UNDP’s policy brief, “the climate security nexus and the prevention of violent extremism” draws on recent country level examples and preliminary insights from UNDP’s workstreams on climate security and PVE and identifies various action areas. While it is understood that climate change does not directly and in-and-of-itself cause conflict or violent extremism, the study’s point of departure is the intersection between the root causes of violent extremism and how they intersect with climate vulnerability. A Webinar will share the UNDP study and the outcomes of this discussion will inform next steps.

  1. How does climate change impact contexts and communities affected by violent extremist organizations?
     
  2. How are PVE (prevention and peacebuilding) programmes and plans of action addressing climate change, natural resources and environment sustainability? Are these considered in socio-economic activities through emergency employment and/or livelihoods support?
     
  3. How are climate security risks captured in PVE monitoring strategies and results frameworks, including which indicators and data sources are used?
     
  4. Have you engaged climate change and environmental experts in policy and programming design? In case not, what have been the obstacles to doing so?
     
  5. In which ways can women contribute to addressing climate risks and prevention of violent conflict including violent extremism?
     
  6. What good practices are there engaging youth-led and youth- centered organizations addressing climate risks and prevention of violent conflict including violent extremism?

Comments (42)

Stella m Katiku

 Despite the assiduous efforts by the states to counter violent extremism in the Horn of Africa, Women in these regions have played a significant role in preventing or curbing the spread of violence extremism. Think of the Kenya in the northern part, mombasa and Nairobi. In collaboration with  government and other NGOs programmes tool kit initiated to train them on how to de-radicalise, dconstruct  the youths mind and integrate them in the society. This is done in a special way  for a long term measures would help in knitting the social fabric, through educating, involving them especially the returnees .

Chitra Nagarajan Moderator

Thank you so much for this Stella. Could you tell us more details about what women in the region have done and anything that we can learn from their efforts? What do outside actors (NGOs from elsewhere in the countryINGOs/ government/ UN) need to do to support the work that they have been doing, long before the PVE terminology and framework came to global prominence?

Stella m Katiku

How does climate change impact contexts and communities affected by violent extremist organizations?

Cimate change has become a source of invisible and underlying  insecurity in the region which has changed the dynamics and the way of life in the region and  from food insecurity, disaster , and the source of confict in the community. besides this a lot of inconsistency in the relationship between the organisations and the communities, and governing states. Emergence of  actors with self interests who neither fall in the either of the groups.

There is issues of policy which is not leveraged, top down , seems

Ashley Jackson Moderator

Great points, Stella.

In particular, I think the "invisible" quality of climate change (in contributing to/exacerbating other factors of insecurity) continues to be a difficult thing to deal with in policy terms. We know there is a real relationship between the impact of climate insecurity security, on the one hand, and the drivers of insecurity in many contexts, on the other. 

But how do we effectively convince policy actors to take climate action seriously -- when it still seems to many as abstract or extraneous?

And this is, of course, not helped by the fact that there so often tends to be a short-termist approach to dealing with security issues. Broad generalization, of course (!) but maybe there are some great examples of how to address these dynamics that others might share...?

Catherine Wong

I think definitely as you mention Ashley, there is the challenge of acute versus chronic factors. Risk is important too, our understanding and perception of risk has a decisive role in shaping our response. 

James Blake

I have a piece coming out next week on climate migration and cities - didn't dwell on the PVE too much, but if cities don't act on this now, given what is about to happen with climate migration it may well be catastrophic. Speaking to various businesses to help enact mindset changes.

Catherine Wong

Great to hear about your work on climate migration and cities, James. It would be interesting to hear about observations you might have, for us here, even tangentially.

I think we definitely recognize that mainstreaming is needed in both directions: climate proofing of prevention, peacebuilding and PVE, but then also strengthening conflict sensitivity or ensuring peace positive adaptation and mitigation.

Shiloh Fetzek

So that it's easily accessible, here's the link to the recently-published UNDP brief on climate security and PVE: 

https://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/librarypage/climate-and-disas…

To Ashley's question on making the case for these linkages, and Stella's earlier points, I think the storytelling component, and continuing to build out the evidence base through more grounded research, will be key in raising awareness with policy actors. As discussed in the launch event for this SparkBlue, unfortunately the story of how climate and environmental change affect conflict dynamics will continue to write itself.

The tricky part is communicating the nuance, because people tend to hear direct causality even when that’s not what’s being suggested, and sometimes have a ‘fifth horseman of the apocalypse’ reaction. As a research community I think we’re still working to get this right – how to raise a very serious warning without triggering misdiagnosis and maladaptative responses. This is partly why, for quite a while there was a hesitancy to talk about climate security and terrorism, before ISWAP and others started making the case more ‘visible.’

As we go forward and see more situations emerge, I think we’ll need to pay more attention to narratives – getting them right, getting them out there and contingency planning around how they are used.

Adriana Abdenur

These comments underscore the importance of context-specific research to show the concrete links, or even (thus far) lack thereof.  And of balancing climate sensitive responses to more immediate-cause responses. The context I am familiar with, with respect to PVE, is Latin America and the Caribbean. I am thinking of Trinidad and Tobago, from where hundreds signed up to fight with ISIS, but featuring a very different pattern from other ISIS recruits, with respect to age, gender composition and cluster size (most of the recruits went to Syria as entire families, rather than individuals).  It is tempting to make the link to extreme weather events like hurricanes--I have been at meetings where people raised this as an assumption--but the literature points at family ties and one specific extremist group in T&T, linked to specific political events.  These are not mutually exclusive with climate, but if the policy focus ends up focusing excessively on climate, the proximate factors may be overlooked or underestimated.  I mention this because in the Caribbean climate financing is relatively abundant, at least when compared with  other parts of the world marked by VE issues-- but there are few resources for security.  (Which I understand is quite different from some African subregions, for instance.)

Ashley Jackson Moderator

Absolutely, a very important point about context (that, in turn, underscores Shiloh's points about nuance). My brilliant colleagues at ODI, Katie Peters, recently led a deep-dive through the existing lit on climate and conflict. One of the conclusions I found most striking was around the importance of context, and how easily that is often forgotten or misconstrued (or, indeed, distorted for political or material gain). 

Your comments on Trinidad and Tobago reminded me of this -- insecurity in a given time/place is driven by various micro/meso/macro factors inevitably tied to that context. Climate insecurity, and its consequences, might be one of those factors -- but that nuance and contextuality is important to hold onto in broader discussions.

Chitra Nagarajan Moderator

Thank you very much for this comment Adriana. Is there any evidence or research in the Trinidad and Tobago context (or Latin America and the Caribbean more broadly) on the interaction between recruitment into jihadi groups (or any other aspects around religious fundamentalism/ violent extremism) and climate change/ extreme weather events?

Shiloh Fetzek

Chitra Nagarajan 

Hey Chitra, there's not very much out there on Trinidad & Tobago so far. It's a really interesting case and definitely warrants further study - heartily agree with @Adriana Abdenur's comment. 

I did a brief for the 2019 Planetary Security Initiative that touched on T&T's VEOs, noting some of the contextual issues around climate vulnerabilities and economic contraction, the nexus between VEOs and organised crime, amid T&T's challenges with food import dependency, water security, and exposure to changing energy markets as 40% of their GDP comes from oil exports.

I don't think storms are necessarily a driver, but I expect some of these other challenges in the context of a changing climate, and how they impact the region (including Venezuela and Colombia) could reflect on the security dynamics in Trinidad & Tobago. 

Adriana Abdenur

Chitra Nagarajan Hi Chitra, for one consulting project our group worked with colleagues from the region to analyze correlations between extreme weather events and VE and did not find an association.  It's also worth remembering that other islands in the Caribbean have been subject to far more intense extreme weather events but have not had VE cases, which underscores the importance of the interaction between factors.

We should be careful not to select on the dependent variable--although my sense is, this happens often with the international community's interest in VE.

Chitra Nagarajan Moderator

Shiloh Fetzek Thank you Shiloh. Would you be able to share a link to the briefing that you did on this subject?

Ashley Jackson Moderator

Good morning, and happy Monday to everyone! I thought I'd start off the week by summing up some key strands of discussion so far. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, a lot of the posts referenced the importance of nuance and context -- both of which can so often get lost in discussions of climate and security/PVE (particularly at a general level).

Several people emphasized the importance of rooting our analysis in specific contexts, and of storytelling, both of which can help nuance interpretations of causality and understandings of how climate interacts with other factors in insecure environments (i.e. poverty, direct violence, migration, disenfranchisement). Catherine also raised the need for nuance in talking about climate itself (i.e., acute vs. chronic). 

Of course, this brings us back to some of the original questions up top, and raises some related ones:

  • I wonder how others have seen some of the dilemmas this throws up manifest in policy and programming?
  • At the policy level, how do you nuance a global narrative that tends to brush over contextual differences, and often risks implying causal links that are more complex in reality?
  • How do we adapt learning across contexts?
  • And how have different program strategies for engaging on the issues, and monitoring impact, worked on the ground?

Look forward to hearing everyone's thoughts!

Catherine Wong

Thanks Ashley, I think these are really interesting points.

When Nika Saeedi and I worked with colleagues on a consultation and the policy brief, we found there is more attention to PVE in climate security programming, than the the way round. This may suggest asymetric needs or gaps perhaps. But I would also probably note as a caveat that it was an initial and exploratory exercise, a more systematic review process might uncover other findings.

It would also be interesting to hear how ODI is connecting the dots between its PVE and climate security work.

Nika Saeedi Moderator

Thanks a lot Ashley for this great summary. It’s important to look at programme strategies for engaging relevant actors including,environmentalist, CSO and grassroots organisations focusing on climate change, as well as national and local government actors, and to ensure a participatory approach to monitoring impact.

Ashley Jackson Moderator

Catherine Wong Well, my colleagues in our Global Risks & Resilience Unit are the real experts here (and I've just nudged them to come join us!). But one thing I'm impressed by is the way they have tried to really root their work in what the evidence says (or doesn't say), and deep contextual understanding/fieldwork. 

ODI colleagues Leigh Mayhew and Aoife McCullough did a deep dive into livelihoods choices among armed actors and smugglers in Niger - and how climate-related events/risks played into those choices (or not). It touches on some of the themes in James's article below, but really at the micro level. They use life history data to look at longer term trends - for ex., the smugglers fathers (and father's fathers) started a shift out of pastoralism, driven in part by what we would call climate factors, and how that has shaped their options today. It does a good job of bringing out how global economic integration (Chinese mining, in particular), longer term climate factors and an array of other factors interact to produce these behaviours. 

Here's a link to the report for those interested: When rising temperatures don't lead to rising tempers: climate and insecurity in Niger

Beatrice Mosello

Thanks Ashley for the very useful and great summary! And to everyone for your thoughts and discussion - really interesting insights! On different program strategies to address these complex linkages: we've actually done some research looking at existing peacebuilding and climate change adaptation programs to highlight best practices and learnings on 'integrating programming' (i.e. programming that seeks to build resilience to both climate impacts and insecurity and conflict simultaneously). 

We found that, although interventions and strategies need to be designed in a context-specific way, there are some general entry points for integrated peacebuilding and climate resilience programming that seem to be working across programs. These include: i) focusing on improving access, restoration and management of natural resources – these can help achieve livelihood security, adaptation, but can also be used as entry points to bring together communities, groups that were previously in conflict; ii) supporting climate-resilient and sustainable and diversified livelihoods – as we know that if livelihoods and food security are threatened, the risk of violence and conflict can be amplified - especially in those contexts where these are heavily dependent on natural resources and hence vulnerable to climate change impacts; iii) focusing on strengthening social cohesion between and within groups; iv) working towards more legitimate, inclusive and efficient governance systems; and v) addressing exclusion and marginalisation.

We also found that in addition to what you do, it is important to consider HOW you do it. Best practice here points to the importance of conducting integrated analyses (very much to Ashley's point about the importance of context-specificity), adopting a participatory and conflict-sensitive approach, and measuring the results and being flexible to learn and adapt.

You can find the report here

Chitra Nagarajan Moderator

Ashley Jackson Thank you so much Ashley for sharing the results of this report - I completely agree on the need to root analysis (and policy and programming) in evidence and the context (specifically in the past experiences, current realities, and voices of people most affected).

Karolina Eklöw

Thank you, Ashley, for such a useful summary! 

Chitra Nagarajan Moderator

Good morning/ afternoon/ evening everyone. It's my pleasure to take over moderation for the coming week. Thank you all for your insightful and thought provoking comments so far - and to Ashley for your summary earlier on in the week.

I am very much looking forward to the discussion over the next few weeks. A reminder of our guiding questions:

  1. How does climate change impact contexts and communities affected by violent extremist organizations?
     
  2. How are PVE (prevention and peacebuilding) programmes and plans of action addressing climate change, natural resources and environment sustainability? Are these considered in socio-economic activities through emergency employment and/or livelihoods support?
     
  3. How are climate security risks captured in PVE monitoring strategies and results frameworks, including which indicators and data sources are used?
     
  4. Have you engaged climate change and environmental experts in policy and programming design? In case not, what have been the obstacles to doing so?
     
  5. In which ways can women contribute to addressing climate risks and prevention of violent conflict including violent extremism?
     
  6. What good practices are there engaging youth-led and youth- centered organizations addressing climate risks and prevention of violent conflict including violent extremism?

I would be particularly interested in hearing from people about emerging programmatic and policy practice - and how we can ensure gender and youth transformational approaches (that look both at women's rights and agency, at masculinities and at impacts on people of all genders and ages).

Stella m Katiku

Resolution,1325 on women rights on the peace security and development, very little has been done especially in the war torn zones. Women are not empowered, not educuted and those who are educated to a chance to join in those organization it's always very hard to join, how many percentage of women in the UNSC ? The idea that women can make effective decision is always underestimated, we women emancipation in the system, so many of them are out there doing alot to prevent violent extremism  and deradicalisation in the society.

The culture of patriarchal system in some region has played a role in suppress gender.

Thibaut Girault

1. How does climate change impact contexts and communities affected by violent extremist organizations?

I want to contribute to this debate with a very specific example, which is Sidi Hassine, a suburban area of Tunis city.

Sidine Hassine is located along Sijoumi lake, the biggest saltwater lagoon of Tunis area, very well known for its biodiversity. In the other side of the lake, you can find the Médina of Tunis where the office of the Prime Minister is located, as well as other key ministries. I also live on this side of the lake and very often see the colonies of flamingoes passing over my rooftop to make a stop at Sijoumi.

A recent study shows that the total surface area which is permanently covered by water in the Sijoumi lake has decreased from 52,40% of the total surface area in 1987, to only 4,13% in 2018. Leaving behind a moist environment, the Sijoumi lake is not famous only for its flamingoes any more, but also for the stinky smell and colonies of mosquitoes that affect the daily life of the inhabitants of Sidi Hassine.

The deterioration of the close environment of Sidi Hassine inhabitants actually fuels a more general sense of marginalization. While public services in the health and education sectors perform less and less efficiently and while police brutality has become a daily issue in this municipality, its inhabitants feel a growing sense of social injustice and grievances towards the State. As the State has failed in developping and implementing a strategic action plan to mitigate the negative impact of climate change on the Sijoumi lake, the colonies of mosquitoes have become a symbol and daily reminder of this marginalization.

Sidi Hassine has also been "portrayed" as one of the main suburban area of Tunis where violent extremist organizations recruited young people. I insist on the word "portrayed" because there is no evidence and quantitative comparative data to back this assumption. Yet, the municipality has witnessed a large number of PVE projects implemented by international organizations and local CSOs (none of them have taken into account the climate security perspective). The needs assessment of these projects highlight conducive factors of violent extremism that also relate to the sense of marginalization that I mentionned above.

With this specific example, I wanted to share a reflection on the intersection between governance factors of climate vulnerability and the root causes of violent extremism that relate to citizens-state relationships. For those of you who can read French, you can find the above-mmentionned study attached, and read this interesting documentary about Sidi Hassine : https://nawaat.org/2019/10/18/territoire-marginal-sidi-hassine-au-bord-…

 

Tobias von Lossow Moderator

Thank you, Thibaut Girault, for this example. It perfectly illustrates how (non)governance at the climate security interface is simultaneously "part of the problem and the solution". 

Tobias von Lossow Moderator

Hello everyone - good morning, afternoon & evening! I take over the moderation for the coming week and I am looking forward to continuing this interesting and insightful debate. I am particularly interested in concrete examples and how programming can address several challenges simultaneously.

To stir the discussion a little bit, I would like to "offer" the following questions:

  • Touching upon the above stressed dimensions of context, narrative, storytelling, nuances, acute & chronic factors (and related short-term and long-term challenges): How do the actors matter? Which roles play, for instance, international organizations, "the" state, the citizens and extremist recruits in shaping these dimensions?
  • Mainstreaming climate security in PVE - a chance and a risk? Does climate security receive more attention - context-specific, in the right narratives, etc., or will the broad term prevent concrete action in certain policy fields?
  • What can we learn from contexts in which climate change does not affect VE? Can such findings help to address the link between climate security and VE elsewhere?

I am looking forward to the discussion!

Catherine Wong

Hi Tobias, would agree, the actors are really important. While we want to avoid questions of causality; to mainstream climate security, we somehow have make it relevant it to specific workstreams. We found little consideration in PVE policy and programming of climate risks,  even in relation to livelihoods, reintegration and initiatives implemented in highly climate-affected contexts, etc. References were tangential at best. I think some targeting of actors, not just climate or conflict prevention/peacebuilding communities as monoliths, would help operationalize. But I wonder what other colleagues' experiences are...

A great point you make also about considering the counterfactual.

Catherine Wong

Responding the question on risk (with another question!), it was great to see Clingendael's study, I wonder @TobiasvonLossow, what you think about the lessons learnt and how we can avoid securitization or militarization here?  

Tobias von Lossow Moderator

Catherine Wong, thanks for bringing this in... I think it is important to acknowledge that securitization and militarization are a part of the reality. The 1990s, the 2000s and the 2010s have repeatedly seen 'waves of securitization'. Whether we like it or not, the more vital question is how to deal with it: how to utilize such trends while making sure that related programming and action really serves the purpose and preventing potential 'abuse' of the climate security narratives. 

Abdullahi Murtala

Insightful conversation on climate security and PVE. 

 

I would like to get your thoughts on the Great Green wall provides and PVE

Catherine Wong

Hi Abdullahi Murtala, thanks so much for highlighting this! Glad you brought this up. 

I really like this now decade-plus old initiative, its inclusive approaches, targeting youth, returnees, ex-combattants etc, land rehabilitation, Sahel-wide focus that has evolved over the years and with the times under the leadership of the AUC and partners. Sharing a Time article here.

The 3S initiative also really speaks to and addresses the issues.

Nika Saeedi Moderator

Hello everyone, I take over the moderation for the coming week and I am looking forward to continuing this interesting and insightful discussion.

I lead UNDP’s work on PVE based in NYC, and in addition to the questiona shared for the purpose of this e-consultation, I’m exploring how to incorporate climate change risks in PVE programming and make our programmes more inclusive. Here are the questions that I have in mind and would be great to hear form you.

To assess how PVE  Programmes that offer socio-economic activities through emergency employment and/or livelihoods support, address climate change, natural resources and environment sustainability

To examine the scope, participation and design process in development and implementation of PVE Programmes

o   National authorities i.e., Ministries of Agriculture, Environment, Climate Change, Land and/or Water

o   NGOs/CSOs working on climate change and natural resource management

  • Other environmental and climate change expertise, including academia and independent researchers.

To identify whether and how climate security risks feature in project monitoring strategies and results frameworks, including which indicators and data sources are used.

I am looking forward to the discussion!

Thibaut Girault

Hello !

Just sharing information on the Tunisian context in relation to the 2nd question you are raising (participation of actors in PVE programming). At policy-making level, a National Counter-Terrorism Commission (NCTC) was established in 2015-2016 under the office of the Prime Minister ; this is an interministerial committee (16 member Ministries) in which the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Ressources is represented.

Yet, its participation within the commission is mostly justified by security issues. This Ministry is in charge of the management of forestry parks in the North-Western area of the country where insurgent VE groups established temporary camps in 2013-2014, and from where they have organized a few attacks (e.g : July 2018 when 8 National Gard officers where killed in an embush). Therefore, the Ministry's participation within the NCTC has mostly focused on improving coordination between security forces and forest rangers in these parks. The representative of the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Ressources in the NCTC has thus more a security background and is not familiar with climate change issues that are dealt with by other administrations within his Ministry.

The lesson I draw from this example is as follows: since government coordination mechanisms on PVE are often also covering CT and security issues, the security agenda tends to prevail when Ministries appoint a representative in such mechanism. These later ones are less likely to be aware of the possible intersections between the PVE and the climate security agenda as they are less familiar with these two programmatic areas.

This brings me to an open question : what entry points can be useful to bring the PVE / climate security nexus debate to the table of policy makers at national level ?

Shiloh Fetzek

Thibaut Girault you make an excellent point about the need for CT approaches to violent extremism to be cognizant of how push/pull factors and other dynamics can be sensitive to climate impacts, and therefore how best to approach the problem.

This illustrates the value of having widespread literacy on climate security dynamics, including across the traditional and non-traditional security communities - defense & intelligence, HDP actors, everyone in between - to get the right diagnosis and treatment, and put resources where they're most effective. 

Good cross-sectoral communication and engagement is important for this.

Nika Saeedi Moderator

Thanks Thibaut. Thanks for sharing the Tunisian example. Regarding your question on" entry points that can bring the PVE / climate security nexus debate to the table of policy makers at national level", one area to consider is to use the process around developing National and Regional Plans of Action to prevent violent extremism. So far these plans have made a very minimal reference to climate change risk. 

Adriana Abdenur

Our discussion so far has focused on developing countries. Are there good examples of PVE programs that take into account climate risks, focusing on rich countries?  Here in the Americas, for instance, there are expanding threats from white supremacist groups in the United States-- are there studies of whether/how climate change in North America may be shaping patterns of violent extremism there?  

Shiloh Fetzek

Interesting question, I don't think we're there yet. Although there are probably studies that look at the history of white supremacist violence and changes to the natural resource base and agricultural economies... For 21st century, these issues are still emerging. But it would be an interesting one to watch, e.g. around vigilante groups that patrol the Mexican border, etc. - broader context of CC stuff, but looking at their narratives etc.


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