Climate change is one of the greatest global challenges of the 21st century, posing a constantly growing threat to the security and stability of states and societies. More than anywhere else, these risks directly affect countries outside Europe and the global North. Nevertheless, the risk of a worldwide increase in or intensification of conflicts will not remain without consequences for Switzerland as an open economy and society, even if those consequences are of an indirect nature and are felt rather as knock-on effects, for example on integrated production chains, investment, Swiss citizens and Swiss interests abroad or an increase in migration pressure.
How and whether climate change contributes to the fragility of states and regions and to the emergence of conflicts is dependent on the specific context and, in particular, on human and institutional action or inaction. In view of this, foreign policy must play a privileged role in the prevention and management of climate-fragility risks. Swiss foreign policy can substantially contribute, thanks to some of its specific characteristics.
This baseline study systematically sets out the security risks arising from climate change, and how they are perceived in the Swiss Federal Administration and in existing Swiss policies, strategies and initiatives that are relevant to climate-fragility risk management. On this basis, the study presents ideas on how Swiss foreign policy could engage in climate change and security policy. A Swiss commitment is in the national interest for reasons of domestic risk exposure, but at the same time it could also strengthen the foreign policy profile of Switzerland, insofar as Switzerland could visibly fulfil an important role for the international community.