The report examines how climate change and ecological degradation, particularly deforestation and poor land use practices, intersect to undermine security and create instability. It analyzes how this nexus affects security in four categories: the intra-state, inter-state, and non-state actor levels, as well as looking at Indigenous and vulnerable populations through a lens of justice and equity. It then offers concrete recommendations aimed at both managing existing risks and preventing catastrophic risks in the long term. This work is a part of Council on Strategic Risks' greater mission to address these converging risks under its newly expanded Ecological Security Program, an initiative of the Converging Risks Lab.
The report indicates that scholars and stakeholders need to continue to study this nexus and its security implications in further depth to deepen understanding of the causal pathways to insecurity, potential feedback loops, policy implications, and potential solutions. High-level security organizations such as the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and others need to incorporate, discuss, and address ecology as a security issue in its own right by 2030. States and the international community should develop innovative mechanisms to integrate the protection of forests and strategic ecological areas into counter-narcotics and counter-extremism campaigns. Furthermore, new diplomatic and information sharing channels should be aimed at relieving tensions between states driven by resource-stress issues. Initial steps could include technical exchanges to facilitate data sharing. The international community should more fully integrate an ecological security lens into existing conflict prevention and peace-building mechanisms. The report also emphasizes the use of robust early warning systems for states and regions – spearheaded by multilateral institutions and/or regional entities. These systems could help detect microbial migration and disease outbreak trends, which can help significantly relieve public health infrastructure stresses. As corrupt practices play a significant role in ecological degradation and civilian trust in government institutions, interventions must be aimed at promoting good governance and preconditioning aid on the adoption of robust anti-corruption measures.