Conflict and Shocks: How can we build resilience in the face of increasing fragility and vulnerability?
Violent conflict has increased after decades of relative decline. Direct deaths in war, numbers of displaced populations, military spending, among others, have all surged since the beginning of the century (World Bank, 2018). Fragile and conflict affected states show the slowest progress towards the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (ODI, 2018), demonstrating that conflict could be one of the biggest hurdles in achieving our 2030 aspirations. More specifically, the recent increase in number of people suffering from acute food insecurity has been attributed to an increase in conflict and extreme weather events (FSIN, 2018).
It is therefore becoming urgent to increase our understanding of the drivers of political instability and conflict as well as our understanding of how to manage the added vulnerability of climate related shocks in conflict affected places. The role of climate change, and other environmental drivers, has been the subject of polarized debate, but are now widely accepted as important threat multipliers in a complex set of preconditions that could lead to states becoming more vulnerable to instability and conflict (Ayana et al., 2016; Brottem, 2016; Van Baalen & Möbjork, 2017). Similarly, there is increasing recognition that the people most vulnerable to climate shocks are often in conflict affected places, as evidenced by the recent impacts of climate and conflict in places like Yemen, Nigeria, South Sudan and Somalia. Other important threat multipliers and causes for increased vulnerability include the strength of governance mechanisms and key institutions, inequality, perceptions of exclusion, identity, grievances and ability to mobilise (World Bank, 2018). With predicted increases in climate volatility and extreme weather (IPCC SR15, 2018), increased environmental degradation and competition for natural
resources (IPBES, 2018), these factors could become much more important drivers of States and people becoming more vulnerable to instability and conflict.
This session aims to move the dialogue from describing the relationship to understanding what we should be doing to build resilience in these fragile and conflict susceptible areas.