Climate change could impact more than 80% of the Indo-Pacific’s population by 2050, according to the United States Indo-Pacific Command’s (USINDOPACOM) Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance (CFE-DM). Worldwide, rising seas and coastal floods are expected to force more than 200 million people from their homes, with Blue Pacific nations among the worst hit.
Extreme heat and intensifying storms threaten livelihoods, health, critical infrastructure and defense installations in nations across the Indo-Pacific. Resulting migration, competition for resources, food insecurity and other climate consequences create complex security challenges.
The CFE-DM’s Climate Change Impacts (CCI) program aims to build capacity that allows the U.S., its Allies and Partners to enhance regional resilience and stability and support secure and prosperous lives as part of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific.
The CCI program facilitates a regional network of climate security experts and provides a means to exchange information and discuss plans and programs to respond to security impacts.
Collaboration is a pillar of the program’s efforts to better anticipate and counter climate change’s security implications, including through partner engagements.
“We talk with our Allies and Partners, we develop programs and initiatives, and we incorporate it in our own planning,” said Steve Frano, the CCI program manager.
In 2023, CFE-DM shared information on disaster management and climate impacts during talks between the Republic of Fiji Military Forces and U.S. forces; the Global Space and Technology Convention in Singapore; the Indo-Pacific Environmental Security Forum in Sri Lanka; and the United Nations climate talks, COP28, in Dubai. The center also hosted climate change conversations with delegations from the Malaysian Armed Forces, New Zealand Defence Force, Royal Thai Armed Forces, Sri Lankan Air Force and the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force.
International and regional frameworks guide the CCI program, including the Pacific Islands Forum’s 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent and its Boe Declaration Action Plan, which identifies climate change as the “single greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and wellbeing” of the Pacific population.
In cooperating to build regional capacity and resilience, the CCI program uses science-backed data and analysis and aims to inform decision-making to address climate change effects, including those that disproportionately affect women and girls.
The Indo-Pacific 2050 Climate Change Impact Analysis, conducted by the University of Hawaii-managed Pacific Disaster Center at CFE-DM’s request, provides insight on nations’ ability to withstand climate change-induced hazards, CFE-DM Director Joseph Martin wrote in the report’s introduction. The analysis also supported exercise Ho’okele Mua, Hawaiian for “navigating the future,” in which U.S. personnel considered how climate change should be incorporated in USINDOPACOM planning and how those decisions would affect investments, and Allies and Partners.
The CCI program supports integrating climate change impacts into defense and security exercises throughout the Indo-Pacific.