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Climate Security in the Indo-Pacific: Strategic Implications for Defence and Foreign Affairs
25 Oct 2021

On 25 October 2021, the Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) Programme at the RSIS Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies (NTS Centre) hosted a virtual roundtable titled “Climate Security in the Indo-Pacific: Strategic Implications for Defence and Foreign Affairs”. Chaired by the Head of NTS Centre, Professor Mely Caballero-Anthony, the roundtable brought together experts from defence and foreign policy communities around the Indo-Pacific region.

Ms Rachel Fleishman (Senior Fellow for Asia Pacific at the US Center for Climate and Security) spoke on the US perspective of climate security and the relationship between the US State Department and the Defense Department in dealing with the effects of climate change. Dr Dhanasree Jayaram (Assistant Professor and Co-coordinator, Centre for Climate Studies, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, India) discussed the Indian government’s view of climate change and the potential role that regional organisations such as the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) could play. Focusing on the need for militaries to be aware of and adapt to climate change, Colonel (Ret.) Ian R. Cumming (Former climate and security adviser at the Australian Department of Defence) provided several suggestions for potential actions that can be taken by militaries to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Professor Ono Keishi (Professor, National Institute for Defense Studies, Japan) expanded on the complexities caused by climate change, including rising geostrategic competition, before wrapping up with a discussion of Japan’s climate change strategy. Dr Alistair D. B Cook (Senior Fellow and Coordinator of the HADR Programme at NTS Centre) discussed the importance of a whole-of-society approach to climate change, providing suggestions for the future direction of climate change strategies. Dr Pichamon Yeophantang (Senior Lecturer, University of New South Wales, Australia) focused on China’s changing climate change strategy, including its hesitance to securitise climate change.

One of the questions from the participants touched on the potential for engagement on climate change being used to mitigate US-China relations. Other questions raised covered the integration of climate security into other sectors and the potential transition of militaries towards renewable energy.

In conclusion, Prof Caballero-Anthony also observed the point raised of the importance of climate literacy among the public in the efforts towards climate security.

Catch it here on the RSISVideoCast YouTube channel:

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