Sustaining Peace Amidst the Climate Crisis: PIK Scientists at the Federal Foreign Office

05/04/2022 - How can data and innovative technologies be used for climate protection and crisis prevention?
Sustaining Peace Amidst the Climate Crisis: PIK Scientists at the Federal Foreign Office
Lisa Binder, PIK

That was the guiding question of the conference "Sustaining Peace Amidst the Climate Crisis: The Role of Data Science, Technology & Innovation," which the German Federal Foreign Office co-hosted with the U.S. Department of State on May 2nd and 3rd. Speakers included German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and PIK scientists Dr. Barbora Šedová and Prof. Dr. Christoph Gornott.

The effects of climate change pose a direct threat to peace and stability in many parts of the world. Extreme weather such as droughts, floods, and storms are already threatening the livelihoods of many people. Climate change will exacerbate these dynamics in the future. The aim of the conference was to develop science-based responses with a view to prevention, resilience and adaptation to climate change and to build on previous initiatives.

PIK researcher Dr. Šedová spoke at the conference on how climate change affects mobility and migration. Questions addressed included: in which regions are people predicted to be most affected by climate mobility, and what are their motivations for leaving their homes? How do people move across regions (e.g., regional migration, circular migration, off-continent migration), and what are local attitudes toward mobility as an adaptation strategy? At PIK, Dr. Barbora Šedová (co-)leads the FutureLab - Security, Ethnic Conflicts and Migration.  At the same time, she is the lead of the Weathering Risk initiative on climate change impacts on risk of conflict, conducted together with adelphi and commissioned by the German Federal Foreign Office.

PIK researcher Prof. Dr. Christoph Gornott spoke on data availability as the bottleneck of every model, on the backdrop of what data science can do in order to predict climate-related human insecurity and conflict. Drawing from the input of diverse approaches in overcoming data gaps, the panel with Prof. Gornott discussed where the potentials lie in improving data coverage and access. These include not only increased localized coding in order to better account for the transnational effects of climate change, but also the use of satellite imagery and geospatial data for prediction models. Gornott leads the Adaptation in Agricultural Systems Working Group at PIK and holds the Chair of the department Agroecosystem Analysis and Modelling at the University of Kassel.

German Foreign Minister Baerbock highlighted the importance of scientific data analysis in her speech at the conference: "If we know where and when extreme weather events are likely to occur, we can better gear our response – not just to rebuild retroactively, but to protect proactively:" As tools for early warning systems Scientific analysis, "Big Data" and artificial intelligence could help to save lives, the foreign minister said.

According to the Foreign Ministry, the results of the conference will feed into the meeting of G7 foreign ministers chaired by Germany in May, the Berlin Climate & Security Conference in November and initiatives at the 27th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27).


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