Climate protection and peace are two sides of the same coin: Berlin Climate and Security Conference

04/06/2019 –Climate change knows no borders, and climate crises can affect security, ranging from food security and displacement to an increasing number of natural disasters. Indeed, a destabilised Earth system can make peace harder to achieve and sustain, and may even be a contributing factor to new violent conflicts. This makes our climate a foreign policy issue. In cooperation with the Federal Foreign Office and the think tank adelphi, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research has initiated the Berlin Climate and Security Conference to provide a forum for this rising issue. The summit will gather support for the “Berlin Call for Action”, directed at every foreign policy institution to step up efforts to address one of the greatest global security and foreign policy challenges of the 21st century: Climate change.
Climate protection and peace are two sides of the same coin: Berlin Climate and Security Conference

PIK directors Johan Rockström and Ottmar Edenhofer gave a joint opening keynote in the conference’s first panel on “Climate Change – A Risk to Global Security”. “In 2018, the Earth handed us a big bill for what we are doing to our own planet: The dry summer in Germany, rain floods in Japan, hurricanes in the Caribbean, forest fires in the USA. Extreme weather hits people all over the world, destroys lives, threatens livelihoods, and devours huge sums of money. We must take action against the climate crisis, and we must do it now” Rockström put forward. Edenhofer added: “Indeed, particularly we Europeans must work together to keep up the pace - especially as others question their commitments under the Paris climate agreement. Giving greenhouse gases a fair price is a crucial instrument here - and this worldwide and in various development contexts. Used wisely, the resources thus gained can promote stability and development, for example through investments in health care and sustainable infrastructure.”

"Berlin Call for Action" identifies three main areas of action

The conference was opened jointly by the German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, former US Secretary of State John Kerry, and the President of Nauru Baron Waqa. Eight Foreign Ministers and more than 25 delegations were present at the high-level meeting. Germany is currently non-permanent member of the UN Security Council and has made climate and security one of its two-year term’s top policy priorities. As to the motivation to hold this conference, the Foreign Office informs: “Only a fact-based policy resting on scientific evidence can develop sustainable solutions.” The list of speakers further included the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grande, Margot Wallström, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, and Wolfgang Ischinger, who is Chairman of the Munich Security Conference, amongst many others.

Together, the participants drafted the “Berlin Call for Action”. They gathered their input along three main areas of action: First, they advise to take a thorough global risk analysis into account for all policy planning. Potentially disastrous effects of climate change or other macro-stresses on the environment should be factored into all policy fields, from security policy to trade, investments, development cooperation, and beyond. Secondly, they call for better equipping international institutions dealing with climate-induced catastrophes. This goes for international climate finance institutions, development banks and regional organizations, but equally for national agencies responsible for implementation, and for bilateral trade and investment agreements. Thirdly, the signatories request more efforts in connecting the still too separate policy fields of international security and peacebuilding on the one hand and sustainable development and climate policies on the other hand.

Weblink to the joint Op-Ed by German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, Ottmar Edenhofer and Johan Rockström in ZEIT Online (in German):

Weblink to the Berlin Call for Action:

Weblink to the conference background paper: