In support of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2250, SDSN Youth is producing a thematic paper to investigate the impact of climate change and ecological crises on the peace and security of young people. This thematic paper is an official supporting document of the Progress Study mandated by SCR 2250, which the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres will submit to the Security Council and General Assembly in December 2017.
The thematic report will determine how youth can be empowered to address the impacts of climate change and alleviate security challenges as a means of preventing rather than responding to conflict. The paper will also outline a series of policy and programme recommendations for the UN Security Council in its mandate to address the impacts of climate change on youth populations.
About UN Security Council Resolution 2250
In December 2015, the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted the ground-breaking and historic Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace & Security. UNSCR 2250 is a thematic resolution dealing specifically with the topic of youth (defined as ages 18-29) from an international peace and security perspective.
The resolution provides a series of guidelines upon which policies and programs will be developed by the UN, member states, as well as civil society. It also explores (i) how conflict impacts the lives of young people, (ii) what must be done to mitigate its effects and (iii) how youth can be meaningfully included in creating peaceful communities.
The resolutions is considered a landmark legal framework as it not only focuses on the devastating impact of armed conflicts on youth, but also highlights the role that young people play in managing conflict and establishing peace processes. Officially, the resolution for the first time:
Recognizes the constructive and positive role of young women and men in the maintenance and promotion of peace and security
Affirms young people’s important role in the prevention and resolution of conflicts
Stresses the importance of engaging youth as partners and leaders in peacebuilding
Urges Member States to increase inclusive representation of youth in decision-making
Security Council Resolution 2250 also requests the Secretary-General to carry out a Progress Study on youth’s positive contribution to peace processes and conflict resolution, in order to recommend effective responses at local, national, regional and international levels. SCR 2250 further requests the Secretary-General to make the results of this study available to the Security Council and all the Member State of the United Nations.
For further information, the United Nations Organization of Young Peacebuilders (ONOY) has gathered a number of useful documents and ideas into a toolkit to help you understand the importance and content of the resolution and advocate for its implementation in your community and country. Available here.
Introducing Security, Climate Change & Youth
Young people are uniquely affected by humanitarian crises and conflict. Even though more than 600 million youths are living in fragile and conflict-affected countries, they are seldom called upon to initiate solutions to development challenges.
It is only recently, through the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 2250, that both the importance and positive role of young women and men in the promotion and maintenance of international peace and security has been recognized. Initiatives such as the ambitious Compact for Young People in Humanitarian Action (of which SDSN Youth is a member) are a testament to this fact and are promoting the case for youth-led development.
Increasingly, reports and academic studies are finding strong causal evidence linking climate change and ecological crises to conflict across all major regions of the world. Food insecurity, water stress, forced migration and economic recessions are some of the impacts associated with climate change, which has been termed a ‘threat multiplier’. However, the ways in which climate change uniquely impacts the security and development prospects of youth populations remains as of yet unstudied.
An analysis of the impact of climatic events on youth, peace and security is critical for understanding the underlying mechanisms for how forced migration, conflict and security challenges apply specifically to young people. It is further important to help inform young people and future leaders on how to solve development challenges.
Methodology & Research Questions
The thematic paper will consider the broader impacts of climate change and how they may bear on youth populations. While climate change may trigger violent conflict, it will do so through a range of other impacts, such as forced displacement, unemployment, disruption to education, poverty and famine etc. The YPS team will specifically study the relationship between climate change, the human security challenges outlined above and how youth as a distinct constituency are uniquely impacted.
The thematic paper will also propose policies and programmes on how to better engage youth on environmental issues and support peacebuilding, as well as determine how youth might be empowered to address the impacts of climate change and alleviate security tensions as means of preventing rather than responding to conflict.
The thematic paper is structured around one overarching research question and three sub-questions:
What are the evidenced and potential impacts of climate change on young people’s opportunities for peace and security?
What potential security challenges might climate change pose to young people?
In what ways might these challenges be addressed through policies and programming?
How may youth be empowered to address the causes and adapt to the impact of climate change in ways that ensure the security of themselves and their communities?
Regionally, the thematic paper will focus on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) as this region already provides an ample sample size of known conflicts impacted by climate change, including Syria and Sudan (Darfur). The research paper will be supported by:
i. An in-depth literature review
ii. Interviews with 30+ academic, public policy and youth experts
iii. A survey administered in the geographic areas under study.