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Pablo Tosco/OXFAM

European responses to transboundary climate impacts and insecurity

This brief assesses to what extent climate security and transboundary climate impacts feature in key European policies and strategies. It recognises that these are considerably well integrated, but a gap remains between rhetoric and effective action on the group. The paper concludes with concrete policy recommendations for the EU to build greater resilience in the MENA region and the Sahel, in the face of transboundary climate impacts that escalate via security relations.

Policy Brief

Published on 28 October 2022


The impacts of climate change can aggravate security risks across international borders. In both the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and the Sahel, climate change has been indirectly linked to insecurity and violence. As climate impacts are likely to worsen in the coming years, negative geopolitical implications for Europe can be expected, such as massive humanitarian crises and security challenges in neighbouring regions.

In recent years, the European Union (EU) has added references to climate change and transboundary climate impacts to its key policies and strategies, including those on security. However, a gap remains between rhetoric and effective action to achieve the much-needed comprehensive approach. The reasons can be found in institutional fragmentation, policy incoherence and the lack of understanding of how the EU’s own green transition process can adversely affect partner countries, for example, in the MENA region and the Sahel.

This paper makes 10 recommendations for how the EU and its partners can move towards a more comprehensive approach to climate security and more effective adaptation to transboundary climate impacts. The proposals include support for stronger decentralised governance systems and inclusion of local communities in responses to climate security risks, as well as increasing adaptation finance dedicated to fragile regions.