Study: Conflict and Climate Change
Under the theme of "Climate Change and Security in the Horn of Africa", a session of the Political Breakfast Meetings series, co-organized by the Friedrich-Ebert Foundation (FES) and the European Union Delegation to the African Union took place on 28 June 2011.
The meeting was addressed by Mersie Ejigu, Chief Executive Officer and founder of Partnership for African Environmental Sustainability (PAES) and chaired by Col. Sandy Wade, Military Attaché at the European Union Delegation to the African Union.
In his presentation Mersie Ejigu discussed the current challenges for the region, the linkages between climate change and security, as well as what needs to be done in the future. He stressed the importance of local experiences that need to be better recognized in order to develop scenarios of what local communities will actually face in the future.
Findings of his recent research show that there are indeed local perceptions of serious environmental degradation which already have serious effects on markets as well as individual households and farms.
Mersie Ejigu explained that resource management lies at the heart of the problem, although there is no direct causal relationship between climate change and conflicts. However, eroding eco-systems and mismanagement can be an important contributor to an already vulnerable social system, so that climate change is best understood as amplifier and threat multiplier. Research conducted by PAES in Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, and Ethiopia found different conflict patterns between cultivators, pastoralists and the state, which all have a strong link to resource degradation and mismanagement.
Looking forward, suggestions were made to focus on knowledge and capacity development, adaptation strategies, as well as technology development. The meeting was also used as a forum to constructively think about policy recommendations for national governments, regional as well as continental organizations.