Swedish Research Group Urges AU to Focus on Climate Risks and Migration in its Bid to Bolster Africa’s Economic Growth

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Researchers at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), an independent international organization dedicated to research into conflict, arms control and disarmament, has urged the African Union (AU) to refocus its efforts on climate-related security risks.

SIPRI has also called on the AU to build a broad support to appoint a dedicated Special Envoy for Climate Change and Security.

The organization’s researchers were speaking ahead of the ongoing African Union (AU) Summit, which comes to a close 11th February, 2019.

The 32nd Summit of Heads of State of the AU will be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia with the theme ‘Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons: Towards Durable Solutions to Forced Displacement in Africa.’

In 2019, the AU wants to increase attention to the root causes of forced displacement and bolster the capacity of AU Member States to tackle the problem and create sustainable strategies. As SIPRI researchers point out in a new essay, migration and forced displacement are only symptoms of broader social, political, economic and ecological ‘push’ and ‘pull’ factors.

“Especially in Africa, climate-related change is one of the most serious push factors,” says Dr. Florian Krampe, a Researcher in SIPRI’s Climate Change and Risk Programme, specializing in peace and conflict research, environmental and climate security, and international security.

He stresses that in order to address the push from climate impacts, there is a need to not only better comprehend but, to better respond to climate-related security risks.

SIPRI insists that the AU is critical in showcasing leadership and developing adequate responses to climate-related security risks.

“The responses will require an integrated approach that combines knowledge on climate risks and the social and political realities of the regions,” argues Vane Aminga, a Research Assistant in the Climate Change and Risk Programme at SIPRI.

SIPRI has found that the AU lacks a tangible policy framework that lays out specific actions on how to respond to climate security within its peace and security framework.

Being the most vulnerable continent to climate change, which is inextricably linked to the continent’s peace and security, SIPRI states that Africa is in need of a clear climate security strategy and strategic leadership. Part of this should be the appointment of a Special Envoy to Climate Change and Security which could help widen the understanding of climate-related security risks within the AU.

“The idea of the Special Envoy is apt and an opportunity to pre-empt migration and forced displacement,” says Dr. Krampe.

“Moreover, this will provide an opportunity to ‘climate-proof’ the AU’s peace and security architecture,” he concluded.

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