EDITOR'S NOTE: The following article was written by the AFRICOM Enviromental Security Office following a panel discussion about security and climate change in Washington Jan. 14, 2016.
U.S. Africa Command Environmental Security participated in a panel discussion titled Climate Change, Disasters, and Security: Unconventional Approaches to Building Stability at the Wilson Center in Washington. The Wilson Center, chartered by Congress as the official memorial to President Woodrow Wilson, is a non-partisan policy forum for addressing global issues through independent research and open dialogue to inform actionable ideas for Congress, the administration, and the broader policy community.
Natural disasters are expected to increase in both number and severity as a result of climate change. Many places lack the resources and institutional capacity for disaster prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery. As a result, climate-related natural disasters can act as a threat multiplier, undermining the stability of nations and regions while exacerbating insecurity. Recognizing this, the AFRICOM Environmental Security Program, United Nations Environmental Program, the United States Army Corps of Engineers, known as USACE, and their partners are working to strengthen responses to climate change through a jointly developed training course. This course builds capacity of military and civilian authorities in African countries and partner organizations to develop a whole-of-government approach for natural disaster planning, prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery, focusing on disasters that are a consequence of or that are intensified by climate change.
In addition to Jeffrey Andrews, chief of AFRICOM Environmental Security, the panel of presenters included subject matter experts from the Joint United Nations Environment Program/Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, USACE Geospatial Research Laboratory, and U.S. Agency for International Development. Over 200 individuals participated in the program, either in person or webcast. These discussions built knowledge for a whole-of-government approach to reduce climate change vulnerability and identified where these opportunities increase collaboration across U.S. agencies.
This highly successful event at the Wilson Center is the first of a series which will empower different U.S. agencies to collaborate on ways to strengthen the response capabilities of countries that are vulnerable to disasters that are exacerbated by climate change. This is a perfect match for the U.S. AFRICOM Environmental Security Program, which facilitates events that are key to identifying on-going initiatives and programs that U.S. AFRICOM and its partners can leverage for further capacity-building efforts on the continent.