CSEN Factsheet: The Sahel

Brown, Oli; Janani Vivekananda and Johanna Dieffenbacher 2021: CSEN Factsheet: The Sahel. Berlin: adelphi.

The Sahel is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and thus one of the regions where climate change is most likely to undermine security and trigger violent conflict. Whilst the links between climate change and conflict are neither direct nor inevitable, the security situation in the region is deteriorating. Socio-economic inequalities and environmental degradation are increasing and cross-border risks such as terrorist group movements are on the rise, all of which are compounded by climate change impacts. Despite the increase in stabilisation efforts in the region, peace operations have yet to effectively address climate-related security risks if stability is to be achieved in the Sahel.

The authors of the new factsheet, Oli Brown, Janani Vivekananda and Johanna Dieffenbacher, outline the key climate security risks facing the region before suggesting four entry points for national governments, donors and multilateral agencies, such as the UN and African Union (AU), in addressing climate fragility risks in the Sahel:

  1. The AU and UN should collaborate to cross-fertilise existing tools, analysis and expertise in order to carry out climate-fragility risk assessments as part of conflict analysis to support and inform early warning systems.
  2. Beyond early warning, climate-related security risks should be integrated in the evaluation, analysis and assessment of AU and UN mission challenges, peace operations and mission management.
  3. Efforts should be made by all actors to incorporate climate-related issues into mediation processes and guidelines. The UN and AU specifically could collaborate to better incorporate climate-fragility risks related to natural resource governance into AU-UN Mediation Guidelines, as well as in mediation efforts of UN and AU Special Envoys.
  4. International bodies such as the UN and AU Security Councils can drive climate-security diplomacy through periodic informal and formal meetings on the issue.

For more context on climate-fragility risks in North Africa and the Sahel – and the entry points to address them – please also see the Climate-Fragility Risk Brief for North Africa and the Sahel and browse the CSEN website to discover climate-fragility risk briefs focusing on other regions, countries and related topics.