Session Summary:  Climate Change & Global Security: A Closer Relationship Than One Might Think?

Kate Guy, Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Climate and Security, Washington, D.C. 

Janani Vivekananda, Head of Programme Climate Diplomacy and Security, Adelphi, Berlin (virtually)  

Alexander Verbeek, Editor, The Planet, Brussels (virtually) 

Brian Moran, Vice President, Global Sustainability Policy & Partnerships, Boeing, Chicago (virtually) 

Led by: Rachel Rizzo, Adjunct Fellow, Center for a New American Security, Washington, D.C. 


Generally acknowledged as a “threat multiplier”, climate change is no longer part of only the environmental agenda but is also pervading all the other aspects of our societies, including the defence sector. It is hence also a security issue and the longer we wait to adequately address it, the worse its effects on our societies will be. 

In the light of the recent G7 meeting and NATO Brussel Summit, it is visible that the leaders are becoming more concerned about the impacts of climate security and its potential to enhance regional instability. The panellists have generally welcomed the introduced initiatives, saying they are of a huge symbolic significance of making climate change a security issue that needs to be disseminated to all the relevant agencies. 

However, it is important that the debates about mitigation of climate change start to shift more towards adaptation. While mitigation is indeed important, the ongoing impacts such as extreme weather conditions or natural disasters must be recognized, followed by comprehensive strategies on how to adapt to them. Building resilience should be a key component of these adaptive strategies. 

Being of global importance, all the panellists have agreed that climate change has the potential to overcome geopolitical tensions. As Kate Guy from the Centre for Climate Security stressed out, “all countries are facing immense impacts and it is in their best regional intentions to prevent the situation from worsening.” 

Though the phenomenon of climate change is already widely recognized, there is still more room to grow in terms of training and educating the public sector. In this context, Brian Moran from Boeing believes that the private sector will also play its role in know-how sharing and helping to optimize the public processes with new technologies to decrease the carbon footprint.