Climate, Peace and Security Fact Sheet: Democratic Republic of the Congo (2023)

By Dr Thor Olav Iversen, Ingvild Brodtkorb, Katongo Seyuba, Anne Funnemark, Kheira Tarif, Asha Ali , Dr Kyungmee Kim and Dr Minoo Koefoed, SIPRI, November 2023

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is faced with a confluence of climate change, environmental degradation, resource exploitation and conflict dynamics that is exacerbating insecurity in the country. The dual impact of climate change and the global green energy transition risks deepening divisions over resource management and fostering intercommunal conflict over resources such as land and water. Climate-related security risks threaten to undermine human security through increased livelihood and food insecurity and changing patterns of transhumance.

• The impacts of climate change on agriculture, including temperature rises and precipitation variability, are eroding productivity and leading to heightened food insecurity and vulnerability in the DRC.

• Armed and intercommunal conflict in the east of the DRC is a key driver of displacement, causing mass population movement and rendering local communities, refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The last five years have also seen a dramatic increase in the number of registered displacements caused by storms and floods.

• Climate change mitigation efforts and the sustainable management of forest resources are being impeded by ongoing conflict, corruption and instability in the country. Illegal activities by armed groups, such as illicit mining, logging and wildlife trading, are contributing to environmental degradation and biodiversity loss.

• The green energy transition is creating immense global demand for access to minerals such as copper, cobalt, lithium, manganese, rare earth elements and zinc. The operation of state and non-state armed groups in illegal mining and resource extraction is undermining natural resource governance, causing environmental damage and exacerbating communal tensions.

The DRC has been framed by President Félix Tshisekedi as a ‘solution country’ for climate change, providing essential inputs for green technologies and storing a large proportion of the world’s carbon dioxide in the Congo Basin. Yet the country is also characterized by deep and persistent conflict, particularly in its eastern regions. In order to mitigate climate-related security risks, the United Nations, international organizations, climate financiers, partner countries and the DRC authorities need to cohere through conflict-sensitive policies on mitigation and adaption and the green energy transition.


▶International partners and United Nations agencies should invest in strengthening knowledge of the links between climate change, environmental degradation and conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Environmental monitoring capabilities should be improved to better predict extreme weather events and forecast changing local climate patterns. Monitoring should also pay attention to the growing number of displacements due to natural disasters such as floods and storms, as well as to the changing patterns of transhumance.

▶The UN, climate financiers and relevant international actors should increase their support for climate adaptation in the DRC, particularly conflict-sensitive adaptation programmes that build resilience and target the root causes of vulnerability. To guide the adaptation support, the national adaptation plan and other relevant policy documents should integrate local climate-related security risks, emphasizing what conflict sensitivity means in the context of the DRC.

▶Governments and the private sector should ensure the ecologically sustainable and ethical extraction of resources. This could be done by promoting responsible sourcing and environmental, social and governance standards in the extractive sector, through introducing supply chain due diligence and novel value chain models, and supporting the formalization of the artisanal and small-scale mining sector. Such efforts should take the gendered dynamics of resource extraction into account.

▶The knowledge base and capacity for climate security in the DRC should be built up using a long-term perspective. To support this, the UN, international partners and the DRC government should establish climate security adviser roles that facilitate the assessment of climate-related risks, and design and implement policies to alleviate the security risks posed by climate change and environmental degradation in the country

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