Planetary Security Conference puts security at heart of climate discussions

On Monday 2 and Tuesday 3 November the Netherlands is holding the first annual Planetary Security Conference at the Peace Palace in The Hague. It will focus on the link between climate and security. ‘The rapidly changing climate may have a major impact on our security,’ says foreign minister Bert Koenders. ‘That’s why nowadays diplomats also need to view their work through a climate lens.’ 

Security and climate

Mr Koenders and foreign trade and development cooperation minister Lilianne Ploumen will be speaking at the conference, where academics, civil servants and think-tank representatives from over 70 countries will review the effects of climate change on international security. ‘Security and climate have been approached separately for too long, but climate change affects the entire world,’ says Mr Koenders. ‘So it’s essential to tackle the risks quickly and effectively.’

Reducing security risks

High on the agenda is the way in which climate change – resulting, for example, in increasing drought and rising sea levels – can create instability in vulnerable regions like Syria and the Sahel. ‘Major climatic changes can make vulnerable regions even more unstable,’ says Mr Koenders. ‘Reducing the associated security risks is vital, in both the short and long terms.’
A large part of the two-day conference will be devoted to consultations in 12 working groups. They will focus on the impact of climate change on food security, migration, Arctic security, sea level, and so on.

Effective climate policy

Ms Ploumen will close the conference on 3 November by participating in a four-member panel. She is supporting developing countries in countering climate change and in tackling problems like droughts, flooding or lower crop yields. ‘These countries are extra vulnerable: climate change is putting their water and food supplies at risk and they may face humanitarian disasters caused by extreme weather,’ she says. ‘It is often the poorest and weakest groups who are hardest hit. Developing countries, too, therefore have much to gain from an effective climate policy.’