The Climate Crisis and Its Challenges for African Peacebuilding

Authored by: Bruno Charbonneau , Peter Läderach , Marc-André Boisvert , Tatiana Smirnova , Grazia Pacillo , Alessandro Craparo , Ignacio Madurga

Routledge Handbook of African Peacebuilding

Print publication date:  May  2022
Online publication date:  May  2022

Print ISBN: 9780367181949
eBook ISBN: 9780429060038
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter brings together conflict analysts and climate scientists to examine the challenges and risks that the climate crisis represents for conflict, violence, and system fragility. It first briefly examines the literature on the relationship between climate change and armed conflicts, and then on that relationship in the context of the West African Sahel. This allows avoiding an abstract discussion of climate-conflict debates by situating it in the historical context of the Sahel, thus highlighting the inherent politics of the academic and policy fields of “climate security” and how it can inform practices of intervention. Next, the chapter presents an overview of the multiple impact pathways through which climate change and variability have or can act as a threat multiplier in the case of Niger, emphasizing the effects of climate change and variability on local governance practices and mechanisms. These mechanisms, processes, and practices were built historically through consensus, collaboration, competition, and/or conflict, but the climate crisis imposes new stresses as it also accelerates the timeline for their necessary transformation. Finally, the last few years of a deteriorating security situation are analysed. The chapter argues that the extent to which climate variability and stresses affect conflict dynamics is difficult to assess, given that (1) Niger has lived with and endured climate variability for centuries and (2) Niger’s recent instability, insecurity, and armed violence find their immediate causes in the ongoing Malian conflict. Nevertheless, climate change–induced transformation can sustain or exacerbate current conflict dynamics, just as it can create new ones – or at the very least, cause mass human suffering and misery.

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