Ecological threats, peace and COVID19

In the webinar on “Ecological threats, peace, and Covid-19” -offered by Steve Killalea- we saw the environmental, social, political, economic and technological aspects of global change. During the last decades, more complex challenges have emerged regarding conflict, ecological threats and now, sanitary issues. The evolution of our realities leads to the necessity to define a new understanding of peace.

The Institute for Economic and Peace has created the so-called ecological threat register, to account and be able to foresee and prevent conflicts due to ecological situations. According to it, 141 will be exposed to at least one ecological threat between now and 2050. Just adding 19 of these 141 nations, they account for the home to 2.1 billion people; and 10 of them are among the 40 least peaceful countries of the world. These relates to two main points: conflict and migration.

According to Professor Killalea, there are three clusters of ecological hotspots which are susceptible to collapse: the Sahel-Horn of Africa belt (from Mauritania to Somalia), the Southern Africa belt (from Angola to Madagascar), and the Middle East and Central Asian belt (from Syria to Pakistan). On the other hand, the three major immigration routes due to ecological threats will be (and are already): from Latin America to the US and Canada, from the Sahel and Sub-Saharan Africa to Europe, and from South Asia and the Middle East to Europe.

By 2050, 1.2 billion people will be living in high risk, low resilience countries, and therefore they will have to face displacement from their homes. The potential conflictual power of this situation is huge, and the Professor directly pointed out that these ecological threats will inevitably lead to failed states, as they will not be able to manage the economic, social and humanitarian crisis they will carry. It is a clear example of the vicious cycle between resource degradation and conflict. There is already 60% less fresh water available per person today than there was in the early 1960s. The number of water-related conflict and violent incidents increased by 270% worldwide in the last decade, and forecasts do not find much improvement if not big changes are made.

Ecological risks will mainly threat countries with very fragile peace, and the possible consequences of ecological crisis on them can put pressure in the whole international system if conflicts start.