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It’s time to take climate change seriously in conflict resolution, says International Crisis Group head

Conflict resolution is a skill sorely needed in the world right now. As president and CEO of global think-tank International Crisis Group (ICG), Comfort Ero has plenty of experience in the field.

Ero has spearheaded the conflict resolution non-profit since 2021, after stints working at the United Nations, and before that, at the ICG’s West Africa project. Born in England to Nigerian parents, she has lived and worked on the African continent, and been heavily involved in peacekeeping operations in Liberia.

One of the areas monitored by the ICG is the impact of the climate crisis as a destabilizing factor for Africa – especially for the Sahel region and the Horn of Africa – and the organization has pushed for leaders to consider mitigation strategies.

The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Ero: I wouldn’t say it’s an obstacle. It’s one of the key issues that we have to grapple with. Countries that are already affected by conflict and violence also have to deal with issues around drought and flooding. Whether it’s in the Horn of Africa writ large or the Sahel, one of the challenges that we face is how to manage competition over resourcing; how to deal with displacement caused by climatic shocks like drought and flood; and to deal with that in the context of violence and conflict and instability.

What should world leaders be doing more of in that case? 

We have to take (climate change) seriously. It is existential; it’s transnational. We’ve got to think not just about loss and damage, but we’ve got to think about how to support countries to deal with adaptation and resilience. Money is required not just to deal with loss and damage – and it’s great that that was put on the agenda – but we’ve got to think now about the capabilities and capacities for countries that are dealing with multiple challenges going forward.

What are you hoping to see as a result of this year’s Doha Forum?

To see more investment in diplomacy. To give diplomacy a chance rather than assuming that you can resolve a conflict through military confrontation. That there’s more listening, more understanding, and there’s more empathy on both sides in conflicts. As far as we can see at the International Crisis Group, the biggest challenge today is a crisis in peace-making – and right now I think we need to focus on giving peace a chance.

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