Takeaways from the 2022 Berlin Climate Security Conference

By: Anneka Williams

Last week (October 11-12) I had the opportunity to attend the Berlin Climate and Security Conference (BCSC) hosted by adelphi, the German Federal Foreign Office, and Climate Diplomacy.  

As someone who is quite new to the field of climate security and environmental peacebuilding, I came to this year’s edition of the Berlin Climate Security Conference with an open mind and an eagerness to learn. The conference passed in a two-day whirlwind of panel events, plenary sessions, and chats over coffee with other participants (most of whom are experts in their respective fields).

But a fourteen-hour train ride as I traveled back from Berlin to our Samoëns, France office gave me ample time to reflect and note down some of my key takeaways from the panels, events, and conversations I attended in Berlin.

Inclusivity is key.

Climate change doesn’t discriminate and neither should our actions to adapt to and mitigate climate change. A major theme throughout the conference was the importance of inclusivity, with different panelists calling for stronger inclusion of female, youth, and other marginalized voices.  Climate action needs to be inclusive to ensure that it doesn’t exacerbate existing inequities and reinforce security issues. At all levels of governance and throughout all climate work (and work in general), we need to do a better job at including women, youth, and other marginalized groups.

Multilateral partnerships are important.

Just as the impacts of climate change aren’t distributed evenly across the globe, neither are resources and knowledge for addressing climate change and associated risks. Some countries have more money, some have more technical knowledge or research expertise, some have more real-time lived experiences of climate change. Connecting the dots on these different experiences, resources, knowledge pools, and skill sets is vital to ensuring that we are building global resilience in response to a changing climate.

The topic of the Green Energy Transition is perhaps one of the best ways of underscoring the need for cooperation. Such a transition relies on a certain set of minerals needed to support the development of clean energy technologies. In a time of global energy crisis and insecurity, these minerals are receiving even more attention. Considering how to mine these minerals sustainably and without negatively impacting mining locales and then considering how to fairly distribute the minerals, technology they enable, and funding related to their use will require working across different governance, political, economic, and social systems.

Climate security should be civilian-centered.

It can be easy to lose sight of the ultimate goal with this work when talking about the overwhelming topics of climate change and cascading risks. One of the panelists reminded participants to continue to ask ourselves:  “what/who is it we are securing?” Another panel session emphasized the importance of data transparency and the need to share data on climate security with the communities it pertains to. Both sentiments are a good reminder to keep the work that we are doing civilian-centered, to remember the fact that it is in the service of supporting diverse, healthy, sustainable, and secure communities.

Financing is crucial.

Across different panels, speakers highlighted that lack of climate financing and excessively earmarked funding can be major barriers to advancing work and implementing projects. Considering how to harness more funding that will be effectively and meaningfully applied toward addressing climate change is an important step to ensuring that climate security risks can be adequately addressed.

What’s next?

For me, conferences like this always bring a range of emotions. Excitement from being in a new city. Humility and a healthy dose of impostor syndrome stemming from being surrounded by some of the best of the best. Anxiety at how many issues there are to be tackled. Urgency as I sense that we are running out of time for certain things. Hope that there is so much good work happening. Sadness that not everyone who is important in this work is included or represented at a conference like this. Committed to continuing to put in the work to contribute to climate-resilient, sustainable communities everywhere. And curious about how best to direct my energy.

For now, I’m grateful to be settled back into the Alp Analytica office in Samoëns and eager to get back to work!