Under Fire: Intersections of Climate and Conflict


August 3-6, 2020

Droughts in Yemen. Wildfires in California. Floods in Bangladesh. Melting permafrost in Siberia. The shifts in climate that are reshaping the global landscape are impossible to ignore, whether they are in the form of unprecedented temperatures, fluctuating rainfall, or more frequent natural disasters.

The examples of climate and environmental change are influencing patterns of diseases, distribution of resources, and movement of people—and, more directly, affecting basic indicators of human well-being like access to clean water and food. In 2018, the World Bank estimated that Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, and Southeast Asia will generate 143 million more climate migrants by 2050.

These effects act as “threat multipliers,” exacerbating existing fissures across political, social, and economic dimensions. Destabilization caused by drought, flood, famine, and epidemics aggravate conflicts as individuals compete for key resources. Though experts agree that climate has contributed modestly to the risk of conflict to date, their estimates emphasize that the risk of climate-induced violence will be fivefold if global emissions do not change.

 The intersection of climate and conflict cannot be addressed by one discipline or strategy alone. But where do we begin, as educators, learners, and citizens? Through sessions with experts in climate and conflict and pedagogy, we attempted to stitch together first-hand experience, new knowledge, and diverse perspectives to gain a closer to understanding this complex nexus.