In our world today, climate change poses a lethal threat to our existence and is one of the greatest factors negatively impacting global peace and security. The United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres posited that “Climate change is a direct threat in itself and a multiplier of many other threats – from poverty to displacement to conflict.” This statement is verifiable from the conspicuous effects of the catastrophic consequences that happen as a result of climate change.
It is evident that the effects of climate change heighten competition for resources such as land, food, and water, fueling socioeconomic tensions and, increasingly often, leading to mass displacement. Disasters linked to climate and weather extremes have become more frequent, more intense, and are projected to multiply with dire consequences for the world. Security experts say these hardships increases the risk of political instability and terrorism in every country where the consequences of climate change is worse hit. That is why climate change is being referred to as a “threat multiplier.
Although there are many causes of conflict, climate change can be a trigger in the sequence. Across the world and in every continent, the climate crisis has caused extensive destruction and put societies in peril. A protracted ongoing list of climate change induced conflict and insecurities persist: In Syria, the prolonged drought that preceded the uprising drove farmers and herders from their fields and their pastures towards the urban areas. This crowding in the urban areas triggered civil unrest, internal conflicts, and insecurities. In the Lake Chad Basin, the shrinking of the Basin is resulting in food insecurity and displacement. In the Sahel and Horn of Africa, intense desertification, soil erosion and drought are all climate change consequences triggering the fight over scarce resources, migration, rights violation, ethnic tensions and terrorism.
In West Africa, the recurring deadly farmers and herders’ clashes is as a result of resource clashes brought on by poor vegetation caused by global warming. In Nigeria, climate change also enables the conditions for the conflicts between fossil fuel companies and their host communities; it is also powering the ability of the Terrorist groups such as Islamic State and Boko Haram to exploit the scarcity of water, food and land in manipulating populations and boost their recruitment.
Therefore, we see climate change as a threat and conflict multiplier amplifying the already existing social, political and religious, non-climate threats to security. And, unless the global community takes urgent action to tackle it, the world risks worsening conflict, displacement and insecurity. It therefore behooves young people everywhere to observe that their future is at risk of becoming unrecognizable, unsafe, and worse still, nonexistent. It is time for young people to take action – and call for actionable policies and practices able to reverse climate change as a global threat and conflict multiplier.