, JFC Naples Public Affairs

NAPLES, Italy - The NATO Strategic Direction South HUB and the Supreme Allied Command Transformation hosted a Study Day in Naples on "The Impact of Climate Change on Stability in Middle East and North Africa,” May 30, 2019 in Naples, Italy.

NATO remains interested in the stability of the Middle East and Africa because this will increase the security of Europe.

Among many global challenges, the HUB has identified climate change as one that does not require any military options but that has security implications.

Regional academics, subject-matter experts, and international organization’s representatives attended the study day to help NATO understand how climate change could influence the stability in Middle East and North Africa.

One of the key speakers was H.E. Ambassador Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko, Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture of the African Union.

"Africa is the most vulnerable continent to climate change in spite of contributing only 3.8 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions,” said Sacko. "African heads of state created three climate commissions at COP 22 in 2016, the Sahel Region, the Congo Basin, and African Island States. NATO can support this effort as a sustainable way of mitigating climate change and stopping the deadly migration to Europe by African youth.”

Ambassador Sacko was named as one of the 100 World’s Most Influential People in Climate Policy 2019.

The specific themes they explored were how climate change could lead to social and economic transformations and how it could lead to security challenges.

Climate change worsens existing social, economic, and environmental risks that can fuel unrest and potentially result in conflict.

Security concerns aggravated by climate change include impacts on food and water supply, increased competition over natural resources, loss of livelihoods, climate-related disasters, migration, and displacement.

Crisis-affected countries are more susceptible to being overwhelmed by the security risks posed by climate change.

Stabilization efforts often do not consider the impacts of climate change.

At the same time, state fragility hinders climate change adaptation efforts, particularly among the most vulnerable communities.

Military experts, including NATO and many of its member states, consider climate change to be a "threat multiplier,” exacerbating impacts of persistent poverty, weak institutions for resource management and conflict resolution, fault lines, a history of mistrust between communities and nations, and inadequate access to information or resources.

Climate change affects resource availability and has already led to migration and increased competition over scarce resources in some of the hotspots.

The environmental damage caused by climate change transcends borders, and because resources like water (rivers, lakes, etc.) often cross borders too, climate change can motivate countries to cooperate to solve mutual problems.

Several government reports and think tank publications have pointed out that climate change, if handled properly, could represent an unprecedented threat that ultimately binds former geopolitical rivals closer together.

That, of course, may be a dream, but it is undoubtedly true that there are solutions to help mitigate the risks and impacts of climate change – so long as the countries find political will to implement them.

This event was a demonstration of how NATO, with its Strategic Direction South HUB contributes toward the further development of peaceful and friendly international relations by strengthening their free institutions, and promoting conditions of stability and well-being.

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