Ecological Threats Fuel Conflict and Displacement

A 25% increase in food insecurity elevates the risk of conflict by 36%, while a 25% rise in the number of people without access to clean drinking water raises the likelihood of conflict by 18%. Food insecurity and water stress are tightly interlinked, with regions having a history of conflict and weak governance being the most susceptible, said the Ecological Threat Report, produced by the Institute for Economics & Peace.  


 Presently, 42 countries grapple with severe food insecurity, with nearly one billion individuals residing in these vulnerable areas. Global food prices have surged by 33% since 2016, exacerbating the strain on susceptible populations, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa.


Two billion people currently live in countries without access to safe drinking water. By 2040, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is predicted to encounter water stress levels akin to Sub-Saharan Africa. Eight out of the 12 countries in Russia and Eurasia are already grappling with notable water challenges.


 Demographic pressures, especially in regions like sub-Saharan Africa, are amplifying ecological risks, stretching public resources and societal resilience. By 2050, the region’s population is set to surge by over 60%, substantially intensifying the strain on food and water resources.


 Climate change magnifies the perils linked to natural disasters, encompassing droughts, floods, cyclones, and storms. Countries with low resilience and peace levels experience significantly higher mortality rates during such calamities.


 The tally of megacities is expanding and is projected to reach 50 by 2050. A multitude of these megacities are located in countries with low per capita income and elevated levels of violence. Swift urbanization in these metropolises is spawning issues such as crime, poverty, traffic congestion, and environmental pollution.


 Countries heavily reliant on fossil fuels could confront economic challenges during the transition to a green economy. For instance, nations like the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Libya, Iraq, Angola, and Timor-Leste derive a substantial chunk of their GDP from fossil fuels and may witness a GDP decline of up to 60% between 2030 and 2040 due to ecological challenges and low societal resilience.


Conflict, ecological threats, food and water stress collectively contribute to forced displacement. Over 108 million people are currently displaced, with 30% relocating more than 500 kilometers away from their home countries. A substantial percentage of illegal entries in Europe often originate from ecologically threatened and conflict-ridden nations.


Nations boasting high levels of Positive Peace possess the resilience to confront ecological challenges. Investment in programs designed to cultivate positive resilience and drive economic progress is of paramount importance.

The report underscores the imperative for collective action to address ecological threats and nurture resilience in the face of climate change. Failure to do so may usher in escalated conflicts, forced migration, and further ecological degradation. The intricate interplay between ecological threats and societal resilience stands as a pivotal factor in shaping the trajectory of global peace and security.


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