Climate change is today one of the greatest risks to peace and security, but arguably remains at the margins of policy action amid the loss of trust in multilateral institutions. The impacts of climate change are already felt by local communities in regions on the frontline. While communities have exercised agency to generate local impact and promote trust, the overwhelming impact of climate change necessitates effective state responses, and regional and global cooperation. Global cooperation, in turn, needs to better address the challenges to peace and security faced by regions most exposed to the impacts of climate change.
Southeast Asia is already experiencing direct climate change impacts from changes in temperature, precipitation, sea-level rise, ocean warming, and more frequent and intense extreme weather events. The subsequent indirect climate change impacts on food and water security, and changes in natural resource exploitation and migration patterns, affect the lives and livelihoods of people and communities across the highly diverse region and threaten its peace and security.
In Southeast Asia, the cross-cutting impacts of climate change on peace and security can be analysed through the framework of comprehensive security. Comprehensive security is the organising concept of security in the region, integrated and widely reflected in the security lexicon in the ASEAN region and beyond. Unlike the conventional notion of security, which is narrowly defined to mean defending state borders from military attack, comprehensive security is a much broader conceptualisation of security that “[goes] beyond (but does not exclude) the military threats to embrace the political, economic and socio-cultural dimensions”.
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