Participants from across the globe attended a two-day Security Implications of Climate Change Symposium at U.S. Africa Command headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany, Jan. 27-28. The event convened subject matter experts on the physical and social impacts of climate change in Africa with decision-makers, planners, and other stakeholders to better understand and plan for security implications across the continent.
"When we look at climate change and how climate change impacts Africa, it's important we look at the full scope of how it affects societies, governments, and people," said U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen Kirk Smith, U.S. Africa Command Deputy Commander. "We clearly know that environmental change is a driver of instability, and we recognize that other entities - whether we call them competitors or adversaries - are going to take advantage of that [instability]."
The hybrid in-person and virtual event – first in a series hosted by U.S. Africa Command – brought together think tanks, academics, allies, partners and representatives from the U.S. Agency for International Development and Departments of State and Defense to identify gaps in knowledge and understanding related to the climate and security.
"What we've got to do first is agree on the problems that need to be solved together and within the realm of what AFRICOM, the interagency team, our allies and partners can actually accomplish," said U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Mark Hovatter, Deputy Director, Plans and Strategic Integration and the command's lead proponent for examining the security implications of climate change. "Climate change and its relation to conflict and instability is not new, and it is central to the emerging National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy. Our task here at AFRICOM is to bring the team together that can address this challenge and ensure that future generations can welcome a legacy of unlocked potential across Africa."
By discussing past successes and ongoing efforts, participants sought to pinpoint future opportunities. Engagement also focused on helping U.S. Africa Command strategists and planners access the right tools and resources to incorporate lessons learned into plans and operations.