“Climate Risks and Resilience – Highlighting Initiatives to Face Common Challenges” was the theme of a special meeting of The Hague Roundtable on Climate & Security at George Washington University (GWU) in Washington D.C. on Tuesday 24 April. The event was co-hosted by the GWU Elliott School of International Affairs and the Embassy of the Netherlands to the United States.
Room for the River
The Ambassador of the Netherlands to the United States, Mr. Henne Schuwer, in his presentation described a Dutch history of flood adaptation, and mentioned that by 2025, 1.8 billion people globally may live in water-scarce areas stemming from causes including population and demand growth, climate change, urbanization and poor water management. He highlighted the new Dutch Water Peace & Security Initiative to contribute to solutions on scarcity and shared examples of water management. These include the large Maeslant flood barrier, built to protect the Port of Rotterdam and the “Room for the River” programme, to give rivers more space in order to better manage higher water levels.
Creating an institutional home for climate security
Climate specialist in the Netherlands Mission to the United Nations, Nelaam Melwani, led a discussion on progress and challenges in elevating the importance of water and climate at the UN Security Council. She listed further action in working with partner countries from the March 2018 Dutch presidency of the Security Council, including on scarcity and instability in the Lake Chad area. Participants continued with views on implementing points of the Hague Declaration on Planetary Security, particularly “Creating an Institutional Home for Climate Security”, potentially within the Security Council.
The Water Peace & Security Initiative was further detailed by Charlie Iceland of the World Resources Institute and Ruben Dahm on behalf of Deltares. IHE Delft is a co-creator of the Initiative, which is a response to the urgent threat the reduction in water security globally causes to human security and social stability. The two-year pilot program aims to contribute to increasing human security through four areas of work: Understand, Mobilize, Learn, and facilitate Dialogue.
The World Resources Institute and Deltares also shared developments in their initiatives around forecasting and identifying potential water stress situations.
Responding to climate-related threats
The role of the military in responding to climate-related threats to human well-being and stability was highlighted – from a U.S. perspective – as an area for possible regional and global cooperation. Humanitarian missions after extreme weather events and management of larger-scale migration were some immediate areas of concern, as well as strategic changes to operations brought on by variations in the Gulf Stream and new areas of operation related to melting Arctic ice. It was summarized that a decade ago climate and security were rarely mentioned in the same sentence, but now many have connected water, climate change, and natural resources to the field of security. The Roundtable discussions identified a clearer convergence between what is happening and made projections for the near future.
In the afternoon Roundtable session, adaptation to sea level rise was part of the dialogue after the screening of the documentary film “Tidewater,” which focuses on the impact of sea level rise on U.S. coastal military installations and communities on the East Coast. Representatives from Deltares and others shared their experience addressing similar situations in other areas.
Download the programme here.
This Roundtable meeting was made possible with support of the Embassy of the Netherlands, the George Washington University Elliott School, Deltares, IHE Delft, the World Resources Institute, the Center for Climate and Security and the Institute for Environmental Security School. See the programme link above for more information on presentations and participants.
The Roundtable initiative, created and organised by Matt Luna of IHE Delft and the Institute for Environmental Security, aims to increase international cooperation on addressing climate impacts on water resources, disaster/flood events, migration, and stability of fragile states