The news is awash with reports of the devastating and destructive impact of environmental climate change – dramatic flooding, droughts and forest fires. What these reports too often omit is how environmental shocks are exacerbating conflict and multiplying humanitarian crises in contexts of war.
Fragile and conflict-affected states are far more likely to be vulnerable to the effects of climate change and are less likely to be able to react. They are also the least prepared to adapt in the future. This has meant additional loss of life and livelihoods and the prospect of an even bleaker future for countries in conflict.
It is for this reason that we argue the critical importance of bringing together the agendas of peace and the environment and the need to integrate discussions about adaptation planning and other key issues at the early stages and throughout peace talks.
While this agenda can easily be subsumed under concerns that are often deemed more pressing in a peace process, we push it to the side at our own peril. The speed of climate change is such, that it is outpacing our ability to muster plans to deliver solutions.
There is a need to act fast without delay, and we believe the empowerment and centring of local environmental actors to be an important vehicle for this. They can be seen and be positioned as legitimate national actors. As such, they have the right to be at the negotiating table to shape their country’s future.
In this assessment, we zone in on the situation in Yemen, one of the most fragile states in the world and one which is also most sensitive to climate risk.