Emerging Security Challenges: Climate Change as a Threat Multiplier

On 6 October, at the invitation of the American Chamber of Commerce in The Netherlands and the OSAC-Netherlands group, Dr. Patrick Huntjens joined four experts from the private and academic sector to present to a group of 50+ security sector professionals on the issue of climate change as an emerging security challenge and threat multiplier.

OSAC (The Overseas Security Advisory Council) was created by the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry “to promote an open dialogue between the U.S. Government and the American private sector on security issues abroad.”

This meeting, hosted at the European Space Agency (ESA) ESTEC, sought to discuss more specifically the effects and implications of climate change for the corporate security sector, including  their business continuity, critical infrastructure and risk management.

Based on years of research on and field experience in complex water-related environments, Dr. Huntjens demonstrated the wide-ranging consequences of climate change-related disasters on business operations (e.g. reduction/disruption in production capacity; increased operational costs, or inability to do business) and highlighted the many ways the private sector can better prepare for those including investing more in disaster preparedness, climate proofing its own footprints and value chains, and utilizing innovative products and services to support resilience.

The Hague Institute for Global Justice and its partners are currently establishing the Helpdesk for Water & Conflicts. The Helpdesk aims at supporting public, private and civil sectors through specialized consultancy services in countries and regions confronted with severe water and climate-related challenges and (potential) conflicts.

These services consist of:

  • Analysis of (potential) water and climate-related conflicts;
  • Advice and training on how to prevent water and climate-related conflict; and
  • Professional mediation support to solve water and climate-related conflicts.

Through these services the various sectors can adjust their strategic decision-making and their daily operations as well as mitigate the potential conflict situations.

Increasingly, the Helpdesk’s service are in high demand by the business sector. Indeed, businesses often have to tackle legislative demands or claims from local communities about aspects of fresh water availability and use, including pollution problems. These demands may appear against the backdrop of other forms of pressure, such as political sway, public media portrayals and lobbying by various stakeholder groups. Many business activities, for example in the agro-food and tourism sectors, directly relate to and depend on the use of water. This means that their competitiveness, viability and commercial risk strongly hinge on the availability of and access to good quality water resources.

By identifying the conflict drivers and constraints inherent in a given complex water-related environment, the Helpdesk intends to provide all stakeholders, including the private sector, with an effective and sustainable strategy for engagement based on a sound understanding and analysis of the interaction of legal, political and economic processes in a society, namely the distribution of power and wealth between different groups and individuals, and the processes that create, sustain and transform these relationships over time.

For more information about The Hague Institute’s climate change and water diplomacy projects (including the Helpdesk), please contact Dr. Patrick Huntjens at p.huntjens@TheHagueInstitute.org.

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