25 Sep 2018

Climate-related conflict discussed at Auckland workshop

5:44 pm on 25 September 2018

Climate-related conflict and security issues in the Pacific will be examined by experts from around the world in Auckland this week.

A high tide across Ejit Island in Majuro Atoll, Marshall Islands on March 3, 2014, causing widespread flooding. Officials in the Marshall Islands blamed climate change for severe flooding in the Pacific nation's capital Majuro.

Photo: AFP

Co-hosted by Otago University's Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies and the Toda Peace Institute, the meeting will bring together leading climate experts, and security policy makers with Pacific researchers.

Otago University's Kevin Clements said there was a lot more to learn about the links between climate related pressures and conflict, as people try and respond to their changing environments.

"What we don't know yet is whether climate change is a cause of the conflict or an accelerator of conflict. So what happens is that if people are forced into relocating themselves because of rising sea levels, or people aren't able to feed themselves because of food insecurity, and in resonding to the big challenges, people are coming into conflict with eachother, often with very violent consequences."

Professor Kevin Clements said he hoped the three day conference will be the first of many, as climate events become more frequent, more intense and more damaging in their consequences.

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