Policy Briefs Books Journals

Policy Briefs on Climate Change and Conflict

Climate Change and Conflict

Climate Change and Urbanisation in Pacific Island Countries

Policy Brief  No.49 - September, 2019

Rates of urbanisation vary considerably among the 22 Pacific Island countries and territories, some of which have among the highest population densities in the world despite these countries being relatively small. Growth in the number of urban residents has led to the emergence of informal settlements on sites which are often on marginal land that is highly exposed to the effects of extreme events. It is likely that climate change will cause greater numbers of people to migrate to urban areas as their home locations become increasingly less habitable. Many will find themselves again living in exposed locations. Additionally, having little land tenure security, high levels of unemployment or underemployment, crowding, lack of infrastructure, crime and lack of access to land for food are likely to render many of these migrants vulnerable to the effects of climate change. As climate change continues to unfold, urban areas in the Pacific Islands region may find themselves particularly at risk. Urban planning which takes the likelihood of climate change into account is critically important.

Climate Change and Conflict

Urbanisation and Natural Disasters in Pacific Island Countries

Policy Brief  No.46 - September, 2019

The growth of urban populations in Pacific Island Countries is reflected in growing numbers of informal settlements with high levels of exposure and vulnerability to natural disasters. As urban populations grow and become increasingly dense, with large numbers living in informal settlements, the potential for major catastrophes is increasing. Despite this, most disaster risk management throughout the region still focuses on rural areas, reflecting historical practices and experience and some political preference for rural areas. There is a greater need in the region to develop measures that reduce people’s exposure to hazardous events in towns and cities, mostly by incorporating urban planning measures that discourage settlement in marginal and hazard-prone areas. This will be challenging given the complexity of land tenure arrangements throughout the region. It is also important that the root causes of people’s vulnerabilities are addressed, so that the processes by which they come to live in unsafe conditions can be understood and measures introduced to reduce people’s risks and losses. This policy brief focuses discussion on urban communities and concludes by outlining a number of activities which would contribute to reducing people’s exposure to hazardous events in Pacific Island towns and cities.

Climate Change and Conflict

Toda Pacific Declaration on Climate Change, Conflict and Peace

Declaration  No.41 - May, 2019

In September 2018, the Toda Peace Institute and the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (University of Otago, New Zealand) conducted a workshop on “Climate Change and Conflict in the Pacific: Prevention, Management and the Enhancement of Community Resilience” in Auckland, New Zealand. Flowing from the debates and findings of that workshop, a draft of the ‘Toda Pacific Declaration on Climate Change, Conflict and Peace’ was elaborated and opened for comment. After an extensive and comprehensive process of discussion and several iterations of the draft, the Declaration was launched on 26 July 2019. The Declaration has been contributed to by many academics, policymakers, peacebuilding practitioners and civil society actors concerned about the challenges and potential conflict linkages posed by climatic uncertainty in the Pacific. In particular, Toda is grateful to the lead authors Volker Boege, John Campbell, Kevin Clements, Kirsten Davies and Upolo Luma Vaai.

Climate Change and Conflict

Climate Change, Migration and Land in Oceania

Policy Brief  No.37 - April, 2019

Over 90 per cent of land in Pacific Islands is held in a range of customary forms of communal ownership, belonging as much to past and future generations as it does to the present. In most cases it cannot be bought or sold although some countries have provisions for longterm leases. Land is a critical component of Pacific Island societies and in most places the people and their land are mutually constituted. One cannot be considered complete without the other. Climate change poses two broad problems in relation to this union. First, it may damage the land so that its ability to support its people is curtailed or even destroyed. This will not only have serious implications for the material security of the affected communities but may also affect their emotional and spiritual wellbeing. It is likely that many people will be induced or forced to leave their ancestral lands and find new homes. Second, relocation and resettlement of individual families, and in some cases whole communities, will require new land to be found, a task that will be made difficult because other communities are unable to sell or give their land away. Where there has been significant in-migration to areas in the region, tensions and conflict have often arisen, frequently with land as a significant underlying issue. Finding durable solutions for climate change migrants is likely to be a critical issue in the future.

Climate Change and Conflict

Climate change, Conflict and Peacebuilding in Solomon Islands

Policy Brief  No.36 - March, 2019

This paper considers the conflict impacts of climate change and outlines potential opportunities for peacebuilding in Solomon Islands, a small independent state in the region of Oceania. Climate change is not viewed here as a standalone issue but as an embedded dimension of contemporary environmental, political, social, economic, and cosmological/spiritual settings.