Beyond scares and tales: climate‐proofing Dutch foreign policy


Auteur(s): Louise van Schaik, Eva Maas, Rosa Dinnissen, Joost Vos
Instantie: Clingendael Bekijk Download

The consequences of climate change are typically treated as a local national affair or as a spe- cific challenge for developing countries lacking the resources to respond adequately. However, climate change impacts in other parts of the world may also affect a country like the Nether- lands, since it may lead to local physical, economic and political instability with consequences inter alia for international development, trade and investment. This study analyses whether Dutch foreign policies in the fields of development cooperation, foreign economic relations and security are climate-proof. Climate change is not presented as a foreign policy scare, but rather as a factor in relation to which some policies might need adjustments or out of which new opportunities may arise. Where relevant, a brief analysis of EU policies is added, since many of the Dutch policies in the chosen fields are so closely intertwined with them. Through- out the report specific attention is paid to water and food security, which are key sectors both for climate adaptation and for Dutch aid and trade policies. Possible effects for other sectors (e.g. health), the diplomatic infrastructure and the positioning of the Netherlands and the EU within multilateral forums are not incorporated into the analysis.
The analysis reveals a greater degree of awareness of climate change in the realm of develop- ment and – to a lesser extent – in the realm of security. The possible effects of climate change on trade policies have not received much consideration yet, whereas a true integration of climate change into security policies is still very much work in progress if compared to devel- opment, where there has been much more integration. Because food and water are two of
the four spearheads of Dutch development cooperation, and the link with climate adaptation needs in these two sectors is frequently obvious, climate change is often implicitly taken into account in development projects. However, more could be done to make climate impacts more explicit and to increase the level of funding for achieving climate adaptation objectives. This would enable the Netherlands to highlight its contribution to the global adaptation challenge, as well as in relation to the international climate negotiations, which are accelerating towards the crucial summit in Paris at the end of 2015. It could also bring into sharper relief the oppor- tunities for the Dutch food and water sectors to deal with the climate adaptation challenge.
In the field of development cooperation the 15 development partner countries selected by the Netherlands are all very vulnerable to climate change. Since 2013, climate impacts are more explicitly taken into consideration, particularly in the funding dedicated to food and water. Dutch support to, for instance, water infrastructural projects clearly contributes posi- tively to climate resilience, but still more could be done to ensure that climate change – and strengthening resilience to cope with it – is a top priority in the choice of projects and their implementation. Despite increased focus on the international consequences of climate change, the Dutch pledge to the Green Climate Fund of 100 million Euros was low in comparison to other (EU) donors (e.g. France and Germany each pledged 1 billion Euros). Nevertheless,
the overall contribution of the Netherlands to climate adaptation, according to Development Assistance Committee (DAC) criteria, compares well to that of other donors.
In the realm of foreign economic relations it is striking how little information is available on how climate change might impact trade and investment flows, at both national and EU levels. For instance, little insight is available into the climate vulnerability of raw materials the Netherlands imports (and usually re-exports), whereas the relationship between climate change and food security is increasingly signalled as point of concern, for instance in the latest IPCC report and arguments in favour of setting up the Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture. It seems to be taken for granted that, due to the openness of the Dutch (and European) economy and its capacity to innovate, a shift towards alternatives will be made when needed. More research, notably stress tests, needs to be undertaken on how climate change affects countries and sectors of high economic value to the Netherlands, for instance in the context of the Dutch top-sectors approach or EU-funded research.
In the field of international security climate change is widely recognised as a threat mul- tiplier, underlining its aggravating effects on other conflict risk factors such as tensions over natural resources. However, climate insights are not yet well integrated into mainstream security policies, such as political strategies and military planning and material. Scares about water wars and climate migrants appear exaggerated, above all to draw attention to the need to act on climate change mitigation, but they cannot be ruled out in a longer-term perspective when high temperature scenarios become a reality. Therefore, it is to be welcomed that the most recent update (in autumn 2014) of the Netherlands international security analysis does place more emphasis on the need to integrate resource risks and climate impacts into early warning mechanisms. Demands for humanitarian aid and disaster risk reduction are most likely to increase in a more immediate timeframe as a result of climate change and will thereby increasingly compete with the funding for structural development cooperation.
Of particular concern is the Arctic region, where melting of the ice is increasing geopolitical tensions over the ownership of new shipping routes and minerals that become more accessi- ble. In particular, tensions between Russia and NATO members pose a threat to international security and may involve the Netherlands. If escalation of these tensions can be prevented, the region provides many opportunities for the Netherlands. The Port of Rotterdam would have a much shorter transport lane to Asia, at least in the summer months. Also, Dutch companies
in the energy and extractive industry sector already have relevant experience of extracting energy in a difficult territory, making them well placed to secure projects in the Arctic.
In preparation for updating the National Adaptation Strategy, on the basis of this research
it can be concluded that carrying out a stress test on the climate vulnerability of natural resources (including food products) would be advisable. It would also be desirable to consider what a possible increase in migrants due to climate change might imply for the number of refugees and asylum seekers. In terms of finance, pressure is likely to mount for humanitarian assistance and climate-related ODA. In preparation and planning for military missions, climate change impacts should be taken into account, and efforts should be stepped up to integrate the issue into early-warning and risks analysis.
The Dutch and EU position for the international climate change talks and the debate on climate finance is likely to evolve further after the UN Climate Summit in Paris at the end of 2015. For example, more could be done to acknowledge the global effects of climate change, even if serious mitigation efforts had been made, since even in a serious mitigation scenario adaptation needs will still increase. Acknowledging more strongly this viewpoint may enhance trust in the EU on the part of developing countries who are most vulnerable to climate change. Moreover, this report clearly illustrates the relevance of incorporating climate change into development cooperation and security policies, and points to the need to further analyse
the likely impact on trade and investment. More awareness of these topics is warranted as
the government attempts to secure continued public support for adaptation-related climate finance. In turn, a higher overall level of climate finance and a larger share of it being dedi- cated to adaptation could provide additional opportunities for the Dutch agro-food, horticul- ture and water sectors.

Instantie Clingendael
Auteur Louise van Schaik, Eva Maas, Rosa Dinnissen, Joost Vos
Soort instantie Onderzoeksinstituut
Datum 2015
Trefwoorden Beleid, Fysieke veiligheid, Internationaal, Klimaatadaptatie, Klimaatverandering, Politiek, Risico(management)

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