IPCS Regional Workshop on Climate Security in the Bay of Bengal
On 15-17 December 2022, the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) convened a
Regional Workshop on Climate Security in the Bay of Bengal, in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
The track 1.5 workshop bookended IPCS’ 2022 activities in our multi-year project with the
Clingendael Institute on the security implications of climate change in Southern Asia.
Our workshop focused on the Bay of Bengal because the sub-region is a site of both climate and ecological vulnerabilities. It is also an area of geopolitical contestation framed within the Indo-Pacific narrative. How these two developments interact however is still marginal to both security and climate change discourses. IPCS’ research and programming since 2021 has sought to address this gap by producing regional knowledge on climate security.
We invited multidisciplinary participation from scholars and practitioners representing the core Bay of Bengal countries. Over three days, security and climate change experts:
• Tested the analytical utility of climate security
• Explored decision-making enablers and constraints
• Identified potential avenues for transnational climate security collaboration
• Produced regional knowledge on the security implications of climate change.
A majority of the workshop’s participants were able to authoritatively speak to either climate change or security issues, but not both together. A traditional conference format would have therefore been inadequate. We designed our conversations around national security and climate change priorities; a simulation exercise to experiment with national and regional decision-making; and working groups to develop and evaluate regional frameworks. The working groups comprised mixed nationalities and expertise. Participants were offered the opportunity to be in the driver’s seat, whether by moderating sessions or proposing agenda amendments. Each session was conceived to inform the next, with the overriding goal of de-siloing our understanding of climate security. This report distils the workshop’s main observations.