Spreading Disease, Spreading Conflict? – COVID-19, Climate Change and Security Risks

Mosello, Beatrice; Adrian Foong, Christian König, Susanne Wolfmaier and Emily Wright 2020: Spreading Disease, Spreading Conflict?. COVID-19, Climate Change and Security Risks. Berlin: Climate Security Expert Network.

The COVID-19 pandemic has profound global impacts. While all countries have been affected, the pandemic is hitting those that were already struggling with poverty, conflict and the impacts of climate change especially hard. This report seeks to explore these dynamics.

At the intersection of health, climate, and conflict risks, the paper identifies four key pathways through which COVID-19 can exacerbate climate-related security risks:

  • Increased pressure on livelihoods and resources.
  • Reduced effectiveness of migration as an adaptation strategy.
  • Weakened conflict responses and increased opportunities for non-state armed groups.
  • Increased risks in urban environments and violent protests.

The pandemic offers another opportunity to talk about how interconnected risks, including those created by climate change, can contribute to insecurity and conflict. Taking these risks and their interconnectedness into account is essential not just to build back, but to ‘build back better’.

This report therefore recommends a number of entry points for governments to respond to these evolving risks, and to ‘build back better’ both from the pandemic itself and the climate crisis:

  • Integrated analyses of risks and vulnerabilities.
  • Moving to multi-sector and inclusive approaches.
  • Ensuring additional and long-term funding.
  • Connecting community-level and global action.
  • Making the case for multilateralism.

Read the report here.