Climate Change: A Threat Multiplier?

A Symposium on Climate Change Impacts on National Security

The Centre for National Security Studies (CNSS) hosted a symposium exploring Climate Change and its Impacts on National Security on 12 and 13 February 2018 (detailed schedule). The aim of the symposium was to leverage research and discussion within public, private, and academic circles to consider how climate change can affect national security, and how we might plan and prepare for these challenges.

The first day of the symposium featured a keynote address by Mr Stephen Rigby, which focused on establishing a baseline appreciation of National Security from the perspective of a previous National Security Advisor. Also, Ms Cleo Paskal provided a keynote address which provided an academic overview of the nexus between Climate Change and National Security. [Link] Together, their remarks prepared participants to engage fully in the dynamic activities that followed. This symposium’s innovative approach to exploring this complex topic was facilitated by a brief overview of design thinking, and a team of facilitators enabling collaborative activities.

The afternoon began with a panel discussion moderated by Dr Blair Feltmate, who provided opening remarks and facilitated a lively discussion. The first panelist, Ms Shiloh Fetzek, focused on “Adaptation: Societal Change and Social Innovation,” [Link] followed by Dr Simon Dalby, who focused on “Climate Change Impacts on Human Security,” [Link] and finally Mr Alex Kaplan, who focused on “Climate Forecasts.” [Link] The afternoon also saw participants move to breakout rooms to leverage design thinking and reflexive practices, and to collaborate to find emergent questions for the panel when the symposium reconvened in plenary. After an engaging first day, participants deliberately shifted gears and enjoyed a presentation by artist Gertrude Kearns, [Link] whose works, “The Art of Command,” are displayed at the Canadian Forces College.

Day Two of the symposium was focused on the following workshops:

  • The Green Military: Defence Energy and Environment Strategy [Link]
    • Mr Saleem Sattar, Director General Environment and Sustainable Management, Department of National Defence
  • Climate Change and Global Security Implications for Canada [Link]
    • Brigadier-General Mike Nixon, Commander Joint Task Force — North, Canadian Armed Forces
  • Environmental Factors and Force Development [Link]
    • Colonel Denis Boucher, Director Capability Integration, Canadian Armed Forces

After the workshop, discussion leaders provided an overview of their respective topics in plenary, with the participants having moved to their chosen workshop breakout room. The workshop leads, with the assistance of the team of design facilitators, were then able to utilize the cross-functional team formed by the symposium participants to explore the issue(s) at hand. During this collaborative learning activity, the individual workshops also capitalized on opportunities to share with the other workshops what had been learned. This dynamic activity concluded with closing remarks from workshop leaders highlighting the progress made during the afternoon activities.

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