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NATO Climate Change and Security Centre of Excellence

Updates on the initiative

NATO Climate Change and Security Centre of Excellence (CCASCOE) opened its doors in Montreal in late 2023. It is expected to become fully staffed and operational by the end of 2024.

Climate change and security

Climate change is a defining challenge for Canada, NATO Allies, and global partners. The growing effects of a changing climate pose direct and indirect threats to human and national security worldwide. Extreme weather events and climate pattern changes can threaten human life and wellbeing, economic security, political stability, public safety, property, and critical infrastructure. Climate change also amplifies existing vulnerabilities and disproportionately impacts vulnerable and marginalized groups, including women and girls and Indigenous Peoples. For these reasons, Canada and global partners recognize the need to better understand and address climate change related security challenges.

Climate change is a security challenge both at home and abroad. This is underscored in Canada’s latest defence policy update, Our North, Strong and Free: A Renewed Vision for Canada’s Defence. In Canada, the effects of climate change are transforming the physical and security landscape, particularly in the Arctic, which is heating at a pace about four times the global average and bringing about an evolving set of challenges faced by our Northern communities. Additionally, natural disasters like floods and wildfires are increasingly impacting communities and threatening critical infrastructure. This places more demands on first responders, emergency services, and the Canadian Armed Forces to help affected communities.

Through policies such as Strong, Secure, Engaged (SSE), Our North, Strong and Free, the Defence Climate and Sustainability Strategy (DCSS), and the Climate Resilience and Environmental Sustainability Science and Technology Strategy (CCREST), Canada integrates climate change as a core element of its national security. Canada is also working to adapt to the effects of climate change and, at the same time, mitigate the severity of future climate change. This includes through measures to decrease greenhouse gas emissions, including emissions from the defence sector.

The NATO Climate Change and Security Centre of Excellence

As the world’s leading political and military alliance, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has a clear role to play in addressing the security implications of climate change. Climate change effects may test the resilience of military installations and equipment, create harsher or more complex operational conditions, and change the nature of the strategic environment.

At the NATO Summit in Brussels in June 2021, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Canada’s proposal to establish and host a NATO Climate Change and Security Centre of Excellence (CCASCOE) and at the NATO Summit in Madrid in June 2022, Montréal, Québec was announced as the host city. One year later, the founding NATO Allies (Sponsoring Nations) of the CCASCOE signed the Centre's Operational Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) at the July 2023 NATO Summit in Vilnius. Canada’s then Minister of National Defence, the Honourable Anita Anand, signed the MOU on behalf of Canada as the CCASCOE Framework Nation with the eleven fellow Sponsoring Nations’ representatives from Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Norway, Romania, Türkiye, and the United Kingdom. The NATO CCASCOE opened its doors in Montréal in late 2023. It is expected to become fully staffed and operational by the end of 2024.

What the CCASCOE will accomplish

The CCASCOE is jointly led by Global Affairs Canada and the Department of National Defence.

The CCASCOE is a unique platform for both military actors and civilians to develop, enhance, and share knowledge on climate change and security effects, and to develop the means and best practices to respond to these challenges. It also allows participants to work together to build required capabilities and best practices and contribute to NATO’s goal of reducing the climate impact of military activities. Besides hosting this Centre and supporting its operation, Canada will contribute its unique perspectives and best practices as a Northern, Arctic nation. The work of the CCASCOE will enhance the security of Canada, NATO Allies and Partners, and the global community.

Canada contributes to several other NATO COEs by providing financial support, personnel, or other valuable services, including:

Canada is also an active member of the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats in Finland.

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