News | August 27, 2018

Expert Working Group Releases Report on Climate-Related Security Risks in Iraq

Kawa Hassan is co-author of a research report on Iraq which aims to provide climate-related security risk assessments and recommend management strategies relevant for Iraq. The report is produced as a product of the Expert Working Group on Climate-related Security Risks, established with the aim to address the implications of climate-related security risks on international institutions that manage peace and security. 

This report was used in July 2018 UN Security Council debate on nexus between climate change and security, brought forward under Swedish Presidency of the Council. 

The expert working-group seeks to highlight the gap in climate risk informed decision-making and strives to produce timely climate security assessments. The aim of the expert working group is to:

  • Produce unbranded high-quality and policy-relevant assessments of climate-related security risks for geographies under discussion in peace and security institutions
  • Strengthen decision-making and programming on climate-related security risks in the United Nations (UN) system
  • Support the creation of an institutional home in the UN system to develop climate-related risk assessments and risk management strategies

Why this geography: Iraq is exposed to three major threats: terrorism, corruption and climate change. Whilst the first two have received considerable attention, the climate-related security risks facing Iraq have only begun rising up on the agenda. To tackle security threats facing the post-ISIS Iraq, terrorism, socio-political and economic challenges need to be addressed interlinked with climate-related security risks. Iraq is one of the Middle East’s most climate vulnerable countries yet there is a gap addressing a comprehensive (climate) security analysis taking in to account the interconnected risks of the above challenges.

The report highlights five key current and emerging risks that increase:

  1. Diminished agricultural livelihoods increase local support for terrorist groups;
  2. Insufficient governance capacity to address and respond to climate change and environmental degradation;
  3. Increased dependence on water flows from riparian neighbours and regional stability;
  4. Mass displacement and forced migration; and 
  5. Heightened communal tensions over access to food and water. 

This report recommends the following actions for the UN Assistance Mission to Iraq (UNAMI) and other international bodies in order to better address climate-related security risks in Iraq: 

  1. Monitor climate-related security risks and provide regular briefings to the Security Council;
  2. Conduct scenario-based workshops to build Iraqi capacity and understanding of the short- and medium-term climate-related security risks;
  3. Provide technical support for regional dialogues to find solutions to water and environmental challenges; and
  4. Support the Iraqi authorities in integrating climate-induced displacement, economic vulnerability and socio-economic instability into post-ISIS recovery plans. 

Click here to download the report.

Image: Wikimedia Commons