IN THE JOURNAL | POINT OF VIEW
Our changing environment and the fate of national defense
October-December 2017
By: Nicolas Regaud

During the third South Pacific Defense Ministers Meeting, which gathers Australia, Chile, Fiji, France, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Tonga, in Auckland on April 6, the ministers “welcomed the proposal by France to lead a coordinated study on climate change’s impact on defense cooperation in the South Pacific and the work of our armed forces. The results and recommendations of this coordinated study should be released during an international conference hosted by France prior to the 2019 ministers meeting.

In my view, such subregional defense initiatives for developing exchanges of experience and cooperation are very promising, and the right way to work in the future.

As the international community, and particularly France, was mobilized around the climate issue in the run-up to COP21, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian suggested an international conference gathering defense ministers and senior government officials from around the world to create a dynamic of dialogue and cooperation among defense institutions on climate change and its strategic implications. It took place in Paris in October 2015.

This conference marked a new stage, considering it was the first international meeting of its kind, with a large audience composed of 14 defense ministers and more than 600 representatives of defense institutions, national and international administrations and the academic, nonprofit and private sector communities. There were 36 delegations from around the world, including 15 government department representatives from the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

In a nutshell, three key ideas were put forward during this conference:

  • Encourage strategic research on climate change and cooperation among research centers associated with defense ministries.
  • Encourage subregional defense forums to launch studies on climate change implications for nations’ armed forces and for regional cooperation.
  • Support the continuation of high-level conferences to establish yearly meetings, including newly participating countries, coupled with the COP’s conferences. Participants recognized their importance in exchanging views and good practices at the political level, for promoting new ideas and encouraging international cooperation on an increasingly worrying global strategic challenge.

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