Climate Change

The Follow-up Review Meeting on the Roundtable Seminar on Climate Change and Fragility Implications on International Security (Summary)

April 19, 2017
Japanese

The Government of Japan decided to make good use of the insights gained from the Roundtable Seminar (Summary (PDF)Open a New Window) in the subsequent meetings of the G7 Working Group. As part of such efforts, the Government of Japan decided to convene a follow-up review meeting of experts who participated in the Seminar in order to deepen the discussions at the Seminar.

The Follow-up Review Meeting was held three times, on February 16 and 22,and March 1, to discuss how the implications of climate change for a wide range of sectors--including energy and natural resources, finance, DRR, the movement of persons (infectious disease, migration, etc.), and security--should be reflected in policies. The meeting was attended by experts from various sectors, including researchers as well as officials at think tanks and NGOs (see Attachment 3 for a list of participants). Summary (PDF)Open a New Window is here.

I. Background of the Follow-up Review Meeting

(1) Brief History of Discussions at the G7

Climate change is considered as one of the most serious challenges that pose threats to global security and economic prosperity. In 2013, under the UK presidency the Expert Meeting of the G7 countries was held, and since then the agenda has been discussed continuously at the G7 Foreign Ministers' Meeting and the Working Group.

In 2015, A New Climate for Peace, an independent report commissioned by the G7 foreign ministers to a consortium of think tanks, identified the following seven compound climate-fragility risks that individually and through their interactions could pose serious threats to the stability of states and societies. The G7 countries decided to discuss the implications of these risks for their foreign policies.

  • Local resource competition
  • Livelihood insecurity and migration
  • Extreme weather events and disasters
  • Volatile food prices and provision
  • Transboundary water management
  • Sea-level rise and coastal degradation
  • Unintended effects of climate policies

(2) Japan’s Initiatives during the G7 presidency

In this context, Japan played a leading role in G7 discussions about “climate change and fragility” during its presidency in 2016. The G7 Hiroshima Foreign Ministers' Meeting held in April recognized the urgency of addressing climate-fragility risks and stressed the importance of aligning efforts on foreign policy towards the common goal of increasing resilience and reducing fragility risks in the face of global climate change.

On January 19 this year, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan organized the Roundtable Seminar on Climate Change and Fragility Implications on International Security. The seminar was attended by some 50 experts from a wide range of sectors, including refugees, infectious diseases, maritime security, disaster risk reduction (DRR), food, oceans and water resources, and finance and business. These experts actively exchanged views on the cross-sectoral implications of climate change.

This was the first time that the Government of Japan organized a meeting that focused on climate change and security. This meeting was also significant in that it helped to raise awareness of the issue in Japan. The meeting was appreciated by many of the participants. Some participants commented that with the meeting they could deepen their understanding of the cross-cutting issues that derive from the challenge for the international community.and they recognized the importance of close cooperation between stakeholders. On the other hand, there was not sufficient time to discuss specific issues and interrelationships among various sectors in detail. The Government of Japan decided to make good use of the insights gained from the Roundtable Seminar in the subsequent meetings of the G7 Working Group. As part of such efforts, the Government of Japan decided to convene a follow-up review meeting of experts who participated in the Seminar in order to deepen the discussions at the Seminar.

(3) Convening of the Follow-up Review Meeting

The Follow-up Review Meeting was held three times, on February 16 and 22,and March 1, to discuss how the implications of climate change for a wide range of sectors--including energy and natural resources, finance, DRR, the movement of persons (infectious disease, migration, etc.), and security--should be reflected in policies. The meeting was attended by experts from various sectors, including researchers as well as officials at think tanks and NGOs (see Attachment 3 for a list of participants).

II. Ideas Proposed at the Follow-up Meeting

Several valuable insights or suggestions were gained from the processes of the Seminar and Follow-up Review Meeting with regard to actions required in three key policy sectors--climate change adaptation, development and humanitarian aid, and peacebuilding--to strengthen the resilience to climate-fragility risks. They may be put forward to the G7 Working Group.

The Government of Japan intends to propose specific ideas in the discussions on climate change and fragility in the process of the G7 Foreign Ministers' Meeting, and study specific measures that Japan could take.

(1) Case Studies on Climate Change and Fragility in Asia Region

  • It is useful to consider complex problems brought about by typhoons and other natural disasters in the Asia-Pacific region from the perspective of climate change and fragility. It will both arouse interests not only in Japan but also its neighboring countries, and will promote governments to study risk assessment or measures to respond. Through case studies on how a community should tackle with the challenges related to climate change and fragility seamlessly—from climate risk prediction and early warning to disaster reduction measures—it is possible to strengthen the resilience. Gathering such cases in various sectors may help make problems noticeable. By connecting cases in the context of Japan’s development assistance extended to Asia-Pacific countries it could be a Japan’s contribution. For example, a typhoon made more severe by climate change may destroy coral reefs, reducing catches of fish and causing shifts in the locations of fish stocks. This in turn might give rise to a conflict over fishing and marine resources or to the movement of persons, triggering social unrest. This chain of events underscores the need for adaptation policies. In a more general sense, it is necessary to strengthen the resilience in order to respond to the movement of persons and widens economic disparities because of the damages caused by natural disasters intensified by the climate change.
  • The availability of scientific data should be further examined. (This includes data on fishing resources, and scientific evidence as to whether increasingly severe natural disasters are caused by climate change or whether climate change events are related to one another, as well as practical issues; most notably, the issue of whether multiple datasets can be used in a multi-layered manner.) It is empirically known Experience shows that the food scarcity and lack of employment might induce a conflict. It is necessary to deepen the understanding that climate change is a conflict driver.

(2) Policymaking Based on the Combined Analysis of Hazard Maps and Conflict Risk Maps

  • In policymaking, it is important to integrate both climate change predictions (geographical changes) and factors or risks of conflicts over local resources as well as ethnic, economic, and social conflicts into risk maps for analytical purposes. This approach is useful in making problems noticeable if we could solve the issue of how a risk analysis should be conducted in practice and the issue of what kind of framework should be built for analysis and decision-making to reflect analysis findings in policies.
  • For analytical purposes, consideration should be given to geographical gaps between the location of the cause and of an actual disaster, as well as to temporal gaps between the immediate losses caused by a natural disaster and its consequences over the longer term.

(3) Importance of a Multi-faceted, Longer-term Perspective

  • The optimal solution from a near-term perspective may not be optimal from a longer-term perspective. It is therefore important to backcast near-term policies from a super-long-term (2100) and a long-term (2050) scenario. A multi-faceted perspective is also important, as climate change is associated with various risks, including those related to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It may not be appropriate to design a policy that seeks an optimal solution in one sector alone, since seeking such a solution may cause problems in other sectors. It is therefore necessary to design a policy that will provide practical solutions to diverse problems.
  • Development assistance practitioners focus on addressing immediate problems that they sometimes cannot afford to pay attention to the climate change events that underlie such problems. Work to cut across a wide range of problems is important, and from that perspective, input from think tanks, which is capable of analysis without being concerned about immediate problems is useful.

(4) Definition of “Climate-induced Fragility” and Promotion of its Understanding

  • Because the discussion of fragility tends to end up in an abstract argument, attention should be paid to take a concrete approach. Take infectious disease, for example. An infectious disease may break out when a new environmental burden reduces the resilience of a society or accelerates social changes. Countries or communities with a limited response capacity may cope with gradual changes but will have difficulty in coping with rapid changes. In that sense, many developing countries are more vulnerable to challenges stemming from climate change.
  • The energy problem is a factor that should be considered in terms of not only mitigation but also fragility. The utilization of renewable energy is also useful, in that it may help to prevent a competition or conflict over finite fossil fuels.
  • Fragility is a multifaceted and elusive concept. Not only policymakers but development assistance practitioners and the public at large need to have a deeper understanding of the concept. Efforts to that end may include working with influential climate broadcasters. Many climate broadcasters will be willing to explain not only day-to-day weather but also longer-term climate and meteorology. In fact, Japan once worked with the UN, the WMO, and the IPCC to raise awareness through information campaign. Targeting public relations at the younger generation, who will be playing a pivotal role in 2050 is important. Also of necessity is a perspective of demography and climate change.

(5) Significance of Discussing Fragility

  • The US Navy analyzes how sea-level rise and the increasing frequency of natural disasters due to climate change will affect their operations, with special focus on the military implications for the Northern Sea Route. Countries other than the US conduct such analyses chiefly from the perspective of how climate change will affect their development policies. It is important that countries share their knowledge among them for regional comparison, analysis, and assessment. It is necessary to remember that as a threat multiplier, climate change itself may not be the most direct or powerful driver of conflicts or problems of various kinds that cause fragility.
  • The trend in the past two to three years is that the business community increasingly views climate change and other environmental problems as business opportunities. In order to encourage leaders of the business community to engage in the issue, it is useful to have them understand climate change from the perspective of security.

(6) Climate Change as a Financial Risk

  • Finance plays a significant role as measures against climate change. Some estimate that 90 trillion dollars will be needed by 2030 to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), one of which is climate action. This cannot be financed by public funds alone, and it is important to lure private funds. Climate change also influences country risk.
  • Climate change may adversely affect the stability of the financial system. A major disaster enhanced by climate change might not only disrupt the financial system itself (financial markets in particular); it has more serious and longer-term implications, most notably the possibility that insurance companies will go under because they cannot make enormous amounts of insurance payouts. This possibility is one aspect; t the premium rate will go up after the disaster would be another.
  • Insurance products were not utilized when emissions trading was introduced. An extremely low frequency of losses and the resultant unpopularity of such products meant higher insurance premiums. Climate insurance products are necessary but they do not offer a solution to the problem. Adaptation should be viewed as a business opportunity. Japanese businesses that operate globally show interest in global risks.

(7) Science and Policymaking

  • Research institutions may provide policymakers with the outputs of global climate models, which feature satellite-based analysis and simulation. They also play a significant role in risk analysis from a super-long term perspective (a time frame up to 2100). It is important that research findings in various sectors are fed back to policymakers.
  • Food security is an issue that is directly linked to our daily lives. Focusing on this particular issue allows the public to gain a better understanding of climate-induced fragility. Also of importance are the sectors where Japanese technologies that enjoy a global competitive advantage can be taken better advantage of. In particular, Japan’s science and technology in the DRR sector, including early warning systems, should be put to better use.
  • Attempts such as the Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development (SATREPS) program and diplomacy in science and technology should not be made separately; they should be made in a package that transcends different issues of climate change. Moreover, they should be made the most of as a diplomatic tool.

Participants for the Follow-up Review Meeting on the Roundtable Seminar on Climate Change and Fragility Implication on International Security (in random order)

Ms. Mio Sato
International Organization for Migration (IOM) Tokyo-Country Office
Mr. Takahiro Ishihara
Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Command and Staff College
Dr. Yasuko Kameyama
National Institute for Environmental Studies (NIES)
Mr. Koichiro Fujii
Makaira KK
Mr. Jonathan Berkshire Miller
EastWest Institute
Ms. Atsuko Nishikawa
Conservation International Japan
Mr. Akihiko Sunami
Tokyo Metropolitan Government
Ms. Sumiko Takeuchi
The 21st Century Public Policy Institute
Prof. Taro Yamamoto
Nagasaki University
Mr. Satoshi Shigiya
Japan International Coorperation Agency (JICA)
Dr. Mikio Ishiwatari
Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)
Ms. Kaoru Nemoto
United Nations Information Centre, Tokyo
Ms. Mie Asaoka
Kiko Network
Mr. Kunihiko Shimada
KS International Strategies, Inc.
Mr. Yoshiharu Tachibana
The University of Tokyo
Mr. Kazuhiko Takemoto
United Nations University
Ms. Ayumi Fukakusa
FoE Japan
Mr. Mark Elder
Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES)
Ms. Mari Yoshitaka
Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley
Ms. Masako Konishi
World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Japan
Mr. Takejiro Sueyoshi
UNEP Finance Initiative
Dr. Gen Sakurai
National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO)
Dr. Daisuke Sano
Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES)
Mr. Naoyuki Yamagishi
WWF Japan
Mr. Eric Zusman
Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES)
Dr. Hideo Tomikawa
National Institute for Defense Studies, Japan (NIDS)
Mr. Akira Ogiwara
Institute for Global Environmental
Strategies (IGES)
  • An Overview of the Roundtable Seminar (see the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website):