Tuesday, 30.08.2022

PSCC Talk: "Climate change and security phenomena in the Sahel: what impacts on stability in the region?

As part of its virtual conferences called "PSCC Talk" the Peace and Security Competence Centre of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES PSCC) Dakar organised on Tuesday 30 August 2022 a virtual conference on the theme "Climate Change and Security Phenomena in the Sahel : what impacts on stability in the region?"

Few other regions in the world have such marked climate variability as the Sahel. The area suffers one of the most difficult environmental situations in the world. It is an area characterised by hostile conditions for survival. Natural resources are limited and the climate is unstable, with high temperatures almost all year round and heavy rains that cause flooding. These circumstances mean that the region is permanently subject to "climate uncertainty". Over the past 50 years, the average temperature in the Sahel has risen by about 0.5 degrees Celsius, and it is estimated that by the end of the 21st century it could be as much as 2 degrees Celsius warmer than the current average, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This warming will have a direct impact on people, animals and vegetation, and could drastically reduce arable land or, in the worst case, make some areas inhospitable by 2050. This climatic fragility is illustrated by the advancing desertification process in the Sahel around Lake Chad, although there is little evidence that this is a direct consequence of global warming. Over the past six decades, it has shrunk from an area of about 26,000 km2 to just over 2,500 km2 at present.

In the Sahel, although environmental factors are not the direct cause of the insecurity that characterises the area, they add to a set of elements that determine it and contribute to its aggravation. At least, climate change has a clear multiplier effect on existing risks, exacerbating so-called old or communal conflicts between pastoralists and farmers, and increasing vulnerabilities due to its adverse effects, among others. This trend is alarming enough to understand how the change this environmental phenomenon affects development and regional stability according to the Sahel-Europe Dialogue Forum held in Madrid in June 2018. A worrying situation that deserves to be analysed in depth to promote appropriate solutions to minimise the risks of instability with glaring economic impacts for the populations of the Sahel.

The emphasis placed on the security implications of climate change is helping to bring this phenomenon into the realm of international politics, by giving it the status of a major threat to the stability of states and the world. Recent security events in the Sahel (development of international terrorism, illicit trafficking, growing vulnerabilities) place it at the centre of global security concerns.

Moderated by Aminetou BILAL, Advocate for Youth and Women Empowerment, Peace, Security and Environment (Mauritania) and Dr. Birama Apho LY, Director of the Centre d'Analyse et de Recherche de l'Espace Sahélo-Sahélien (Mali), the conference was moderated by Colonel (Er) El Boukary MOUEMEL, President of the Oum Tounsi Centre for Strategic Studies (Mauritania).

The following points were debated and discussed:

  • Can we establish the link between environmental and security dynamics in the Sahel ?
  • What could be the impact of climate change on the stability of the sub-region in the short, medium and long term ?
  • What strategies could be adapted at national and continental level to anticipate and act effectively on the impacts of climate change on the stability of the Sahel ?

The exchanges were rich and fruitful thanks also to the participation of experts on security issues, academics, researchers, members of civil society organisations, and defence and security forces of several African nationalities (Benin, Mali, Burkina Faso, France, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Chad).

Peace and Security Centre of Competence Sub-Saharan Africa

Point E, Rue de Fatick x Boulevard de l'Est,
Residence Bity Lokho, 6th floor
B.P. 15 416
Dakar - Fann

+221 33 859 20 02