Spotlight on Climate Change

This week, the world gathers in Paris for COP21, the annual Conference of Parties that reviews the implementation of the Rio Convention of 1992. COP21 aims to achieve a legally binding universal agreement on climate to keep global warming under 2°C over the next decades.

The Hague Institute for Global Justice is actively engaged with many issues related to climate change and climate governance. Projects focus on Small Island Developing States, river basins and delta regions, disaster risk reduction and improving adaptive capacities form the core of the Institute’s work to address the urgent challenges that climate change poses.

Below you will find a brief overview of the Institute’s work relating to climate change. For a list of Hague Institute Projects related to climate change and natural resources, click here.

Policy Briefs

Adaptive Delta Governance
Policy Brief 15 | May 2015
This policy brief reflects on key lessons learned and the way forward in three deltas: the Rhine-Meuse in the Netherlands, the Mekong in Vietnam, and the Sacramento–San Joaquin River in the United States. It provides recommendations for improving delta governance targeted at practitioners, policymakers, and researchers working on climate change, environmental policy, politics, and governance. The recommendations focus on dealing with the uncertainties of the impacts of climate change, on closing the innovation gap between science, policy and society, and on facilitating effective stakeholder participation, learning and integration.

Climate Security and Justice for Small Island Developing States
Policy Brief 9 | March 2014
This policy brief reviews both the challenges that SIDS face because of climate change in terms of adaptation and development, internal displacement and migration, sovereignty a nd exclusive economic zones, as well as the means they use to advance their cause, such as legal claims to compensation and multilateral diplomacy.

Escaping the Resource Curse in Sub-Saharan Africa
Policy Brief 4 | August 2013
The resource curse refers to the paradox that countries with an abundance of natural resources often fail to grow as rapidly as those without such resources. This policy brief outlines both the endogenous and exogenous factors that contribute significantly to the resource situation in sub-Saharan Africa.


Commission on Global Security, Justice & Governance
Humanity today faces a growing range of global problems that require urgent attention. The independent Commission on Global Security, Justice & Governance published a report that provides targeted reforms that transcend national borders, and reach out to diverse stakeholders, including business groups, mayors, civil society, and local communities and cities. The report aims to reform the UN and other global governance institutions to better address new global challenges posed by conflict affected states, climate change, and the hyperconnected global economy.

The Political Economy of Water Management in Yemen: Conflict Analysis and Recommendations
An acute water crisis looms over Yemen which suffers intense water scarcity. To address this problem, The Hague Institute published a report detailing the political economy of water conflicts in Yemen. The report, Commissioned by the Dutch Embassy in Yemen offers insights and recommendations to address the threat of conflict from water related issues.

Working Papers

Effectiveness of Multi-stakeholder Dialogues on Water
by Dr. Patrick Huntjens, Louis Lebel and Brian Furze | June 2015
Multi-stakeholder dialogues aim to create and support spaces, in which meaningful conversations can take place among diverse stakeholder groups. A key notion is that dialogues can inform and help shape more formal negotiation and decision-making processes by bringing in a wider range of perspectives on needs, impacts and options, and having them deliberated openly. This study shows that it is possible to draw comparative insights about the dialogues by using relatively simple questions about principle events.

Climate Change as a Threat Multiplier
by Dr. Patrick Huntjens and Katharina Nachbar | May 2015
In this paper, the authors first examine state-of-the art research and thinking on the implications of climate change for security and then identify the key governance challenges the international system faces. The authors explore potential pathways for reform, both to make multilevel climate governance more fit for purpose, and to better anticipate and address the predicted security implications of climate change.

A Conflict-Sensitive Approach to Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation in the Urbanizing Asia-Pacific
by Ting Zhang | March 2015
This paper examines the special considerations that should be given in the design and implementation of mitigation and adaptation strategies in order to reduce urban violence while addressing climate change in cities in the rapidly urbanizing Asia-Pacific.

Environmental Migrations from Conflict-Affected Countries: Focus on EU Policy Response
by Enza Roberta Petrillo | March 2015
The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the environmental migration debate with a multifaceted perspective that takes into account the relationship between climate change, migration and conflict. In doing so, it aims to highlight areas of particular political and geopolitical interest where further EU legal, policy, and humanitarian action is needed.


UN Photo

Turning the Tide in Paris (COP21): Seeking Justice for Climate Change Induced Migrants
by Dr. Patrick Huntjens and Ting Zhang
Climate change and migration have been two keywords featured in media headlines in the past few weeks. However, the related news items fail to explain that climate change and migration are two closely connected phenomena, with significant implications for causing or triggering violent conflict, that can and should be addressed in the climate agreement to be negotiated at the upcoming COP21. This commentary addresses the phenomenon of climate change induced migration, covering refugees, migrants, and internally displaced persons (IDPs), and its implications for justice.

Making the Business Case for Climate Change Adaptation at the Community Level
by Ting Zhang | 20 August 2015
While citizens bear the brunt of the impacts of climate change, businesses have not managed to evade them either. Both rapid and slow onset events affect businesses’ core operations and supply chain. Over the long term, businesses also face increased insurance costs and more fragile business environments where climate change exacerbates social and political tensions. It is thus no surprise that businesses are becoming increasingly involved in the fight against climate change.

Using Folklore in Planning: Integrating Traditional Knowledge in Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation
by Ting Zhang | 12 March 2015
On Saturday 14th March, Japan will host the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR). One of the objectives is to adopt a post-2015 framework for DRR, the successor to the 2005-15 Hyogo Framework for Action. This commentary addresses the relevance of the grassroots level for this high-level debate by focusing on the importance of integrating traditional knowledge in DRR, particularly for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) that are facing increasing disaster risks as a result of climate change.

Adaptation Cannot Wait: Witnessing Climate Change and Conflict in Zanzibar
Ting Zhang | 30 January 2015
A team from the Conflict Prevention Program has just completed a one-week inception mission to Zanzibar, marking the start of its 30-month project on the Governance of Climate Adaptation in SIDS. Zanzibar is the primary case study for this project.

Each Child’s Right to Live on a Sustainable Earth
Manuella Appiah | 1 December 2014
November 20th marked Universal Children’s Day. What made this occasion even more memorable were the 55th anniversary of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child and the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. These frameworks have contributed enormously to the protection of many children both in developed and developing societies.

Climate and Development: Connecting Two Sides of the Sustainability Coin
Ting Zhang | 30 September 2014
On 23 September, over 120 world leaders gathered at the UN Climate Summit and voiced their concerns about climate change and the measures they are taking to tackle it. The Summit, hosted by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and which is not part of the formal United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations, aimed to raise political momentum and to galvanize action as the major global climate agreement is to be reached in Paris in December next year.

Global Environmental Change: Avoiding the Perpetuation of Inequalities
Ting Zhang | 7 March 2014
As we celebrate women’s political, economic and social achievements on the 103th International Women’s Day on 8 March, all of those who have contributed to making the world a more equal and gender-friendly place deserve to be congratulated. In the realm of global environmental change, we should applaud a gender-sensitive approach that both recognizes women’s specific vulnerability and includes their strengths. Nevertheless, this blog cautions against an approach that is too fixated on categories of people, as such an approach may perpetuate existing inequalities among various vulnerable populations rather than serving its original purpose.

Empowering and Learning from Indigenous Peoples on Climate Change
Ting Zhang | 9 August 2013
Recent years have seen many islands and other coastal areas begin to disappear because of rising sea levels, flooding, or erosion related to anthropogenic climate change. Last week, the news was that the Alaskan village of Kivalina is likely to be inundated within ten years from rising sea levels, forcing its 400 Inuit inhabitants to look for another place to live. Anthropogenic climate change affects all forms of lives globally, but the related suffering of indigenous peoples is a reoccurring theme. The injustice of this phenomenon is reflected in three areas.

News Briefs

Hague Institute Photo

National Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue on Local Climate Action Planning in Zanzibar | 28 September 2015
On 15 and 16 September, The Hague Institute and the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar organized a national multi-stakeholder dialogue on local climate action planning in Zanzibar, as part of The Hague Institute’s flagship project ‘Governance of Climate Adaptation in Small Island Developing States (SIDS)’. This project aims to analyze and improve the response to climate change impacts and to reduce disaster risks in the vulnerable SIDS.

Cross-disciplinary Workshop on Transitional Justice and Climate Change Held in The Hague | 25 September 2015
On September 21, The Hague Institute and Climate Strategies convened a multidisciplinary expert meeting on Addressing Historical Responsibility and Future-Oriented Climate Action.The event welcomed experts from climate change, social psychology and transitional justice (TJ) fields to exchange ideas on ways in which the tensions about historical responsibility could be productively resolved.

The Water Diplomacy Team: Solving Conflicts around the World | 9 September 2015
Regional conflicts related to water distribution threaten stability around the world. In response to this potential source of friction, the Conflict Prevention Program at The Hague Institute for Global Justice has prioritized water diplomacy as a core theme. Learn more about the team’s research and field work in The Hague and around the globe.

The Hague Institute Hosts Climate and Water Events at World Water Week | 31 August 2015
The Hague Institute hosted two events on climate and water at the jubilee edition of the World Water Week in Stockholm on 24 and 25 of August, respectively. This year’s theme ‘Water for Development’ coincides with the institute’s ambition to inform the negotiations and formulation of a new set of global commitments, including the post-2015 agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, a climate change agreement, and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR).

Improving the Local Response to Global Climate Change | 15 June 2015
In the first week of June, a team led by The Hague Institute organised three local workshops across Zanzibar, as part of The Hague Institute’s flagship project ‘Governance of Climate Adaptation in Small Island Developing States (SIDS)’. This project aims to analyse and improve the response to climate change impacts and to reduce disaster risks in the vulnerable SIDS.

Putting Research to Work: Brown Paper Bag | 23 February 2015
In January 2015, The Hague Institute initiated new field work in Zanzibar. As part of the ‘Governance of Climate Adaptation in Small Island Developing States’ project, carried out under the Conflict Prevention Program, researcher Sieske Valk will spend 10 months collecting data and co-organizing multi-level stakeholder discussions to address best practices on the governance of climate adaptation in Zanzibar.

Further Reading

Past Initiative: Water Diplomacy Consortium

Water management and the fair distribution of water is an issue of growing importance on the international agenda. Building on the internationally renowned Dutch…