FutureLab - Security, Ethnic Conflicts and Migration


FutureLab on Security, Ethnic Conflicts and Migration

Lead: Jacob Schewe, Barbora Sedova

Team: Albano Rikani, Lucas Kluge, Benedikt Mester

Research questions:

How does climate change affect human security, conflict, migration, and the interaction between those phenomena?

In particular:

  • How are climate impacts connected to the drivers of migration and conflict?
  • What are the intervening variables determining whether environmental changes lead to peaceful or conflictual responses?
  • How will future climate change affect the risk of violent conflict for different regions and populations?

The research community has made enormous progress in understanding and describing the impacts of climate change on numerous natural systems and economic sectors, such as agriculture, water resources, or weather-related extreme events. However, a fundamental question concerning climate change is whether it undermines people’s ability to lead prosperous, dignified, and peaceful lives. The answer to this question determines to a great extent whether or not one should be concerned about changes in the physical environment. A number of recent studies pointed to climate change regionally increasing the risk of ethnic conflict and civil war, but there is still too little evidence to develop a general understanding of these relationships and to comprehensively assess the security risks from ongoing climate change. At the same time, human migration and displacement are also influenced by climatic factors, even though not all of these influences have been quantified. 

With this FutureLab, PIK kick-starts dedicated research on the implications of climate change for human security and conflict, accounting for the potential role of human migration and displacement both as a driver and an outcome of conflict. A quantitative understanding the climate-conflict-migration nexus requires a high level of integration of natural and social sciences, something that PIK is well placed to achieving. The FutureLab is hosted by RD3 and collaborates with RD4. It applies methods ranging from economic and social theories of conflict and migration; to physical modelling of climate change impacts; to innovative methods for analysing large amounts of data. The FutureLab will draw on the migration modeling capacities developed in the Working Group on Climate Impacts on Human Population Dynamics (RD3), and a combination of machine-learning- and big-data methods developed in RD4.