In fragile and conflict-affected countries, where populations are already suffering from multiple risks posed by climate change, the pandemic is a “crisis layered on top of a crisis.” Livelihoods that depend on reliable access to markets are undermined by disrupted supply chains, restrained mobility or market closures. Populations displaced by climate-related security risks living in camps or settlements – where health facilities are already inadequate – are not afforded the luxury of social distancing.
In these contexts, political and economic instability undermine capacity to cope with health crises, as well as climate and environmental shocks. This traps communities in a negative downward spiral that can fuel further conflict and insecurity.
Recent research has improved our understanding of these climate-security traps. Too little attention, however, has been paid to the role of gender norms and power dynamics in shaping responses to these reinforcing crises.
From the Sahel and the Horn of Africa to South-East Asia and Central America, the report shows how factors of marginalization combine to leave women and girls with a disproportionate economic burden; how gendered expectations can lead men and women to resort to violence when traditional livelihoods fail; and how important socio-economic shifts can result from changes to patterns of migration.
The report also makes clear that there are important opportunities for action, even as the negative impacts of climate change on security become more visible every day. Its recommendations provide a clear way forward, encouraging us to recognize the interdependence of peace and security, human rights and development.
Finland has a storied tradition of supporting global peace. The risks posed by climate change only make working to fully integrate these issues into conflict prevention and peacebuilding more urgent. But we cannot afford to do so without recognizing the unique experiences, knowledge, and capacity of women, men, girls, and boys living on the frontlines.
Finland is deeply committed to gender equality and is a strong advocate of women’s roles in conflict prevention and peacebuilding. As support to climate action is more critical than ever, we look forward to continuing to support women and men in fragile contexts, as well as the global community, to build and sustain inclusive peace.