Pakistani ecologist and researcher, Mome Saleem organized and moderated a panel discussion on climate change and security dynamics at the 13th International Conference of the Bled Strategic Forum in Bled, Slovenia. The panel featured prominent leaders such as Former President of the Republic of Slovenia, Danilo Turk and Dean, Pardee School of Global Studies, Boston Univeersity and Former Vice Chancellor, Lahore University of Management Sciences (Pakistan), DR. Adil Najam.
The Bled Strategic Forum is a prestigious international conference in Central and South-Eastern Europe, bringing together a diverse set of participants, including heads of state and government, ministers, diplomats, businesspeople, scholars and experts, youth, and media from around the world. The Forum focuses on engaging the participants in discussions about, and seeking out of the box solutions for, the compelling regional and global challenges. In addition, it provides an excellent opportunity for tailored bilateral and multilateral meetings and networking with prominent regional and global actors from the spheres of diplomacy, policy, business, science, and innovation.
Saleem’s panel focused on the issue of climate change from two angles; climate change as a threat, and climate change as threat multiplier. According to IPCCC (2007) the increased magnitude of climate change disasters in coming years will alter the environmental, social, and economic fabric of the nations. The resultant degradation of natural resources, reduced opportunities for livelihoods, and mass displacement and migration will increase resource competition leading to conflicts, unrest and even wars.
“However amicable strategies/policies can prevent resultant conflicts and mass migration. All of the above and many more dimensions of climate change as a threat multiplier require concerted efforts at policy level and discussions among important stakeholders”, commented Saleem.
The impact of climate change on conflict and global security is most prevalent in the Syrian conflict and is often referred to as a “climate change war”. It shows how human-induced climatic change was a contributory factor in the extreme drought experienced within Syria prior to its civil war and how this drought in turn led to large-scale migration which further exacerbated the socio-economic stresses that catapulted Syria's into conflict, civil unrest and war.
Panelists concurred that if the world is to prevent war and conflict such as the one in Syria, the underlining and exacerbating issues of climate change and resource inequality need to be addressed. Pakistan is one of the most water-deficient countries in the world and so faces major threat of steeping itself in a climate change war as well if cross-institutional measures are not taken now.