Climate Change and Conflict

Climate Change, Security and Peacebuilding: Challenges and Opportunities Across Scales

October 27, 2022

Wellington, New Zealand

An international workshop on climate change, security and peacebuilding, co-organised by the Toda Peace Institute, Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington and IOM was held in Wellington on 27 and 28 October 2022. The aim of the workshop was to develop a better mutual understanding of approaches, advantages, limitations and concerns of various stakeholders across multiple scales, taking as a starting point the Pacific Island Forum's 2018 Boe Declaration statement that climate change is “the single greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and wellbeing of the peoples of the Pacific.” A full report on the workshop was published as a Summary Report written by Dr. Volker Boege.

The effects of climate change generate threats to peace and security for people and societies across multiple scales and dimensions of social life. These can challenge the everyday security of community members in rural environments, as well as geo-political stability in regional-international contexts. Relocations of coastal villages further inland due to sea level rise or the geo-strategic changes due to the warming of Arctic waters come to mind as examples. Moreover, these effects often are linked across levels – local developments can have national, regional and even international consequences, and decisions taken in far-away capital cities of major powers can have consequences for the everyday lives of people in the local context. Peace and security are affected in various dimensions – from human to national security, from the stability of international order to the spiritual needs of deeply religious communities.

This workshop addressed these interconnections with a regional focus on the Pacific. It brought together researchers, practitioners and policymakers for information sharing, exchange and dialogue. Challenges for collaboration across scales and issue areas were explored, using core questions such as how to translate very local stories and local data into national, regional and international policies; how to reconcile the complexities of specific cases with (the need for) standardised policy and programme formats, how to reconcile different time horizons and requirements, what to learn from experiences of past relocations.

Representatives of NGOs working with climate change-affected local communities presented the NGOs’ experiences. Policymakers from the New Zealand and Australian governments and multilateral organisations introduced their programmes, and researchers reported on cases and problems in the climate change, security and peacebuilding field. 

The main thematic area of the workshop was the nexus between climate change, human mobility (in its various forms of migration, relocation, displacement), security and peacebuilding. Practitioners reported on their work with communities in Fiji which had to or have to relocate due to the effects of climate change. Researchers presented case studies from the Pacific diaspora in New Zealand as well as specific Pacific Island contexts (e.g., Tuvalu and Solomon Islands). Policymakers talked about regional Pacific and national (New Zealand, Tuvalu, Australia) initiatives and the broader political context.   

The workshop was supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade New Zealand and Toda’s partner organisation Conciliation Resources (London and Melbourne), as well as its partners in Fiji (Transcend Oceania, Pacific Centre for Peacebuilding, Pacific Conference of Churches, Pacific Theological College). 

Related reading:

Peacebuilding Approaches to Climate Change in Fijian Communities 

A guide grounded in traditional knowledge and culturally appropriate non-violent approaches to create just, peaceful, inclusive, participatory, sustainable and resilient communities. This 'Community Engagement Approach', undertaken by Transcend Oceania and Conciliation Resources, is a work in progress and a methodology that will continue to be tested.

Navigating Human Security and Climate Mobility in the Pacific Sea of Islands

This Policy Brief was prepared by Tim Westbury (IOM Consultant) with guidance from Sabira Coelho (IOM PCCM-HS Project Manager) and overall supervision of Solomon Kantha (Chief of Mission, IOM Fiji)

Pacific Migration Climate Change and Human Security Programme Regional Policy Dialogue Summary Report

This report summarises the key issues that emerged from the Regional Policy Dialogue, organised under the Pacific Climate Change Migration and Human Security (PCCM-HS) programme over the period September to November 2020 and presents the potential scope of a regional approach to help address climate related mobility in the Pacific, and next steps for the further development of the approach.

Climate Change and Conflict Risks in the Pacific: Conciliation Resources

This paper identifies and briefly outlines a number of climate change conflict risks within the Southwest Pacific region.3 It is based on emerging work by Conciliation Resources, focused on the climate change and conflict nexus in the Southwest Pacific. The paper also provides three initial recommendations for civil society organisations, national governments, international organisations and donors who are seeking to work with communities and governments to understand and prevent violent conflict arising from the impacts of climate change.

In the Eye of the Storm: Reflections from the Second Pacific Climate Change Conference

This publication is the product of the second biennial Pacific Climate Change Conference held in Wellington in 2018. A diverse range of experts have addressed the current state of the Pacific, researching and writing chapters on: the physical science of climate change; impacts and adaptation; mitigation techniques; politics and security; international cooperation; domestic and international legal issues; economics and business; communication through the arts and media; and matters of faith and spirituality.

Who Defines Atoll 'Uninhabitability'?

Carol Farbotko and John Campbell argue that the qualities that make a particular place acceptable to live in are culturally and historically specific, involving local knowledges, cosmologies and place attachments. climate-exposed atoll populations have the right to have their experience and knowledge of habitability - and their perceived
thresholds of uninhabitability - central to science, law, policy and planning that seeks to address sea level rise


Toda Policy Briefs and the Toda Pacific Declaration on Climate Change, Conflict and Peace

a) Toda Declaration on Climate Change, Conflict and Peace

b) Climate Change, Migration and Land in Oceania - John R. Campbell

c) Climate Change, Relocation and Peacebuilding in Fiji: Challenges, Debates and Ways Forward - Volker Boege and Ria Shibata

d) Climate Change, Population Mobility and Relocation in Oceania - John R. Campbell

Part I: Background and Concepts

Part II: Origins, Destinations, and Community Relocation