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Climate Change and Violent Conflict: Sparse Evidence from South Asia and South East Asia

Publisher: SIPRI
September, 2018

The impacts of climate change are increasingly viewed as global security risks, which will have far-reaching implications for both human and renewable natural systems. Most climate–conflict research has focused on East Africa and sub-Saharan Africa. This SIPRI Insights explores and summarizes the findings from a systematic literature review of climate–conflict research on South Asia and South East Asia. Although these regions have been greatly affected by both climate change and conflict, there have only been a small number of rigorous academic studies that focus on the climate–conflict relationship.

While this constrains the ability to draw general conclusions, there is context-specific evidence that climate change can have an effect on the causes and dynamics of violent conflict in the region when:
(a) it leads to a deterioration in people’s livelihoods; (b) it influences the tactical considerations of armed groups; (c) elites use it to exploit social vulnerabilities and resources; and (d) it displaces people and increases levels of migration. In acknowledging that these mechanisms are often interlinked and more noticeable in some climatic, conflict and socio-economic contexts than in others, the need for more research in both regions is clear.


I. Introduction

II. Contextual background: South Asia and South East Asia

III. Pathways explaining the climate–conflict link 

IV. Implications for future research and policymaking


Dr Florian Krampe is the Director of the SIPRI Climate Change and Risk Programme.
Pernilla Nordqvist was a Research Assistant in the SIPRI Climate Change and Risk Programme.