Launch: Regional consultation on climate change and security in South-Eastern Europe

What security challenges will climate change bring to South-Eastern Europe? Some 80 participants representing a wide variety of sectors and stakeholders from the OSCE participating states convened on 27 May 2020 in an online webinar to discuss climate change and security in the region.

28/05/2020

This introductory meeting, organised by the Office of the Co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities in partnership with adelphi, kicks off a regional consultation process on climate change and security.

South-Eastern European states want more regional co-operation

Naser Nuredini, Minister of Environment and Physical Planning of North Macedonia, underlined in his opening remarks that the COVID-19 crisis has shown the importance of regional co-operation in order to overcome the difficult challenges arising from a pandemic.

“Climate change will be a significant security risk for the region and we must work together to overcome these risks,” said Nuredini. “Finding long-term solutions to climate change will help us all comply with the requirements on the path to the EU. Working together on this issue will prove pivotal for the integration with the EU.”

Global phenomena need co-operative responses

Vuk Žugić, Co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities, drew attention to some similarities between the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change. Both, he said, are global and do not recognise borders. Both could have implications for security and stability, and both require a co-operative response.

“Possibly, a major difference between the current pandemic and climate change is the pace at which they develop: COVID-19 has hit the world suddenly, whereas climate change has been happening gradually,” he said. “With today’s initiative, the OSCE aims to create new avenues for transboundary and regional co-operation in South-Eastern Europe. This will be our contribution to broader efforts for a transition to greener and climate-resilient economies and societies in the region.”

Exacerbated challenges

Lukas Rüttinger, Senior Project Manager at adelphi, highlighted the linkages between climate change and security and their relevance for South-Eastern Europe. “Climate change acts as a risk multiplier, exacerbating other challenges. Because the region has so many shared, transboundary natural resources like rivers and forests, it is important to strengthen co-operation around climate change and security,” he said.

The introductory session will be followed by interactive events in smaller groups and online surveys with the stakeholders from South-Eastern Europe in the weeks to come.

The consultations take place within the framework of the OSCE project “Strengthening Responses to Security Risks from Climate Change in South-Eastern Europe, Eastern Europe, the South Caucasus and Central Asia”.

Contact person: Lukas Rüttinger