Insurgency, Terrorism and Organised Crime in a Warming Climate

Insurgency, Terrorism and Organised Crime in a Warming Climate Analysing the Links Between Climate Change and Non-State Armed Groups (2017)

Over the past ten years, both our understanding and awareness of the links between climate change and
security have increased tremendously. Today the UN, the EU, the G7 and an increasing number of states
have classified climate change as a threat to global and/or national security. However, the links between
climate change, conflict and fragility are not simple and linear. The increasing impacts of climate change
do not automatically lead to more fragility and conflict. Rather, climate change acts as a threat multiplier.
It interacts and converges with other existing risks and pressures in a given context and can increase the
likelihood of fragility or violent conflict. States experiencing fragility or conflict are particularly affected,
but also seemingly stable states can be overburdened by the combined pressures of climate change,
population growth, urbanization, environmental degradation and rising socio-economic inequalities.

Taking the state of play on the links between climate change and fragility as a starting point, this report
addresses the question of how the impacts of climate change are a contributing factor in the rise and
growth of NSAGs. Non-state armed groups are not a new phenomenon. Today, however, we can observe
an increasingly complex landscape of violent actors with a range of hybrid organisational structures,
different agendas and different levels of engagement with society that set them apart from ‘traditional’
non-state actors and result in new patterns of violence. They operate on different levels, within or outside
formal armed conflict and include youth and street gangs, criminal groups and organised crime as well
as highly professionalized terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda, ISIS, or Al Shabaab or militia providing
community security.

Four case studies that span the whole spectrum of NSAGs and patterns of violence, conflict and fragility
explore in depth the specific role NSAGs play in the complex dynamics of climate change and fragility and
try to identify how climate change acts as a risks multiplier in regards to NSAGs. These case studies
show that as the climate is changing, so too are the conditions within which NSAGs operate. The complex
risks arising from climate change, fragility and conflict can contribute to the emergence and growth of
NSAGs. This does not imply that there is a direct link between climate change and NSAG-related violence
and conflict. However, large-scale environmental and climatic change contributes to creating an environment
in which NSAGs can thrive and opens spaces that facilitate the pursuit of their strategies.

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