Examining Climate-Conflict Links in Southeast Asia
Cheong, Darren | February 2022
The security implications of climate change have become a focus for world leaders and global policymakers in recent years. One of the leading security concerns about climate change is its potential to spark violent intra-state conflict.1 With this growing interest in the possibility of climate change being related to conflict, researchers have also focused on uncovering whether such a link exists and if so, how they are linked. There have been protracted debates about whether climate change is indeed linked to violent conflict. While some studies have been unequivocal about the existence of a climate-conflict link, others note that the empirical findings across studies have not been consistent and robust. Experts have agreed that it is difficult to make broad generalisations about the findings of such studies and that the existence of climate-conflict links should be contextualised in specific local or country settings. Even though Southeast Asia is one of the regions projected to be most affected by climate change, the vast majority of studies looking into the climate-conflict link have not been in the region. Nevertheless, there has been growing research interest in the region, and a number of studies have looked at specific pathways linking climate change to conflict. While research in the region is still relatively nascent, there is growing indication that a climate-conflict link is supported by evidence in the literature and that policymakers should take note of climate-related conflict risks. Synthesising the findings of 11 peer-reviewed studies on climate and conflict in Southeast Asia, this article aims to provide evidence-based perspectives on the exact mechanisms linking climate and conflict in the region. In the context of these studies and for the purposes of this article, conflict is defined as intra-state violence that can occur on various scales. Smaller-scale civil conflict will involve events such as violent protests, riots or forced evictions while larger-scale civil conflict can involve insurgencies, rebellions and terrorist activity. These insights will be helpful in crafting prevention and mitigation strategies that target climate-related conflict. The articles reviewed in this article were found using Boolean search strings on two academic databases: ScienceDirect and Web of Science. These studies come from various disciplines – economics, political science, geography, and anthropology – and both quantitative and qualitative studies were reviewed. A list of these studies can be found in the Appendix.
CitationCheong, Darren. 2022. Examining Climate-Conflict Links in Southeast Asia. © ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute. http://hdl.handle.net/11540/14846.
Climate impacts assessment
Global climate change
Soils and climate
Climate change mitigation
Communication in rural development
Rural enterprise zones
Rural manpower policy
Environment impact analysis
Urban climatologyShow allCollapse