Climate-related disasters pose dire threats to individuals and communities, often straining state capacity and forcing states to redirect resources to humanitarian response. In fragile contexts, disasters can strain social and political systems to the breaking point, increasing the risk of conflict or humanitarian crises. National militaries increasingly play a key role in areas struck by climate-related emergencies, working alongside civilian responders and often facing calls for increased involvement when civilian capacity is strained. As the frequency and severity of climate-related hazards continue to increase, more information is needed to assess current practices and potential future directions of civil-military cooperation in these emergencies.
This project examines the extent to which countries in NATO and globally have engaged their national militaries in responding to climate-related emergencies. In particular, it explores trends in these responses over time, the degree to which militaries have the resources and mechanisms to prepare for and respond to these emergencies, and the consequences for force readiness from participation in these types of operations.
To analyze national militaries’ involvement in climate-related emergencies, this project develops several novel analytical products. These include:
This project explores civil-military cooperation specifically in the context of climate-related disasters. It defines climate-related disasters as those in the climatological, hydrological, and meteorological disaster subgroups in the EM-DAT Disaster Classification System (CRED/UCLouvain 2023a), summarized in Table 1.
Table 1. Disaster types included in this study
|Glacial lake outburst flood
|Glacial lake outburst flood
|Forest fire, land fire, wildfire
|Coastal flood, flash flood, flood (general), ice jam flood, riverine flood
|Mass movement (wet)
|Avalanche (wet), landslide (wet), mudslide, rockfall (wet), sudden subsidence (wet)
|Rogue wave, seiche
|Cold wave, heat wave, severe winter conditions
|Blizzard/winter storm, derecho, extra-tropical storm, hail, lightning/thunderstorm, sand/dust storm, severe weather, storm (general), surge, tornado, tropical cyclone
Source: CRED/UCLouvain 2023a.
The project examines civil-military cooperation in climate-related disasters in both domestic and foreign operations.
DATASET ON MILITARY INVOLVEMENT
A central challenge to examining the extent and evolution of civil-military cooperation in climate-related disasters is the dearth of systematic data on military involvement in such disasters. No country we surveyed for inclusion in the project currently has a national dataset tracking such military operations. There is also no cross-national dataset systematically tracking such military operations.
This project creates the first cross-national dataset on military involvement in climate-related disasters that aims to provide comprehensive coverage for included countries. The dataset includes national military activities in both domestic and foreign civil protection related to climate-related disasters.
The dataset makes it possible to answer several research questions related to national militaries’ involvement in climate-related disasters—both for individual countries and comparatively across countries—including:
A central feature of this dataset is its use of national government data as the source for information on national militaries’ involvement in disaster responses. Importantly, we rely on country experts—most of whom are currently working in the country’s government or military—to identify these government data sources. The use of government data, vetted by country experts, provides a systematic process that advances our goals of producing comprehensive coverage within countries and comparable data across countries. The data sources for each country are detailed in the Data Sources section below.
We then use the EM-DAT Emergency Events Database (CRED/UCLouvain 2023b) to identify which military responses to disasters are specifically related to climate-related disasters. We include only those military responses related to climatological, hydrological, and meteorological disasters tracked by EM-DAT, as summarized in Table 1.
3.2 Dataset Structure
The dataset includes a range of information about the country responding to the disaster, the country receiving assistance, the disaster itself, and the response—for both domestic and foreign disaster operations. This dataset template conveys the fields and structure used to standardize this information for each included country.
COUNTRY AND IGO PROFILES ON CIVIL-MILITARY COOPERATION
This project creates country profiles on civil-military cooperation in climate-related disasters. These include selected NATO countries, as well as NATO partners and other countries globally with high climate security risks and/or high civil or military involvement in climate emergencies. Country profiles include an analysis of the quantitative data collected in the project’s new dataset, as well as details on each country’s legal, funding, and operational frameworks and related policies, procedures, or guidelines on military involvement in climate-related emergencies.
The project also creates profiles of international / intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) to explore these issues as they relate to international coordination mechanisms such as those organized by the EU, IFRC, NATO, and the UN. Country and IGO profiles will build on initial research conducted by the Foundation for Global Governance and Sustainability on the use of military resources in disasters (FOGGS 2021).
The country and IGO profiles answer several research questions to assess the nature, extent, and effectiveness of military involvement in climate-related emergencies and to identify good practices across a wide range of national contexts. Depending on the country context, the questions include:
Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED)/Université Catholique de Louvain (UC Louvain). 2023a. EM-DAT Documentation. Brussels: CRED/UC Louvain. Available at https://doc.emdat.be/docs/data-structure-and-content/disaster-classification-system.
Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED)/Université Catholique de Louvain (UCLouvain). 2023b. EM-DAT Emergency Events Database. Brussels: CRED/UCLouvain. Available at www.emdat.be.
Foundation for Global Governance and Sustainability (FOGGS). 2021. Use of Military Resources to Address Natural and Human-Made Disasters. Brussels: FOGGS. Available at https://www.foggs.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/M4CE-Background-Paper-Final.pdf.