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A climate risk management approach to disaster reduction and adaptation to climate change

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The relationship between climate change and security is a key concern among governments and international organisations. Security concerns include the potential for conflict over natural resources, population displacement, migration and humanitarian disasters due to extreme climate events. The recognition of these threats has generated growing interest in the relationship between disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation (CCA). Despite this interest, the broader consequences and social causes like demographics, culture and living conditions are seldom addressed.The following are the main findings contained in this report:

most migration will be internal within countries as a result of gradual climactic changes and not due to single catastrophic events
the magnitude of environmental change expected from even 2°C of warming may cause significant negative social outcomes in low income and resource-dependent countries
the evidence about the links between environmental change and violent conflict is inconclusive. Neither qualitative examination of cases, nor generalisable findings based on statistical data, have produced robust findings. There is ample evidence to show that human insecurities are associated with a lack of basic needs such as food, water, and shelter, limit capabilities and freedoms, and thus have negative implications for human development
there is evidence that dwindling resource stocks, decline in livelihoods, decreasing state revenues, and increasing inequality may create opportunities for some elites to harness resentment and mobilise people to fight – leading to conflict and changes in the distribution of power and resources
there are underlying economic, political and other social factors that make environmental change a proximate trigger
studies show that migration as a response to disasters is only possible after a certain level of wealth has been attained
morbidity and mortality normally accompany migration which is a form of adaptation.

The report findings call for a more thorough assessment of the role of DRR and CCA in minimising threats to human security. It recommends that:

policy makers and practitioners in DRR and CCA should develop coordinated efforts towards reducing climate change risks and vulnerability
discussions on CCA should be well informed by DRR strategies, tools, frameworks and experiences
there is need for a renewed focus on the ways DRR and adaptation can influence the context in which climate change occurs
rather than perpetuating contexts for disaster, it is possible to use DRR and adaptation strategies to create a context that promotes well-being and security.