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NATO Climate Change and Security Centre of Excellence

Updates

NATO officially accepted Canada’s formal offer of a Climate Change and Security Centre of Excellence (COE) in May 2022.

The establishment of a Climate Change and Security Centre of Excellence is an ongoing initiative led jointly by Global Affairs Canada and the Department of National Defence.

Background

Climate change is one of the defining challenges of our time. The growing impacts 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. The effects of climate change also shape state and non-state actor behaviour in diverse ways that are not yet fully understood. Women, girls, Indigenous populations, those living in poverty, and other vulnerable or marginalized populations are often particularly at risk from the direct and indirect effects of climate change. For all of these reasons, Canada and many of our global partners acknowledge the need to better understand and address climate change security challenges.

Canada’s Defence PolicyStrong, Secure, Engaged (SSE), recognizes climate change as a security challenge both at home and abroad. In Canada, climate change effects are transforming the physical and security landscape, and bringing about an evolving set of challenges. Severe effects such as 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 those in need. Around the world, the effects of climate change pose a threat, worsening existing vulnerabilities with direct and indirect impacts on the security environment. Due to these factors, we must apply a climate change lens when working to maintain peace and security.

Through policies such as SSE, the Defence Energy and Environment Strategy (DEES), and the Greening Government Strategy, Canada is committed to integrating climate change in our security and defence work. Canada is also working to reduce the severity of future climate change through urgent measures to decrease greenhouse gas emissions, including emissions from the defence sector. Progress is being made, however, to find a global solution, we must continue to work with our partners to address climate and security challenges.

NATO Climate Change and Security Centre of Excellence proposal

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 impacts may test the resilience of military installations and equipment, create harsher or more complex operational conditions, and change the nature of the strategic environment, which poses unique challenges for military and security actors charged with maintaining our security.

At the NATO Summit in June 2021, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Canada’s proposal to establish and host a NATO Climate Change and Security Centre of Excellence (COE). Canada is currently working toward the establishment of this COE, together with our NATO Allies.

What will this Centre of Excellence accomplish?

This COE will be a platform through which both military actors and civilians will develop, enhance, and share knowledge on climate change security impacts. It will also allow participants to work together to build required capabilities and best practices and contribute to NATO’s goal of reducing the climate impact of our military activities. Besides hosting this centre and supporting its operation, Canada will bring its unique knowledge and abilities across a range of relevant sectors to the functioning of the COE. Through the cooperative efforts of its participants, the work of this COE will enhance the security of Canada, NATO Allies and partners, and people around the globe.

Canada contributes to several additional NATO COEs by providing financial support, personnel, or other valuable services. Specifically, Canada supports the following COEs:

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

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