Published on Mar 12, 2010

Report on the Special Session at the 7th Annual Worldwide Security Conference 

The Earth System Governance Project was strongly represented and contributed substantially to a special session on Accelerating Responses for Climate Security at the 7th Annual Worldwide Security Conference, on 16 February 2010 in Brussels. The special session on climate security was held at the European Parliament and was organized by the EastWest Institute. In a roundtable format, ideas on accelerating responses for climate security were exchanged by about 60 leading policy-makers, diplomats, representatives of business and non governmental organizations, and researchers from around the world. The session focused on cooperation in the area of climate security in Africa by the European Union, the United States, and China.

As lead-discussants in the first plenary session on Reframing the International Politics of Climate Security, the China coordinator of the Earth System Governance Project, Sander Chan (Renmin University) and Patrick Schroeder, Earth System Governance Research Fellow and International Advisor at the China Association for NGO Cooperation (CANGO) outlined perceptions and relevance of climate security in China. Reframing western public perception about the role of China during the Copenhagen negotiations and the role of NGOs in increasing awareness about the urgency of climate security among the Chinese public were identified as key issues. Sander Chan pointed out two challenges. First, after the Copenhagen Climate Summit, trust-building is a more immedidate challenge than the building of new climate security institutions (for instance a ‘climate security council’), Second, the perspective on climate change is very context and country dependent. For instance, in China more emphases is placed on energy security, while Bangladesh is more concerned about displacements as a consequence of climate change. Therefore conceptual delimitation is required for international collaboration or institution building.

Professor Eduardo Viola (University of Brasila), a member of the Earth System Governance Associate Faculty chaired a breakout group on Catalyzing more Rapid Responses at the Global Level. Here, and as lead-discussant in a second session on the same topic, he argued for a more flexible and above all more appropriate grouping of countries in climate policies. In that same group, Earth System Governance Associate Faculty member professor Jia Wenhua (China University of Political Science and Law) analysed several ways how effective cooperation for climate security between China and the West can be achieved and proposed as most effective way forward.

During the second plenary session on Linking National Readiness to Regional and Global Needs, the executive officer of the Earth System Governance Project, Ruben Zondervan, highlighted in his opening statement as lead-discussant the multiple adverse impacts of climate change and the complexity of variables that could turn environmental changes into issues of local, national, and regional security. He also stressed the crucial role of adaptive governance on and between all scales to avoid security concerns resulting from climate change impacts.

The special session is part of the EastWest Institute’s climate security initiative. This initiative focuses on preventive responses to potential destabilization caused by climate threats and centers around questions of political will, social psychology and long term policy planning. The EastWest Institute is an international, non-partisan, not-for-profit policy organization focused on confronting critical challenges that endanger peace (http://www.ewi.info/).