SIPRI Report Warns of Global Security's "New Era of Risk"

SIPRI Report Warns of Global Security's "New Era of Risk"

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) just released a worrying new report titled, "Environment of Peace: Security in a New Era of Risk.” The document warns of an imminent global crisis with environmental catastrophes, such as extreme flooding, wildfires, and heat, coupled with socio-economic crises, such as conflict-related deaths, widespread starvation, and corruption. According to researchers, the conditions "are feeding each other in dangerous ways … darkening [the] security horizon.”

Governments are having to deal with simultaneous emergencies on both environmental and social fronts, which exacerbate each other. To prevent a compound global crisis during this "new era of risk,” SIPRI recommends combining "peacebuilding and environmental restoration, and effectively addressing the underlying environmental issues.”

SIPRI: Environment of Peace report launch, May 22, 2022.

SIPRI: Margot Wallström on Environment of Peace, November 9, 2020.

Why This Matters

Without a unified global plan, the world is "stumbling into these intertwined dangers,” says SIPRI researchers. Already, 83% of disasters in the last decade have been climate-related events that killed over 410,000 people and impacted 1.7 billion more. In addition, the number of state-based armed conflicts and conflict deaths doubled from 2010 to 2020, with the latest being the Russia-Ukraine War which has resulted in egregious war crimes claims and more than 14 million displaced people.

"Nature and peace are so closely linked that damaging one damages the other. By the same reasoning, enhancing one enhances the other," says SIPRI director Dan Smith. "Action is possible -- and the time to act is now."

SIPRI’s report coincides with the ninth annual Stockholm Forum on Peace and Development, where the authors hope to convince politicians and policy-makers to start taking climate change’s threats to global security more seriously.

Bertelsmann Foundation: A Global Security Threat | Climate Change, February 28, 2022.

ABC: Climate change and national security, October 25, 2021.

Bloomberg: Viewing Climate Change as a Threat Multiplier for Instability, September 20, 2019.

Interconnected Crises

SIPRI’s report is not a futuristic plausibility; the crises are very real and very current. In Central America, climate change has altered seasonal rain patterns, increased temperatures, and diminished fresh water supply in streams, resulting in widespread crop failure. Coupled with increased poverty, unemployment, and violence, people are migrating away from their homes toward the US border.

Climate change is a complex, interconnected issue that affects dozens of countries and will not be resolved through political isolation. SIPRI’s report argues that cooperation is "essential for managing the environmental and security crises, along with the risks they create.”

"No government can secure the well-being of its citizens against the escalating global crises without international cooperation,” stated Helen Clark, the former Prime Minister of New Zealand and a member of the advisory panel for SIPRI’s Environment of Peace initiative. "We must urgently find ways to cooperate on addressing common environment-related security threats, even in today’s toxic geopolitical landscape. Against global threats, cooperation is self-interest. In fact, cooperation is the new realism.”

Amanpour and Company (PBS): The Great Climate Migration Has Begun, May 24, 2021.

WW0: General Stan McCrystal and John Kerry Instagram Live conversation on national security and the climate crisis, October 27, 2020.

WW0: Facebook Live conversation on national security, climate migration and the climate crisis, September 9, 2020.