embargo Climate change set to worsen resource degradation and conflict, report says

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Clouds gather but do not produce rain as cracks are seen in the dry, drought-stricken Graaff-Reinet municipal dam in South Africa on November 14, 2019. REUTERS / Mike Hutchings

MADRID, October 7 (Reuters) – A vicious cycle linking the depletion of natural resources to violent conflict may have passed the point of no return in some parts of the world and is likely to be exacerbated by climate change, according to a report released Thursday.

Food insecurity, water scarcity and the impact of natural disasters, combined with strong population growth, fuel conflicts and displace people in vulnerable areas, said the think tank of the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP).

The IEP uses data from the United Nations and other sources to predict the countries and regions most at risk in its “Ecological Threats Register”.

Serge Stroobants, IEP director for Europe, Middle East and North Africa, said the report identified 30 “hotspot” countries – which are home to 1.26 billion people – as facing most of the risks.

This is based on three criteria relating to resource scarcity, and five focusing on disasters, including floods, droughts and rising temperatures.

“We don’t even need climate change to see a potential system collapse, only the impact of these eight ecological threats can drive it – of course climate change is making it stronger,” Stroobants said.

Afghanistan gets the worst score in the report, which says its ongoing conflict has hampered its ability to cope with risks to water and food supplies, climate change and alternating floods and droughts .

According to the findings, conflicts in turn lead to further degradation of resources.

Last year, six seminars comprising governments, military institutions and development groups sent back the message that “the international community is unlikely to reverse the vicious circles in some parts of the world,” IEP said .

This is particularly the case in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa, which have seen more and more conflict over the past decade, he said.

“With tensions already mounting, climate change can only be expected to have an amplifying effect on many of these problems,” the report said.

Reporting by Isla Binnie; edited by Barbara Lewis

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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