Advisory letter 14: Climate change and securityMay 19, 2009 - nr.14
In future, the Dutch armed forces are likely to be deployed more frequently as a result
of climate change, particularly in response to climate-related natural disasters. Climate
change is a threat multiplier in crisis management operations. To illustrate this fact, this
advisory letter lists conflicts and causes of conflict in various parts of the world that
could be exacerbated by climate change. Climate change might even create an entirely
new geopolitical reality, as is already happening in the Arctic. This letter also notes that
climate change could also lead to more cooperation between states.
Referring back to the WRR report cited above, which advocates taking precautionary
measures in the face of uncertainty, the AIV would note that the Ministry of Defence
is already doing a great deal in this respect. It has guaranteed military capacity for
deployment in international missions and to support national civil authorities in
providing humanitarian emergency aid, both nationally and internationally. The armed
forces have an extensive toolbox available for these tasks, tools that can be deployed
flexibly, depending on the circumstances.
As we have said, whether this is enough in the context of the precautionary principle
applied by the WRR depends in part on the future political debate on this matter, and on
political decision-making on the future of the armed forces, of which the current defence
policy review forms part. This advisory letter, issued at the request of the Ministry of
Defence, is one of the many building blocks which the Ministry will use to construct
future scenarios and define armed forces profiles, producing policy options for the
political debate on the future of the armed forces.
Irrespective of the policy margins that will emerge from this process, the AIV does not
currently have the objective information to allow it with reasonable certainty to quantify
the implications for personnel and equipment, or to give a geographical specification,
of the possible demands for extra military deployment as a result of climate change.
Furthermore, the impact of climate change is never exclusively a defence issue. In
situations where climate impacts on security, the deployment of the armed forces will
be part of a much broader approach that will require close national and international
The AIV would however advise the Ministry of Defence to ensure that the MIVD works
with the AIVD – in so far as it is not already doing so – in permanently focusing more
attention on the implications of climate change for national and international security, in
the context of early warning.
Finally, the AIV would highlight the fact that the armed forces are first and foremost the
State’s instrument of force, intended for use in military operations. At the same time,
however, the Ministry of Defence must leave sufficient scope for its capabilities to be
made available to support the civil authorities as much as possible in upholding the
law, disaster response and humanitarian relief operations. This is, after all, also a core
task of the armed forces, which have many dual-use assets at their disposal and can be
rapidly deployed. This underlines the multiple interests served by the process, already
embarked upon, of creating a more expeditionary force.
Ministry of Defence
General Policy Affairs
To Mr. F. Korthals Altes
Chairman of the Advisory Council on
2500 EB Den Haag
Date 10 juli 2008
Our reference HDAB2008018526
Re Climate and security
Dear Mr Korthals Altes,
Following on from the request for advice on climate change, energy and poverty reduction sent by the Minister for Development Cooperation on 15 March, I would like to request an advisory report from the Advisory Council on International Affairs on the expected effects of climate change on the international security situation over the next 20 years. Climate change will come to play an important role as we look ahead to the future of the armed forces (see Parliamentary Papers, House of Representatives 2007-2008, 31 243, no. 6).
Specifically, the government would like to hear the
What effect is climate change expected to have on the international security situation over the next two decades? To what extent will we have to deal with floods, droughts, new border disputes, geopolitical changes, shifting maritime transport routes, increased migration flows and restricted access to natural resources?
What implications will these changes have for the role played by the Dutch armed forces as they are called upon to respond to international humanitarian emergencies and possible conflict situations?
The government would appreciate receiving the report by January 2009, so that the
I am looking forward to receiving your advisory report.
Minister of Defence
Eimert van Middelkoop