Climate change in UK security policy: implications for development assistance?
The paper explores changes related to the inclusion and framing of climate change in UK security policy and the possible implications for overseas development assistance (ODA). It is argued that the framing of climate change within the security realm does not necessarily equate to a subsequent shift in UK ODA programming priorities and funding allocations. There is evidence to suggest climate change has been ‘securitised’, if this is understood to mean the (re)framing of climate change from an environmental/developmental to a security perspective. However, if securitisation is understood to mean a subsequent change in practice, programming and funding, this has not occurred in ODA.
The framing of an issue largely determines the level of priority, the departmental responsibility and the mechanisms established to manage the issue. The findings are important because funding and action taken to address climate change will thus vary drastically depending on the framing.
The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has championed two UN Security Council debates on climate change, energy and security. Both of these debates, and the fact they have even taken place, have been the source of much controversy; which raises important questions as to the extent to which a common understanding of the climate change–security nexus is accepted at the international level. Within the UK, through the latter part of the 2000s, there was a dramatic shift in the weight given to and inclusion of climate change in national security strategies. Yet the climate-security narrative being promoted by the FCO has not translated into changes in programme priorities and funding allocations, largely controlled by the Department for International Development (DFID). The findings pose several challenges to the UK’s commitment to a cross-departmental approach to addressing climate change.
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