Civil-Military Collaboration to Address Adaptation to Climate Change in South America

Type: Article


"The economic vitality of the South American region is threatened by the effects of climate change. Climate change often exacerbates existing environmental crises such as drought, water scarcity and soil degradation, intensify land use conflicts (especially in the Andean and Amazon Regions) and trigger environmentally induced migration. Glaciers are retreating and natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes are becoming more frequent and severe, exacting a heavy toll on the population and the economic infrastructure of the region. Successful adaptation measures may require multilateral cooperation to preempt these destabilizing affects before they impact on government legitimacy and threaten regional security. While civilian agencies will normally be the lead for proactively addressing climate change adaptation, they may be insufficient, or absent in distant frontier and border areas where only the military is present. In efforts to address these regional concerns, the U.S. Southern Command co-hosted two climate change-related events in South America. The first one in Colombia was focused on climate change adaptation, and the second in Peru, was focused on low carbon sustainable economies, both events emphasizing civil-military collaboration on the issues".

The article examines the impact of climate change on South America's stability and economy, emphasizing the need for collaboration between civilian agencies and the military. It
stresses the region's vulnerability to environmental crises like droughts, floods, and land conflicts, necessitating proactive measures to prevent destabilization. Events hosted by the U.S. Southern Command in Colombia and Peru focused on climate change adaptation and sustainable economies. Discussions in Colombia emphasized armed forces' roles in risk assessment and disaster response, resulting in an ''Action Plan'' for national and international collaboration. The Peru conference highlighted the region's susceptibility to natural disasters and urged a unified approach. 

The paper concludes by advocating for integrating climate change adaptation into security strategies and fostering cooperation between the military, local institutions, and regional bodies. It sees the U.S. military's involvement in environmental security initiatives as a positive step toward addressing climate challenges in South America.

Authors: Marcela Ramirez and Dr. Kent Butts

Published in: CSL Issue Papers, Vol. 5; March 2011

Publisher: Center for Strategic Leadership, U.S. Army War College

Publication Date: 03 March 2011

Pages: 4

Publication Page:

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TOPICS / Subjects:

  • Adaptation
  • Mitigation
  • Capacity Building
  • Disaster Training
  • Civil Military Cooperation
  • National Security
  • International Security

Other Key Words: South America