Addressing climate-fragility risks in Asia

Date Event Venue
19 January 2017 The Roundtable Seminar on “Climate Change and Fragility Implications on International Security” Tokyo, Japan
12 July 2016 IGES-adelphi ISAP session on Addressing Climate Fragility Risks in Asia and Pacific: Challenges and Opportunities for Achieving Sustainable Development Yokohama, Japan
16 June 2016 IGES-adelphi Briefing Session: Climate Fragility Risks in Japan: Briefing Academia, Think Tanks and Civil Society

» Agenda (415KB)

Tokyo, Japan
14 June 2016 IGES-adelphi Expert Workshop on Climate-fragility Risks in Japan: Implications from the Asia and Globe

» Agenda (118KB)
» Speaker Profiles (479KB)

Tokyo, Japan
  1. Climate-fragility Risks - The Global Perspective
  2. Climate-fragility Risks in Asia: The Development Nexus
  3. Climate-fragility Risks in Japan and the Asia-Pacific region
  4. Climate-fragility Risks in Japan: Some Initial Reflections
  5. Climate and Fragility Risks in Japanese Development Cooperation: Implications of Adaptation and Peacebuilding Experiences
  6. Foreign Policy Implications of Climate-fragility Risks for Japan

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Workshops with stakeholders provided great opportunity for a shared understanding on the issue of climate-fragility risks in Asia

Climate change is one of the key global security challenges of the 21st century. It is a ‘threat multiplier’ that will increase state fragility, fuel social unrest and potentially result in violent conflict. Existing state fragility is simultaneously hampering efforts at adaptation, particularly among vulnerable populations. This threatens to lock many societies into ‘fragility traps’.

Japan as part of the Group of 7 (G7) has recognised the resulting challenges for sustainable economic development, peace and stability. In April 2016, under the Japanese G7 presidency and following up to the independent report "A New Climate for Peace: Taking Action on Climate and Fragility Risks" commissioned by G7 members, the foreign ministers of the G7 reiterated their commitment to prioritise prevention of climate-fragility risks, including taking steps to integrate climate-fragility considerations across their national governments.

IGES-adelphi Partnership

To facilitate a broader discussion on climate-fragility risks in Japan and Asia and reflect on and discuss the findings of the G7 report and its implications and relevance for Japan, adelphi and the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies initiated a partnership. Under this partnership, two expert workshops were organised in June 2016. The first workshop took place on 14 June 2016 and brought together 31 Japanese and international experts as well as government representatives. It was followed by a workshop on 16 June 2016 with 15 participants from Japanese civil society. The workshops focused on two central topics:

  • Climate-fragility risks for Japan and the region: What are the direct and indirect impacts of climate change on Japan and the region? Which climate-fragility risks might emerge for Japan and the region? What role do these risks play in terms of disaster risk, and energy, food and water security?
  • Ways to address climate-fragility risks: Which experiences and approaches exist in Japan, regionally and within the G7 to address climate-fragility risks and which approaches are most relevant for Japan in terms of its climate change, development and foreign policy? What are possible short and long-term solutions, actions and entry points for Japan?

This workshop documentation summarises key results of the discussion. It is the first of a series of papers in 2016 that adelphi and IGES are jointly publishing in Japanese and English to foster the debate on climate-fragility risks in Japan (Please see the list of publications above).

Climate-fragility risks for Japan and the Asia-Pacific region

During the workshops, the Japanese and international participants shared the following experiences: a) Risk perception is key for ambitious action; b) Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) is a key strength of Japan; c) Adaptation is a new and quickly developing policy field; d) Fragility and conflict are key development challenges in the region; and e) Political leadership is important. As a result, there is a need for raising more awareness on climate-fragility risks and broadening the risk perception in Asia. One key conclusion of the discussion around emerging risks was that climate-fragility risks are shared across the region and the globe. Japan will unlikely be able to isolate itself from these risks and will be directly and increasingly affected if no appropriate policy responses are formulated in time. A particularly underrated and understudied security challenge is the geopolitical risks that might be exacerbated by climate change. For example, how will the role of China change as it feels the impacts of climate change more severely or what consequences will the additional stress climate change puts on the North Korean regime have? These questions remain largely unexplored, but will be key to further assess the security implications of climate change in the region.

The following climate-fragility risks and related issues were identified during the workshops:

1. Key climate-fragility risks for Asia:

  1. Food and energy import dependency from vulnerable regions could make Japan vulnerable to climatic impacts in producing regions around the world.
  2. Temperature rise and shifting fishing grounds could affect competition around fish resources and might exacerbate already existing conflict dynamics.
  3. Many small island states are already considered fragile today and will face existential threats as climate change impacts increase and sea levels rise. As impacts increase, climate change might act as a risk multiplier pushing these states towards more fragility that might have wide-ranging implications for security in the region by contributing to migration and refugee flows.
  4. Increasing climate change impacts and instability in the region will entail significant supply chain risks for Japan as happened in the case of the 2011 floods in Thailand that impacted the manufacturing capacity of many Japanese companies.

2. Ways forward

  1. Climate change adaptation, disaster risk reduction, humanitarian response, peace building, and development issues need to be integrated into development and foreign policy of countries.
  2. There is a need for integrated risk assessments and better risk communication between stakeholders and between countries with emphasis on risk perception, linking risk to the wider context, and taking action to reduce the risk.
  3. Addressing climate fragility risks is relevant to the ODA policies, and these policies need to incorporate such risks in a more coordinated manner keeping in view both the beneficiary and benefactor countries.

Climate-fragility Risk Index

Climate-fragility of selected countries in Asia and Oceania

A Climate-fragility Risk Index (CFRI) that compared major countries in Asia and Oceania was developed (Prabhakar et al., 2017). CFRI clearly shows that countries differ in the extent and nature of climate-fragility risks (Figure above). This underlines the need for country-specific solutions. The average CFRI for developing countries comprising Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam stood at 0.76 while it was 0.66 for the developed countries comprising Australia, Japan, South Korea. The differences between countries were largely due to variations in exposure to sea level rise (where Vietnam and Thailand are highly vulnerable) and food price volatility (where Pakistan scored highest). There was much less diversity regarding the indicators of internal displacement and regulatory quality of country governance systems. Among the developed countries, Australia showed a relatively high CFRI because of its high exposure to water stress and high food price volatility. Furthermore, the analysis indicated a reasonably close association between CFRI with the per capita GDP of countries suggesting a critical threshold level of per capita income below which countries tend to have higher climate-fragility risks.

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The objectives of the climate-fragility risks initiative at IGES are:

  • To develop relevant case studies, decision-supporting tools and guidelines enabling various stakeholders to take appropriate decisions for addressing climate-fragility risks
  • To raise awareness on climate-fragility risks and capacities in research and policy communities in Japan and Asia through policy advocacy and capacity building programmes including organising consultations and designing well-structured training programmes
  • To identify concrete political entry points to address climate-fragility risks for the foreign and sectoral policies with geopolitical relevance
  • To foster exchange and build networks between the Japanese and international expert communities on climate security
Proposed activities
  • Draft a series of targeted and short discussion papers and case studies by experts on specific topics related to climate security in Asia.
  • Conduct detailed case studies covering various climate-fragility risks and disseminate them to various practitioners and policymakers.
  • Organise symposiums and other briefing events to sensitise and disseminate the results of the research on this subject to a broader audience. These events will target experts, practitioners and policymakers.
  • Develop decision-supporting tools including guidelines and indices such as the Climate-Fragility Risk Index that helps compare different countries and sub-regions for appropriate resource allocation and identify context-specific solutions.
Expected outcomes

We expect that this initiative will initiate the much-needed discussion on the issue of climate-fragility risks among the stakeholders engaged in disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation, international development and national security so that the issue is well integrated into the respective domains.

The Team

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