IGO:s and global climate security challenges: Implications for academic research and policy making

Climate change poses a new class of security challenges that is confronting societies worldwide. Increased risk of famine, destroyed infrastructure, houses and shelter, and violent conflicts might all be consequences of climate change through gradual changes to ecosystems and extreme weather events.

As climate security challenges are typically transnational in nature, states are increasingly relying on intergovernmental organizations (IGOs)—such as the European Union (EU), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)—in their responses to them. However, the growing importance of IGOs raises a number of questions. Should traditional security organizations such as NATO or the UN Security Council deal with climate change? Should the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) expand its work to address climate security challenges? To what degree must IGOs with mandates in different policy areas (e.g. environment, health and security) work together in order to effectively address climate change?

While IGOs are increasingly important, little is known about the conditions under which they address climate security challenges, and when they do so effectively. Over the past decade, however, research within environ- mental social sciences, International Relations, and political science has analysed the mandates, behaviour and case-specific effectiveness of IGOs addressing climate security challenges. This SIPRI Fact Sheet summarizes the key findings of the first systematic review of research on IGOs and climate security, and the implications of existing studies for the theory and practice of global climate security governance.