The pace of changes in the planet's climate has no precedent in the history of civilization. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Security Council recognize that climate change is a threat to human security. Potential links between natural hazards or scarcities and conflict have been publicly acknowledged by political officials and made their way into international forums such as the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, the European Security Strategy, and the UN High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges, and Change. The Mediterranean, Middle East and the Sahel are among the regions in the world most exposed and vulnerable to floods and droughts.
While the scientific literature does not seem to support the thesis that water scarcities are a cause of inter-state wars, there are valid concerns about the possibility of low intensity and violent intra-state conflict prompted by extreme hydrological events such as droughts or floods. Hydrologically-triggered disasters, such as drought-inflicted famines, flash-floods and land-slides or river floods threaten human security and can be a source of suffering and involuntary migration. Existing studies show that climate extremes do not automatically cause disasters, conflicts or migration. Social factors often matter more than environmental. Conflict is unlikely in areas with good institutions, preparation plans in place and cohesive functional societies with social support. And conflict is not always bad or cooperation good. Conflict can prompt institutions to address problems and to reduce vulnerabilities, while cooperation can mask domination and continued vulnerabilities and sufferings.
These complex and context-specific inter-dependencies between environmental, social and political-economic factors call for inter-disciplinary, cross-comparative research covering a variety of geographical and historical contexts. This is what CLICO is all about.