A Ukrainian boy "plays" war in a village near Kyiv
Photo: GLEB GARANICH / REUTERS
Climate change, scarcity of resources, species extinction: Even without the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine, the world is currently full of problems.
From the point of view of the Sipri research institute, the international community is currently hardly in a position to tackle this together.
Accordingly, a dangerous mixture of environmental and security crises is currently harboring complex risks for peace in the world.
In a report published today, peace researchers from Stockholm warn that decision-makers are not prepared for this “new age of risks”.
The Sipri report paints a bleak picture of the future global security situation.
The researchers show how environmental crises - climate change, scarcity of resources, extinction of species - interact with security crises and other threats such as the corona pandemic.
In Somalia, for example, persistent drought and other consequences of climate change, combined with poverty and a weak government, have driven people into the arms of the Islamist terrorist militia al-Shabaab, they say.
In Central America, the effects of climate change on grain harvests, combined with violence and corruption, increased migration towards the United States.
»A time falls when international politics is in a terrible state«
"Many environmental experts argue that we are at a crucial point: we can let the environmental crisis take its course or recognize the problem now and do something about it," said Sipri director Dan Smith of the dpa news agency.
"The bad news is that this extremely important moment comes at a time when international politics is in a terrible state." Relations between the great powers are "toxic and dangerous", populism and nationalism are on the rise.
According to the report, both the number of armed conflicts involving at least one state and the number of people killed in conflicts doubled in the 2010s, as did the number of refugees and displaced people worldwide.
After years of decline, the number of operational nuclear warheads rose again in 2020.
Last year, global military spending peaked at more than $2 trillion.
At the same time, the report describes alarming developments in the environment.
About a quarter of all species are threatened with extinction.
The number of pollinating insects is declining dramatically.
"Climate change ensures that extreme weather events such as storms and heat waves occur more frequently and more intensely, thus reducing the yield of important food crops and increasing the risk of large-scale crop failures." Politicians must assess risks better and tackle the fight against environmental crises decisively.
»Poisonous, profound and harmful«
Even in the face of acute crises such as the corona pandemic and the war in Ukraine, we must not lose sight of this goal, Smith warned.
»It seems that most governments can only handle one crisis at a time.
That is an enormous complication factor.« The pandemic has also shown what is possible with determination and international cooperation – for example in the development of vaccines.
Sweden's former Foreign Minister and EU Environment Commissioner Margot Wallström writes in the foreword of the report: "The mixture is toxic, pervasive and harmful.
And institutions with the power to find solutions are waking up far too slowly.«