Projecting long-term armed conflict risk: An underappreciated field of inquiry?


In this article by Nina von Uexkull et. al. the authors discuss why long-term projections of conflict risk in response to climate change are necessary for shaping policy agendas. Studies with this focus are not widely available because projections can be uncertain and data availability might be challenging. Despite these constraints, authors argue that combining insights from qualitative and quantitative risk assessments can improve the reliability and usability of long-term projections results.  

Armed conflict risk in response to climate change. Photo: lkpro / Shutterstock.
Armed conflict risk in response to climate change. Photo: lkpro / Shutterstock.

Key messages

  • Long-term conflict risk projections as a result of climate change have the potential to trigger deliberations as well as provide a starting point for policy interventions with a long-term perspective in mind.
  • Short-term predictions such as early warning systems are not complemented by long-term risk projections caused by climate change.
  • Scientific limitations, such as methodological difficulties in explaining the outbreak of armed conflicts as well as its restrictions in terms of applicability, can explain the lack of scientific funding to demonstrate its potential.


The authors highlight three reasons why long-term projections research focused on armed conflict risk and climate change is necessary:

  1. Adopting a long-term perspective on possible futures of conflict in relation to climate change can assist decision-making in settings such as the Instrument for Stability and Peace at the EU level.
  2. Advancing scientific progress in long-term projections can facilitate discussions that can lead to a better understanding of what information is needed for policies.
  3. Consolidating both socioeconomic and environmental scenario development with conflict risk.

Based on the points highlighted above, the scientific community is encouraged to improve quantitative and qualitative long-term conflict risk projections linked to climate change.


de Bruin, Sophie & Hoch, Jannis & von Uexkull, Nina & Buhaug, Halvard & Demmers, Jolle & Visser, Hans & Wanders, Niko. (2021). Projecting long-term armed conflict risk: an underappreciated field of inquiry?

Authors of this publication

Nina von Uexkull ,