In cooperation with adelphi, the KlimaCampus Research Group “Climate Change and Security” (CLISEC) at the University of Hamburg, and the Institute for Peace and Security Research Hamburg (IFSH), the Federal Foreign Office invited experts from the region to the forum.
The upheavals in the countries of the southern Mediterranean area are not just political. These countries are also among those that will be most affected by climate change. Water scarcity and diminishing agricultural production combined with quickly growing populations pose great challenges for the region. The effects of migration movements are hard to predict.External actors can provide crucial support for the further development of regional cooperation mechanisms. In particular, a strengthened commitment on the part of the EU and its member states could have positive effects.
The region might receive a boost from the strengthening of sustainable agricultural production and from the generation and use of renewable energies. At the same time, the political upheavals in the region also present new opportunities for cooperative and innovative strategies for adapting to climate change.
The SEKEM project was presented as an example of how sustainability can be practiced and can help prevent conflicts. Since 1977, 2500 Egyptians have been testing a way of life in which economic development, sustainable and resource-friendly agricultural production, education and social activity can be put into practice harmoniously. The Federal Foreign Office promotes the regional networking of these and other similar initiatives in the region with a view to conflict prevention.
In Tunisia, a misguided agricultural policy that did not effectively fight poverty was named, among other things, as a trigger for the revolution. This sector is still of special importance to the entire region. To combat the serious effects of climate change, it is necessary to turn towards sustainable agriculture. Also in the water and energy sectors it is necessary to develop constructive strategies for combating the problems and also to connect concepts of sustainable and preventative peacekeeping with each other.
At the regional level there are already a number of approaches to managing resources, mainly in the water and energy sectors. Their ability to solve problems could still be expanded further and has suffered in the past from both the political situation and lack of transparency in the region. The Arab Spring might provide the necessary push to more effective transboundary management of scarce resources. It is also necessary to integrate the effects of climate change into their work more systematically.
Further dialogue forums in 2011 will focus on Central Asia, South Asia, and Central America. They are part of an international dialogue process on the effects of climate change on security policy taking place also at UN level.