The majority of Mali’s regions are currently affected by violent conflict. While attention currently focuses on violent conflict in the north and centre of the country, southern Mali also sees worrying levels of tension, which sometimes flare into violence. These dynamics are overlaid onto a reality of weak governance, corruption and extortion, vertical and horizontal inequalities, gendered power relations, social exclusion and marginalisation, entrenched poverty, food insecurity, human rights violations, inadequate basic services, and underdevelopment. These realities have exacerbated pre-existing tensions within and between communities, between generations, and between citizen and state. They have led to a normalisation of violence, an increase in criminality and heightened insecurity, which has had differential impacts depending on age, gender, disability, ethnicity, and socio-economic status.
At the same time, Mali’s climate is changing. It is already experiencing increasing temperatures, significant inter-annual and decadal rainfall variability, and extreme weather events including droughts and floods. Populations have adapted to variability, for example through migration, livelihood diversification and involvement in the illicit trade. However, resilience is uneven: those subjected to political and economic marginalisation, including women and girls, are less able to adapt to, recover from and prepare for environmental and climate shocks. Moreover, the resilience that does exist is under strain as a result of conflict insensitive and inequitable government policies, decreasing social cohesion and increasing conflict, insecurity and violence. Future projections predict even higher temperatures and rainfall variability in the future, which will have serious impacts on poverty and inequality levels, livelihood precarity, environmental degradation, biodiversity, food insecurity, and health.
This climate security risk brief outlines the following linkages between climate change and security in Mali and their implications for peace and stability:
- Rent-seeking behaviour negatively affects environmental degradation and conflict dynamics.
- Conflict-insensitive climate and environmental action increases grievances.
- Migration is both a resilience strategy and source of tension.
- Conflicts over natural resources are likely to increase.
- Climate change and conflict both undermine livelihoods and social cohesion.
It also presents the following entry points to addressing these climate security risks:
- Conduct an integrated climate security assessment to build understanding of climate change and conflict dynamics in the whole country and how they vary between regions.
- Build inclusiveness, accountability and responsiveness of state institutions including the defence and security forces, particularly in northern and central Mali.
- Reduce gender and other inequalities among populations vulnerable to climate change in order to ensure equity and mitigate conflict risk.
- Build climate security resilience in southern Mali to mitigate the spread of violence.
- Build climate security more thoroughly into the UN’s mandate in Mali for increased effectiveness.