National Security and the Impacts of Climate Change


July 2021


Jane Holloway, Senior Systems Scientist | Strategy, Systems and Synthesis | Strategy and Joint Force Joint and Operations Analysis Division – DST Group,
Prof Joanne Wallis , Prof International Security – The University of Adelaide
Dr Belinda Chiera, Deputy Director, UniSA Industrial AI Research Centre – University of South Australia

Facilitated by:

Dr Peter Tangney, CASPR, Flinders University
Assoc Prof Cassandra Star, CASPR, Flinders University

“…Australia will struggle to maintain its national security in the face of climate change unless government departments and agencies are well coordinated and can work collaboratively with neighbouring countries in the Indo-Pacific region. Effective coordination and collaboration will be needed to respond to the kind of threats climate change poses to Australia’s sovereign borders and territories, and to our existing national security provisions.” (‘Defence-funded study outlines climate risk to national security’, ADM, 23 April 2020)

Climate change has been linked to extreme weather events, movement of climate refugees, increases in transmission of infectious diseases, and food and water insecurity. These destabilising events could have major impacts on Australia’s national security, and coordination and collaboration between researchers, government agencies and industry will be required to meaningfully address these impacts.

Flinders University’s Climate and Sustainability Policy Research Group (CASPR) facilitated a discussion highlighting issues of collaboration, cooperation, integration and communication.

Questions covered included:

  • What might be the key characteristics of an effective Whole-of-Government approach to climate adaptation and security?
  • What additional resources, or reorientation of resources would be needed for an effective nationally coordinated climate adaptation and security strategy?
  • Which international partners should Australian Government seek to cooperate with to enhance climate resilience for national security?

The aim of this event was to enable creative collisions of researchers and practitioners from different disciplines, with the hope of fostering a community of interest that can continue building on the ideas discussed on the night.