Ecological threats to security and state resilience in Afghanistan
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Institute for Peace Support and Conflict Management (IFK), National Defence Academy, Austria
Markus Gauster   

Institute for Peace Support and Conflict Management (IFK), National Defence Academy, Stiftgasse 2a, 1070, Vienna, Austria
Submission date: 2020-12-04
Final revision date: 2020-12-29
Acceptance date: 2020-12-29
Online publication date: 2021-03-10
Publication date: 2021-03-31
Security and Defence Quarterly 2021;33(1)
This work explores ecological and climate-related threats to Afghanistan and discusses support approaches from a European Crisis Management (ECM) perspective. It goes beyond the much-debated troop withdrawal, COVID-19 crisis and peace negotiations and opens an underestimated topic: ‘Climate Change Assistance’. The article aims to advance knowledge on the effects of climate change on human security in Afghanistan and advocates a conflict-sensitive approach. To this end, a climate-related assessment of the human security situation was undertaken and several threat scenarios, options and solutions for enhancing state resilience were developed. The bases for this research were several field trips undertaken by the author since 2004, workshops and an extensive literature review. As a result, it can be stated that the negative impacts of climate change and pollution on Afghanistan’s security and development architecture are massive and make ECM efforts very complex. However, several capacity-building initiatives for military, diplomatic, humanitarian and local stakeholders were identified. On the regional level, this includes the support for early warning systems and hydro-diplomacy with Pakistan, Iran and India. On the local level, the support for community water management and environmental protection matters, while building upon traditional Afghan mechanisms for handling water crises or disasters. Another outcome is the need for more in-depth research in this field as some findings are also useful for other fragile states. The paper argues that there is an urgent need for ECM to respond to the devastating effects of climate change in Afghanistan and identifies several smart opportunities to tackle some root causes of the conflict.
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