eLibrary: Conflict. Version 1.0 (October 2021)

The purpose of this eLibrary is to introduce scientific research and debate on a range of themes on the relationship between climate change and conflict. The list is not intended to be exhaustive. For readers new to the field, we recommend reading the Abstract and Conclusion first, before deciding whether to invest further in a specific piece. All the pieces are free-online. However, some items have been republished in Academia Edu [AE] and Research Gate [RG]. These can be accessed simply by registering at each (once only). This eLibrary was prepared by Nicola C. Griffiths who has worked for the last seven years as a humanitarian relief worker in many of the world’s conflict zones.

Bronkhorst, S. (2011) Climate Change and Conflict: Lessons for Conflict Resolution from the Southern Sahel of Sudan Offers practical lessons and academic insights on resolving environment-related conflicts in Sudan and conflict-sensitive climate change adaptation.

Buhaug, H. (2016) ‘Climate Change and Conflict: Taking Stock’, Peace Economics Peace Science and Public Policy, 22, 4, [RG] Argues that climate change may exert an indirect and conditional effect on conflict risk, increasing the security gap between affluent societies well able to cope with climate change and societies already suffering from violence and instability, who are unlikely to achieve successful adaptation on their own.

Burke, M. Hsiang, S. and Miguel, E. (2015) ‘Climate and Conflict’ Annual Review of Economic Research. This article reviews the emerging literature on climate and conflict,  considering multiple types of human conflict, including both interpersonal conflict, such as assault and murder, and intergroup conflict, including riots and civil war.

Burrows, K. and Kinney, P.L. (2016) ‘Review Exploring the Climate Change, Migration and Conflict NexusInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. The potential link between climate change, migration, and conflict has been widely discussed and is increasingly viewed by policy makers as a security issue. However, considerable uncertainty remains regarding the role that climate variability and change play among the many drivers of migration and conflict. 

Courtland, A. Tobias, I. Barnett, J. & Detges, A. (2018) ‘Sampling bias in climate–conflict research’, Nature. Critics have argued that the evidence of an association between climate change and conflict is flawed because the research relies on a dependent variable sampling strategy. The article tests whether climate–conflict research is based on such a biased sample through a systematic review of the literature.

EJF (2017) Beyond Borders. A report produced by the Environmental Justice Foundation Our changing climate – its role in conflict and displacement calls for greater consensus and support for vulnerable nations to increase their resilience to climate risks and adapt to their impact and for an international agreement that will clarify the rights and ensure the protection of climate refugees.

Froese, R. & Schilling, J. (2019) ‘The Nexus of Climate Change, Land Use, and Conflicts’  Current Climate Change Reports Explore the nexus of climate change, land use, and conflict with a particular focus on the human security risks associated with the three elements, with climate change as a threat multiplier, directly aggravating human security risks, such as food and water insecurity, as well as indirectly contributing to (violent) conflict in regions vulnerable to climate change

Gilmore, E.A., e.a (2018) ‘Bridging Research and Policy on Climate Change and Conflict’ Current Climate Change Reports Reviews the results of a 2018 workshop with six papers that address different aspects of the translation of the research on climate change and conflict to policy and practice. 

Gleditsch, N.P. (2012) ‘Whither the weather? Climate change and conflict’, Journal of Peace Research, 49, 1, 3-9. A literature review that concludes that it offers only limited support for viewing climate change as an important influence on armed conflict. However, it suggests that framing the climate issue as a security problem could possibly influence the perceptions of the actors and contribute to a self-fulfilling prophecy

Gleik, P.  (2014) ‘Water, Drought, Climate Change, and Conflict in Syria’ Weather, Climate and Society Journal  Argues that although the focus on the civil war in Syria was primarily regime change, the triggers include a broad set of religious, socio-political and economic factors. The paper assesses the complicated connections between water and conflict in Syria, looks more broadly at future climate-related risks for water systems, and offers some water management strategies for reducing those risks

International Committee of the Red Cross  (2020) When Rain Turns to Dust. Understanding and Responding to the Combined Impact of Armed Conflicts and the Climate and Environment Crisis on People’s Lives Growing climate risks threaten lives, physical and mental health, and food and economic security. They also exacerbate existing vulnerabilities and inequalities. Countries in situations of armed conflict are disproportionately affected by climate variability and extremes. Based on research conducted in the interior of the Central African Republic (CAR), southern Iraq and northern Mali, this policy report explores how people experience the combined consequences of armed conflict and climate risks, and how they cope and adapt.

IEP (2021) The Ecological Threat Report 2021. Assesses the exposure of the nations of the world to climate risks and attempts to assess their resilience when confronting the challenges.

Klepp, S. and Fröhlich, C. (2020) ‘Migration and Conflict in a Global Warming Era’ Social Sciences. Specila Issue explores underrepresented aspects of the political dimensions of global warming such as post- and decolonial perspectives on climate-related migration and conflict, intersectional approaches, and climate change politics as a new tool of governance

Knudsen, M. (2020) Integrating climate change and conflict early warning: A project proposal FBA, UNDP Issue Brief, 17. Presents an action plan for how to do climate change informed conflict early warning analysis at regional level, arguing that geospatial data and analysis are underestimated tools for better understanding how climate change, peace and security risks link.

Koubi, V. (2019)  ‘Climate Change and Conflict’  Annual Review of Political Science. The link between climate change and conflict has been discussed intensively in academic literature during the past decade. This review aims to provide a clearer picture of what the research community currently has to say with regard to this nexus.

Levy, B. e.a. (2017) ‘Climate Change and Collective Violence’ Annual Review of Public Health Focuses on the increasing body of evidence concerning the relationships between aspects of climate change and collective violence. It also explores what public health professionals can do to expand the knowledge base concerning these relationships and what can be done to prevent collective violence caused, or contributed to, by climate change.

Mack, K.J. e.a. (2019) ‘Climate as a Risk Factor for Armed Conflict’ Nature, 571 Focuses on the importance of climate as a driver of organized armed conflict within countries, changes in conflict risk across climate futures, and implications for conflict risk reduction and climate change adaptation.

Mach, K.J. and Kraan, C.M. (2021) ‘Science–policy dimensions of research on climate change and conflictJournal of Peace Research. This viewpoint essay draws from recent expert assessments of climate–conflict linkages to position the research field among climate change research and assessment more broadly. 

McGuirk, E. and Nunn, N. (2020) ‘Transhumant Pastoralism, Climate Change and Conflict in Africa’ National Bureau of Economic Research. This paper examines this hypothesis that droughts in the territory of transhumant pastoralists lead to conflict in neighbouring areas, by combining ethnographic information on the traditional locations of transhumant pastoralists and sedentary agriculturalists with high-resolution data on the location and timing of rainfall and violent conflict events in Africa from 1989–2018. 

OCHA (2016) Understanding the climate-conflict nexus from a humanitarian perspective, OCHA policies and studies series. This occasional policy paper aims to improve the humanitarian sector’s understanding of the nexus between climate change and violent conflict. This is crucial, given that about 80 per cent of the humanitarian crises with an inter-agency humanitarian appeal are conflict related, and climate change is expected to exacerbate this. 

Peters, K. e.a. 2020) Climate change, conflict and fragility ODI Report. This report looks at the evidence on the links between violent conflict and climate-related hazards, disasters and natural resources. It also considers slow-onset and long-term changes in natural resources related to the climate (such as drought and land degradation), their impacts on people and livelihoods, and the incidence of violent conflict.

Selby, J. e.a. (2016) ‘Climate Change and the Syrian Civil War Revisited’  Political Geography. For proponents of the view that anthropogenic climate change will become a ‘threat multiplier’ for instability in the decades ahead, the Syrian civil war has become a recurring reference point, providing apparently compelling evidence that such conflict effects are already with us. This article provides a systematic interrogation of these claims, and finds little merit to them.

US Intelligence Community (2019) Worldwide Threat Assessment An annual report on security threats to U.S. interests, concludes that “global environmental and ecological degradation, as well as climate change, are likely to fuel competition for resources, economic distress, and social discontent through 2019 and beyond.” “Climate hazards such as extreme weather, higher temperatures, droughts, floods, wildfires, storms, sea-level rise, soil degradation, and acidifying oceans are intensifying, threatening infrastructure, health, and water and food security,” the authors of the January 2019 report wrote. (P.23)


Drought, Water, War and Climate Change Yale Climate Connections (2015)  Examines Climate Change as catalyst for crisis.

The Laws of War and Nature ICRC (2019) Asks if it is ever justifiable to damage nature when waging war? Can nature be used as a weapon? Find out what the laws of war says about the environment.