Extreme weather events and conflict (2) | Inquirer Opinion
Kris-Crossing Mindanao

Extreme weather events and conflict (2)

On April 15, 2015, the Group of Seven (G7), issued a declaration that highlighted its commitment to tackle “climate-related risks in states experiencing situations of fragility.” An intergovernmental forum, the G7 consists of Canada, the United States, France, Italy, Germany, Japan, and the United Kingdom. The European Union (EU) participates in this forum as a “non-enumerated member.”

Collectively, G7 countries, including the EU, fund at least two-thirds of global development initiatives. As a developing country, the Philippines is the recipient of multiple and different types of development programs from G7 countries, as well as from the EU.

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In their declaration, G7 foreign ministers declared that “climate change is among the most serious challenges in our world. It poses a threat to the environment, global security, and economic prosperity.” Such a threat will push back some progress achieved in global poverty, among others.

Earlier, G7 commissioned an independent consultancy group to examine the relationship between climate change and fragile and conflict-affected states in different parts of the world. The findings of this investigation are included in the report, “A New Climate for Peace: Taking Action on Climate and Fragility Risks.”

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The report identifies seven “compound risks” that are interlinked that make climate change a “threat multiplier” (US Department of Defense, 2014), especially in fragile and weakly governed states. These are local resource competition; livelihood insecurity and migration; extreme weather events and disasters; volatile food prices and provision; transboundary water management; sea-level rise and coastal degradation; and unintended consequences of climate policies.

In its conclusion, the G7-commissioned report stressed the importance of integrating policies and programs in three key sectors, namely: climate change adaptation, development and humanitarian aid, and peacebuilding. For these key sectors, multipronged, integrative, and comprehensive policies and programs are needed to address the compound risks brought about by climate change.

The seven compound risks identified in this report are quite noticeable in the fledgling Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), as shown in the key findings of our exploratory research project on “Climate Fragility Risks in the (Philippine) Bangsamoro,” that I already mentioned earlier in my previous column.

Using a combination of both qualitative and quantitative data gathering methods, our study aimed at generating evidence on how climate change and fragility had posed (and could pose) joint and new risks in past (and possible future) violent conflicts in the Bangsamoro.

Quantitative approaches used were the following: extrapolating conflict data sets from the 1960s to 2020, using information from comprehensive database of conflict incidence from the Uppsala Conflict Dataset program and that of the Bangsamoro Conflict Monitoring System of International Alert; analysis of satellite imagery of land use changes, as well as of long-term climate variations in the region from 1960s to 2020; and analysis of price fluctuations of basic food commodities in the region for the past five decades. The research team also analyzed long-term climate data that yielded information on intense precipitation and long droughts in the region within the five-decade timeline.

On the other hand, qualitative data gathering tools included a focus group (community-based) discussion guide and a key informant interview schedule. The information gathered through the qualitative tools corroborated the data culled from the quantitative approaches.

Among our key findings are the following: for the past 50 years (1960s to the present) the BARMM, formerly the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, has had the highest exposure to intermittent and sometimes cyclical violent conflicts compared to other regions in the country. This exposure has resulted in more than 120,000 deaths, with an unaccounted number of missing persons, as well as undocumented cases of different forms of disabilities among its population. Both informants and group discussion participants narrated experiences of different levels and layers of inequality (in the past and present) and massive human rights violations, especially at the height of the martial law years (1970s to mid-1980s). They also recalled how extreme weather events (like the long drought season in the 1970s) facilitated the incursion of Philippine military tanks and howitzer launchers into the sprawling Ligawasan Marsh, where the municipalities of Datu Piang, Rajah Buayan, and Pagalungan are located.

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(To be continued)

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TAGS: BARMM, G7 summit, peace
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