Are the long-term impacts of climate change leading to geostrategic risks? Which scope of action can German and European foreign policy take within this context? How can perspectives from foreign policy effectively complement the process of global climate negotiations? And how can foreign policy approaches foster an ambitious climate agreement within these negotiations?
These issues, along with identifying the geostrategic risks of climate change and developing concrete approaches for foreign policy stakeholders, were taken up by adelphi as part of a scheme funded by the German Foreign Office. Regional focus of the scheme was on South-East Asia and the Pacific island states.
Regional consultations on climate risks and foreign policy approaches were conducted with political decision-makers in both areas, complementing reduction and adaptation measures. Together with representatives from South-East Asian foreign ministries as well as regional think tanks, extreme weather incidents, vulnerability of coastal regions and rapidly growing use of energy and resources had been identified as main regional challenges in climate policy. This process of discussions, beginning with political decision-makers and experts in the Asian-Pacific territories continued as part of the ASEAN Regional Forums.
Together with regional partners, adelphi hosted a side event that looked at the geostrategic implications of climate risks in the Pacific as part of the UN’s Small Island Development Forum in September 2014 in Apia, Samoa. The current sea level rise is threatening low-lying island states with devastating and catastrophic storms, salinization of freshwater resources and flooding of the state territory.
At the same time, the region is under close observation by global and regional policy shapers who are becoming increasingly involved in political, strategic and economic aspects of the area.
The scheme’s thematic focus was on questions regarding international cooperation in transboundary river basins, as well as challenges posed by climate risks and growing urbanisation, also when dealing with city networks as new, sub-state actors. A policy paper on the role played by foreign policy in international river basins, drawn up by internationally renowned scientists and political consultants, was presented at the World Water Week in Stockholm in September 2014, where it was further discussed with key players. The paper presents proposals as to how foreign policy instruments can help diffuse potential conflict and extend the scope of cooperation within the water sector to include other policy fields. Challenges to foreign policy posed by rapid urbanisation were compiled during consultations with experts and published as part of an initial report in 2014.
In addition, adelphi developed an interactive information portal that provides a global overview of conflicts related to climate change and natural resources. The database behind that portal allows interested parties to gain more precise information on individual conflicts, as well as being able to research and systematically compare specific origins of conflicts, conflict dynamics and contextual factors. In addition, the platform provides information about successful approaches in conflict management.
Furthermore, adelphi designed and implemented an exhibition on the topic of climate risks and their geostrategic importance, to be shown in Berlin, Beijing, Suzhou, Lanzhou, Quito, New York City and in the Pacific region in 2014. This exhibition allowed the general public to gain insight into the complex relations between climate change and geostrategic challenges and included podium discussions and accompanying educational events. There were targeted reports dealing with the central issues of climate negotiations for embassies situated in the priority regions, and articles on Germany’s climate and foreign policy interests and initiatives were published in specialist and popular magazines. Project results as well as interviews with experts were published regularly on the Climate Diplomacy information platform as well as in the newsletter.