With a backdrop of the war in Ukraine, which exposed vulnerabilities in food security and sparked the energy crisis in Europe, the Mistra Geopolitics research team, board members and stakeholder partners met to discuss the future of an ever-more relevant programme.
Two years into the second phase of the Mistra Geopolitics research programme, experts shared their latest insights and discussed results from the research themes of food security, sustainable oceans, decarbonization and foresight. Partners from Adelphi, E3G, AP3, the Haga Initiative, and the Swedish Defence University – Försvarshögskolan, together with recently graduated and new PhD candidates, contributed to a series of workshops and parallel sessions. The programme’s research team also took the opportunity to start thinking strategically about how to harness resources moving toward the end of the programme in 2024.
Björn-Ola Linnér, programme director of Mistra Geopolitics, opened the annual conference, followed by two inspirational keynote speeches from Helena Rietz, Senior Adviser to Mr. Stefan Löfven and co-chair of the High Level Advisory Board on Effective Multilateralism, and Robert Egnell, board member of Mistra Geopolitics, vice chancellor of the Swedish Defence University and professor of leadership.
Human security in the age of international armed conflict
International conflicts, such as the war in Ukraine, change the geopolitical scenario and shift the attention from other pressing issues, such as adaptation, the pandemic, or environmental degradation, which lose momentum or priority for governments. Conflicts affect everything from food insecurity to energy crises, and countries on the outside of ongoing conflicts may see the need to arm themselves or be otherwise prepared for spill-over impacts. International conflicts have influenced the nuclear debate in Sweden, where instead of problematizing nuclear weapons, they have come to be seen as an instrument of deterrence.
Thinking about how to deal with a post-war scenario is important because whatever the outcome would be of, for example, the war in Ukraine, it will lead to unresolved tensions, distrust and shifts in strategic loyalties. Egnell, who is vice chancellor of the Swedish Defence University and professor of leadership, shared a few points where he sees synergies and opportunities for collaboration in a post-war scenario:
- Building civil defence capabilities in an open and transparent way, instead of offensive capabilities. When it comes to climate change, the potential exists to focus on a hidden use of defence capabilities: disaster relief and response to natural disasters, such as forest fires and flooding, which will change patterns with a changing climate.
- Working on disarmament together. Countries that feel threatened may have common fears about what new technologies such as artificial intelligence and automation can do on the battlefield.
- Having conversations on countries’ common limitations, such as arms control, adaptation measures to climate change and civil defence, can slowly build back trust to tackle broader security issues and global agendas.
Video: Robert Egnell, board member of Mistra Geopolitics, shared his reflections on how a human security approach can support climate change adaptation efforts.
Improving multilateral cooperation
Decision-making at a global scale requires concrete recommendations to improve multilateral cooperation on peace, security, climate change and the environment. As co-chair of the High Level Advisory Board on Effective Multilateralism, Rietz shared insights and open questions around some of the areas of great concern for the board: elevating the environment in global agendas, securing sustainable energy for all, equity and fairness on how the responsibility of climate change is distributed, setting ambitious targets, de-risking finance for the green transition and reducing barriers in the uptake for climate technology.
Rietz highlighted the key role public and private capital can play to support the green transition. However, she noted, that the financial system still needs mechanisms to “de-risk” or remove risks for green investing, and that international financial institutions may need reforms that have yet to be determined.
For further information, please contact:
Maria Cole is a Senior Communications Officer at Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) based in Stockholm.
Telephone:+46 70 224 20 22
Ylva Rylander is a Communications Officer at SEI. As a core member of SEI’s communications team and previous Press Officer of SEI, Ylva writes and edits press releases, develops communication plans and creates news stories. With 15 years of experience in public relations, awareness raising and external communication, she also provides strategic advice to SEI and Mistra Geopolitics researchers to help them maximize the impact of their research.
Telephone:+4673 150 33 84