Environment and Security

Kenya's Nobel Prize laureate Wangari Maathai confronting hired security forces during a Green Belt Movement operation.

Kenya’s Nobel Prize laureate Wangari Maathai confronting hired security forces during a Green Belt Movement operation. (AFP/Simon Maina)

Africa is projected to suffer the greatest near-term effects of global warming of any region in the world, despite having contributed the least carbon emissions. Climate change will impact the viability of Africa’s arable land, power sources, and coastal cities, leading to rapidly escalating resource pressures as the continent’s population doubles by 2050. Tens of millions of African climate migrants are anticipated in the coming decades as global warming drives worsening storms and weather disasters, amplifying instability and complexity in Africa’s security landscapes. Following are a selection of Africa Center products that track climate-related pressures and their security implications.


African Biodiversity Loss Raises Risk to Human Security

December 7, 2022

Declines in Africa’s rich ecological biodiversity threaten millions of livelihoods, increased food insecurity, conflicts over land, and transmission of zoonotic diseases that can lead to more pandemics.


Rising Sea Levels Besieging Africa’s Booming Coastal Cities

November 8, 2022

Rising ocean levels threaten dozens of Africa’s rapidly expanding coastal metropolises, resulting in shrinking land area, coastal flooding, more powerful storm surges, and the need for better mitigation.


Illegal Logging in Africa and Its Security Implications

By C. Browne, Catherine Lena Kelly, and Carl Pilgram
August 12, 2022

Illegal logging is a growing feature of transnational organized crime in Africa, often facilitated by the collusion of senior officials, with far-reaching security and environmental implications for the countries affected.


Cycles of Escalating Threats Facing Africa from Global Warming

June 17, 2022

Reinforcing cycles of unsustainable human activity and intensifying climate effects are exacerbating the threats facing hundreds of millions of Africans.

Cyclones and More Frequent Storms Threaten Africa


Cyclones and More Frequent Storms Threaten Africa

May 24, 2022

Global warming is causing an increase in the frequency and intensity of storms in Africa, which are exacerbating other socioeconomic stressors across the continent.


Climate Change and Security in Africa

March 7, 2022

This public roundtable assessed the range of climate-related security pressures on the continent and the importance of incorporating environmental security into African security policy.


How Global Warming Threatens Human Security in Africa

October 29, 2021

Global warming is contributing to more and extended heat waves, a tripling of droughts, a quadrupling of storms, and a tenfold increase in flooding in Africa since the 1970s—exacerbating security threats on the continent.

The Growing Complexity of Farmer-Herder Conflict in West and Central Africa


The Growing Complexity of Farmer-Herder Conflict in West and Central Africa

By Leif Brottem
July 12, 2021

The rise of farmer-herder violence in Africa is more pernicious than fatality figures alone since it is often amplified by the emotionally potent issues of ethnicity, religion, culture, and land.


Climate Change Amplifies Instability in Africa

April 21, 2021

Climate change is straining livelihoods across broad swaths of Africa, intensifying instability in multifaceted ways. The continent’s ability to adapt to and mitigate these effects will have global repercussions.


Nigeria’s Diverse Security Threats

By Mark Duerksen
March 30, 2021

Nigeria faces an array of security challenges beyond Boko Haram. Distinguishing these threats and understanding their socio-geographic contours is essential for adapting customized solutions.


Food Insecurity Crisis Mounting in Africa

February 16, 2021

Acute food insecurity in Africa has increased by over 60 percent in the past year and threatens to widen further as the effects of COVID-19 exacerbate other drivers such as conflict and political mismanagement.

Tilling soil in Senegal. Photo: IFPRI/Milo Mitchell


Combating Desertification in Africa an Imperative for Security

June 16, 2017

The effects of desertification are widespread and growing worse, contributing to heightened resource competition, conflict, and hunger.

Selected Effects of Climate Change on Africa


Selected Effects of Climate Change on Africa

November 17, 2016

Africa is more vulnerable to climate change than any other region on the planet. Research has found that climate change is as a threat multiplier, exacerbating existing issues such as political instability, poverty, and unemployment. Conversely, state fragility and poor governance are two of the principle circumstances that cripple communities’ ability to adapt to climate change. Meanwhile, Africa’s population is growing rapidly. This map reflects a few of the ways that climate change the changing environment is straining Africa’s social systems.