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译:Averting climate conflict

来源: 时间:2011-7-29 10:16:00 点击:

This week, the UN Security Council met to debate the risks of climate change. Now is the time to shift our focus from direct environmental impacts to broader threats at a local level, writes Janani Vivekananda.


In March 2007, the United Kingdom took the landmark step of putting the issue of climate change as a priority security risk to the United Nations Security Council. Four years on, Germany, which currently holds the presidency of the body, has reignited the debate, placing global warming and security back on the council’s agenda at a meeting yesterday. After a fierce discussion on the question of whether or not climate change poses a direct threat to international peace and security, the council issued a statement expressing concern over the “possible adverse effects”.
With the negative impacts of climate change already being felt around the world – most strongly in already poor and unstable states – why in four years has the debate stood still on this pressing security issue? What steps need to be taken to regain some of the political momentum behind the idea that climate change has an impact on security?
The nature of the relationship between climate change and conflict is interlinked and complex. Sectors such as water, agriculture, energy, health and trade will be highly affected by climate change and this could have a destabilising impact on a state’s ability to provide people with basic services. As climate change impacts interact with features of the social, economic and political landscape, countries with weak governance systems will become overwhelmed, and face a high risk of falling into political instability and violent conflict. The risk of instability both adds to the burdens faced by vulnerable communities, and makes it harder for them to adapt to climate change.
In southern Nepal, for example, when the Koshi River burst its banks in the summer of 2008, 240 people were killed, crops and infrastructure destroyed and 60,000 people displaced in the worst flooding in five decades.These people were resettled amongst communities who were themselves struggling to survive. Tensions between the host communities and flood victims quickly escalated and were further fuelled by political groups who used flood-victims’ unmet expectations for clean water and shelter to feed anti-government sentiments. The situation became violent and 200 policemen were called in to maintain order in the camps.
Clearly, climate change is not a climatic issue alone. Furthermore, it is evident that the security implications of climate change are first felt at the local level, and this is where they need to be understood.
In order to peacefully respond to climate change, we must not only consider the immediate natural impacts of climate change, but also the broader dimensions of resilience such as political power, livelihoods and access to justice. It is the interaction between the physical consequences of climate change and the social and political realities of people’s lives that will determine how effectively and peacefully they can adapt to climate change.
This is even more important in fragile contexts. Fragile states are characterised by very limited governance capacity where the government is barely capable of performing key functions, such as protecting citizens and property rights, enabling a functioning market, and providing social services, particularly education, health and sanitation. States which have recently emerged from conflict, as well as those facing economic instability or political unrest are also particularly vulnerable.
The uncertainties surrounding the impacts of climate change also hinder effective action; particularly in the third pole region, with the vagaries of Himalayan glacial melt flows and unpredictable feedback loops. Given the political contestation that accompanies uncertainty, and the complex social landscapes within which these impacts will play out, the most productive way of addressing the issue is to focus on “resilience”: that is, the capacity of a system to withstand shocks and respond to change – including unexpected change.
“Resilience” is a broader, more flexible, and therefore a more useful approach to climate change than “adaptation’. The latter tends to focus on specific anticipated climate effects, while resilience focuses on the capacity of people to act; for example their education, family networks, or access to markets.
Resilience, however, is most difficult to achieve where it is most needed –in places where states fail to meet people’s basic needs. States recovering from conflict such as Nepal, politically unstable countries like Pakistan, or environmentally vulnerable areas like Bangladesh may lack the capacity to adequately respond to environment shocks. Furthermore, where governance is already weak and the relations between citizens and the authorities are stretched, inappropriate responses to climate change may inadvertently cause further harm.
For example in Tajikistan, a multilateral donor-funded project aimed at providing local communities with a predictable water supply in the face of diminishing river flows, has caused conflict between two local ethnic groups. Tensions are grounded in the belief that the project is benefitting one community at the expense of the other; a situation which may or may not be true, but the perceptions of which are sufficient to fuel unrest.
Policy discussions about the consequences of climate change are beginning to acknowledge the conflict, security and governance implications. These concerns however focus on trans-boundary and international security implications, rather than local-level realities. They neglect the strong linkages between vulnerability to climate change, poverty and conflict. They pay scant attention to the complex vulnerabilities of households and communities. And they fail to acknowledge that the first trembles of climate-related insecurity will manifest at the local level before they threaten to escalate to the national or transnational level. It is at the local level that these vulnerabilities can most effectively be addressed.
In fragile contexts more than anywhere else, it is essential to realise how climate impacts – such as changing rainfall patterns, increased natural disasters and constraints to carbon-based economic growth – will have knock-on consequences on the national economy, trade, development, equity, governance andpolitical stability. For example, the rapid growth in use of crops for biofuels to ensure energy security in the face of soaring petrol prices, not only reduced food availability, but also drove millions of people off the land and contributed to food riots in 30 countries around the world. Such consequences affect the ability of people and governments to respond constructively to the challenges of climate change. The devastating floods that ravaged Pakistan last year fuelled widespread political unrest due to the perceived inability of the national government to adequately respond to people’s needs.
One characteristic of both understanding the problems and proposing solutions in this context is to focus on the linkages between development, peace, and climate resilience. For example, it would be impossible to address food insecurity without also thinking about land degradation and biodiversity, water management and biofuel production. It is not possible to address any one issue in isolation without understanding how they interact with each other, and how they interact will uniquely depend on the particular local dynamics at play.
Whilst there is increasing acknowledgement of the links between climate change, development and security within policy circles, beyond the rhetoric, practical measures to address these linked goals remain superficial, off-target and isolated. Most of the energy devoted to discussing climate-change adaptation focuses on responding to the direct environmental risks of climate change, for example by switching crops, building flood defences, moving homes and building dwellings differently. Important as it is to address the direct impacts, it is the knock-on social consequences – such as conflicts between displaced flood victims and host communities – that ultimately require more attention and resources. These knock-on consequences will be the most far reaching, yet remain the least understood. 
So with Germany reigniting the debate on climate change and security on the UN stage this week, a window of opportunity opens to consider the complex and interlinked risks posed by climate change to local-level security. Policy responses to climate change and security must take account of the broad dimensions of resilience – not just drought-resistant crops and embankments to protect people from floods, but also: access to early warning information and the capacity to interpret and act on it; relationships of trust between citizens and authorities; viable livelihoods options, rule of law and efforts to combat corruption.
If these issues are taken on board, there is a good chance that adaptation efforts could yield a double dividend: increasing resilience to climate change and developing new approaches to poverty reduction. Failure to take account of the linkages however will result in widespread mal-adaptation and a monumental wasted opportunity.
                                                                                             (译文如有出入请联系本会,来源于chinadialogue)

译   文:

规避气候冲突

     联合国安理会今天开会讨论气候变化带来的危险。佳纳妮•维韦卡南达指出,我们必须把注意力从广义的环境威胁,转移到地方区域性的直接环境安全问题。


  2007年3月,英国向安理会递交了一个关于把气候变化列为优先考虑的安全风险的提案,这是一个标志性的举措。四年后,担任安理会轮值主席国的德国再次点燃了这个讨论,并将气候变化与安全问题列入了昨天(7月20日)的议程。经过对“环境变化是否对国际和平和安全造成直接影响”这一问题的激烈辩论之后,安理会发表了一个声明表达了对“可能造成的负面影响”的关注。
  在气候变化的负面影响在世界各地愈演愈烈(其中受害最大的是那些本就贫困和动荡的国家)的时候,为什么整整四年中对这个迫在眉睫的安全问题的讨论却毫无进展?我们要采取那些措施才能重新聚集起政治势头,来支持“气候变化影响安全”的这一理念?
  气候变化与冲突之间关系的本来就是密切关联而且错综复杂的。水、农业、能源、卫生和贸易等部门将受到气候变化的严重影响,这将对一个国家向人民提供基础服务的能力产生动摇性的冲击。由于气候变化影响与社会、经济和政治形势的相互作用,那些政府弱小的国家可能会遭受灭顶之灾,面临陷入政治动荡和暴力冲突的巨大风险。这个动荡的风险一方面加重了脆弱社区面临的负担,一方面也让它们更加难以适应气候变化。
  比如,2008年尼泊尔科西河发生决堤,形成五十年一遇的大洪水,造成240人死亡,庄稼和基础设施被毁,6万人无家可归。这些灾民被安置在其它村庄内,但这些村庄本身就在生存线上苦苦挣扎。很快,当地村民和灾民之间的矛盾日益升级,还有一些政治集团利用灾民们对清洁用水和住所得不到满足的不满情绪煽风点火,以散播它们的反政府情绪。最终形势变得暴力化,政府不得不调动200余名警察到难民营维持秩序。
  显然,气候变化绝不是一个单纯的气候问题。同样显而易见的是,气候变化的政治意义首先会在地方的层面上被感觉到,因此也必须在这个层面上得到人们的充分理解。
  为了和平地对气候变化作出反应,我们不仅要考虑气候变化迫在眉睫的自然影响,还要考虑更广泛的效应,比如政治力量、生计和公正的实现。决定对气候变化适应行动有效性与和平程度的关键因素有两个:一个是气候变化客观后果,一个是人们生活中的社会和政治现实。在脆弱的环境中,这一点尤为重要。脆弱国家的特征就是治理能力十分有限,政府几乎没有什么发挥关键功能的能力,这些功能包括保护公民的人身财产安全、维持有效的市场运作以及提供社会服务,特别是教育、医疗和卫生服务。那些近年来才从暴力冲突中产生的新国家、面临经济或政治动荡的国家的脆弱性也尤为突出。
  关于气候变化影响的不确定性也会阻碍有效的行动,特别是在第三极地区,喜玛拉雅冰川融水变化多端,反馈环也捉摸不定。考虑到伴随着不确定性的政治争论,以及这些影响将会带来的复杂社会情势,解决这一问题最有效果的办法就是把重点放在“弹性”上,即一个社会系统承受冲击、对变化(包括意料之外变化)作出反应。 “弹性”比“适应”更加广泛、灵活,因此也会更加有用。后者更加注重预期中具体的气候影响,而弹性则注重人们行动的能力,比如他们的教育、家庭网络和市场准入。
  但是,在那些最需要弹性的地方,在那些国家无法满足人民基本需求的地方,弹性却往往是最难实现的。那些正在从冲突中恢复的国家,如尼泊尔;政治上动荡的国家,如巴基斯坦,以及在环境上十分脆弱的国家,如孟加拉国,都没有足够的能力对突然的气候灾难作出反应。此外,在那些政府本就已经十分软弱,公民与当局之间的关系本就已经十分紧张的地方,对气候变化的不当反应不慎还会造成更严重的伤害。
  以塔吉克斯坦为例,这里有一个多方资助的项目,目的是在河水流量日益减少的情况下,为当地社区提供可靠的供水。但结果却引起了两个当地族群的冲突。发生冲突的原因就是人们认为这个项目是在牺牲一个族群的利益去造福另一个。尽管事实情况未必如此,但人们心中认定的想法已经足以造成动荡。
  关于气候变化后果的政策探讨已经开始触及冲突、安全和治理方面的内容。然而这些关切主要集中在跨境和国际安全方面,而非地方层面的现实。它们忽视了对气候变化脆弱性、贫困以及冲突之间的联系。它们对家庭和社区复杂的脆弱性几乎毫不注意,也没有认识到气候相关的威胁首先体现在地方层面,然后才会扩展到国家乃至国际层面。而且这些脆弱性在地方层面能够得到最有效的解决。
  在脆弱的环境里,认识到气候影响(比如变化的降雨模式、自然灾害的增加以及以碳为基础的经济增长)对国家经济、贸易、发展、公平、治理和政治稳定的连锁后果就显出无与伦比的重要性。比如在油价高企的情况下为了确保能源安全,生物燃料用作物种植的迅速增长带来了一系列的后果:不仅减少了粮食生产,而且让千百万的人们失去土地,造成了全世界30余个国家的粮食骚动。这些后果影响到人们和政府对气候变化威胁进行积极反应的能力。去年席卷巴基斯坦的洪水激发出此起彼伏的政治动荡,原因就是人们认为该国政府没有能力充分满足人们的需求。
  在这个语境下理解问题,找出解决办法的一大特色就是把焦点放在发展、和平和气候弹性的联系上。比如,要解决粮食安全问题,不考虑土地退化与生物多样性、水源管理和生物燃料生产之间的关系是绝对不行的。如果没有对其相互作用、以及这些相互作用对特定的地方动态的依赖程度的深刻理解,任何问题都不可能得到独立的解决。
  尽管政策圈对气候变化、发展和安全的关注已经越来越多,但实现这些相联目标的切实行动仍然很肤浅、失当而且孤立。人们对气候变化适应讨论的精力主要都集中在对气候变化的直接环境风险做出反应,比如换种作物、修建防洪设施、移民安置等。其实连锁性的社会后果与这些直接影响同样重要,比如洪灾受害者与安置地原有社区的冲突,这些后果的消除最终还需要更多的关注和资源。上述连锁性后果是最深远的,但也是最缺乏认识的。
  因此,随着德国本月在联合国的舞台上再次点燃关于气候变化和安全的讨论,一扇新的机会之窗开启了,我们可以认真考虑气候变化给地方层面安全带来的复杂性和相互关联的各种威胁。这场讨论以及随之而来的对气候变化和安全的政策反应必须考虑到如何让人们具有“弹性”。这不仅是抗旱作物和保护他们免受洪灾的堤防,还要有早期预警信息以及对其进行解毒和作出反应的能力、公民与当局之间的信任关系、多样的生计选择、法治和反腐。如果这些条件能够得到实现的话,气候适应努力就很有可能产生双重的效果:一方面提高对气候变化的弹性,另一方面还会开发出新的减贫方式。但如果没有把上述关联考虑进去,就会产生广泛的适应不良,并且浪费一个宝贵的机会。

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