Civil-Military Collaboration to Address Adaptation to Climate Change in South America

  • March 24, 2011
  • Dr Kent H Butts, Ms Marcela Ramirez

The economic vitality of the South American region is threatened by the effects of climate change. Climate change often exacerbates existing environmental crises such as drought, water scarcity and soil degradation, intensify land use conflicts (especially in the Andean and Amazon Regions) and trigger environmentally induced migration. Glaciers are retreating and natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes are becoming more frequent and severe, exacting a heavy toll on the population and the economic infrastructure of the region. Successful adaptation measures may require multilateral cooperation to preempt these destabilizing affects before they impact on government legitimacy and threaten regional security. While civilian agencies will normally be the lead for proactively addressing climate change adaptation, they may be insufficient, or absent in distant frontier and border areas where only the military is present. In efforts to address these regional concerns, the U.S. Southern Command co-hosted two climate change-related events in South America. The first one in Colombia was focused on climate change adaptation, and the second in Peru, was focused on low carbon sustainable economies, both events emphasizing civil-military collaboration on the issues.