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Home  /  Our Network  /  Network news  /  NSD-S Hub Director's tri-monthly address

Director's Foreword - Dec 2021

As 2021 draws to a close, this last newsletter of the year offers a moment to both reflect and look forward. Over the past 12 months, we have worked with a diverse set of actors on various themes. When looking into 2022, a theme that stands out for me is the ramifications of climate change. It is a good example of the type of work we do, assessing the dynamics in the NSD-S Hub's Area of Interest, and identifying current and future challenges and opportunities that influence security and stability.

Climate change has been on the NATO radar for many years; it featured in the 2010 Strategic Concept, and climate-related issues have been regularly highlighted in Summit Communiqués since Lisbon 2010 .

The impact of climate change in Africa and the Middle East is complex and its aspects are highly intertwined. It can have devastating effects on the region, especially in terms of extreme weather, drought and access to water. This changing natural environment can cause famine and floods, and the destruction of lands and livelihoods. In particular, women and girls, and poorer, more marginalized and vulnerable people are among the first to suffer the consequences. There are usually second and third-order effects which can increase state fragility, worsen conflicts, and lead to the many forms of migration. Combined, these factors tend to lead to conditions which can be exploited by state and non-state actors.

Fortunately, many countries are looking towards strategies to generate a stronger green economy. This in turn offers challenges and opportunities, especially to countries in the Middle East. Many Gulf countries are going through considerable domestic reforms which include efforts to create more diversified, greener economies, becoming less dependent on hydrocarbons, and moving towards more digitalized governments and societies. Despite the Gulf States' continued dependency on oil and gas exports, the need to transition to renewable energy production is ever more evident.

The growth in green technologies will rely heavily on a few critical metals, including copper, lithium, nickel, cobalt and the group referred to as rare earth metals. Unfortunately, the supply of these minerals is limited. The African continent possesses the world's largest reserves of many elements, with the result that competition for Africa's natural resources is evolving. This domain is wrought with dangers, with foreign influencers as well as regional Non-State Armed Groups becoming increasingly involved, all of which adds to the risk of further destabilization.

On this broad, highly complex topic of climate change there are no easy solutions. However, NATO and the Hub remains committed to increasing understanding, participation and the facilitation of dialogue between NATO and regional actors. Climate change is an opportunity to increase the collaboration with our regional partners, we are all involved: common effort for a global challenge

I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every person and organization that has contributed to our work in 2021. Collaboration and cooperation, we have learned, is the key to progress, and it is our hope that our efforts will be a part of the successful outcomes we are sure will be achieved.

I wish you all a happy holiday period and I look forward to continue working with you in 2022.


 Gen Davide Re


NATO summit meetings provide periodic opportunities for Heads of State and Governments of member Countries to evaluate and provide strategic direction for Alliance activities. Since 1949, there have been 29 NATO summits, which have marked the milestones achieved and set targets for the future.

For instance, at the the Wales Summit in 2014, NATO recognized that the security of the Alliance was closely linked to the stability of our neighbours, resulting in the birth of "The Framework for the South". Subsequently, at the Warsaw Summit in 2016, the Alliance saw fit to create the NSD-S HUB, which was established in Naples and has been fully operational since 2018.

The Summit in Brussels last June was no less important for NATO. The Alliance identified and addressed the challenges facing us today as well as those on the horizon. "NATO 2030: A transatlantic agenda for the future" is a concrete demonstration of NATO's ambitions for the coming years. Integral to this Agenda is NATO's commitment to our neighbours in the South, with the principle of mutual dependence strongly re-affirmed.

In particular, the NATO 2030 Agenda confirms the ambition to continue interaction also to provide assistance to bolster Peace and Security by building Partner capacity in the Southern Regions, across domains such as: fight against terrorism in a wide spectrum of activities, stabilisation, counter-hybrid activities, crisis management, peacekeeping and defence reform. Continued cooperation with the African Union (AU) was specifically highlighted as being of key importance.

I'm proud to say that the HUB has been working diligently towards converting these ambitions into tangible results. This newsletter contains, among other things, two publications which are the result of our continued collaborations with AU entities such as: the African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism (ACSRT), the primary AU centre of excellence for the analysis of terrorism related information and counter-terrorism capacity; the Committee of Intelligence & Security Service of Africa (CISSA), which assists the AU and all its institutions to effectively address the seemingly intractable security challenges confronting Africa; and the African Police Cooperation Organisation (AFRIPOL), the independent mechanism for police cooperation on the continent.

The immeasurable added value obtained from constant collaboration between the Hub and entities in the South, in which information, knowledge and perspectives are openly discussed, leads to greater shared understanding where all parties involved are presented with different perspectives, a chance to see things through an alternative lens. Consequently, we are building a network together, a network which keeps us closer and more easily available, thereby assisting cooperation between members to face the challenges and opportunities which confront us all, especially in times of need. It is, after all, so much easier to just pick up a telephone and call someone when a bond of trust and confidence has been developed.

Future generations are a key factor in NATO's changing strategic environment, not only as a current social and demographic force of great influence but also as a source of inspiration to guide us towards making the best of such an opportunity.

DIRECTOR's Foreword APRIL 2021 

NATO 2030 anticipates NATO's alignment with the fundamentally changing strategic environment. This initiative includes the NATO Secretary General engaging with young leaders and asking them to provide fresh thinking on how to further strengthen the Alliance in order to better achieve the NATO 2030 priorities.

The report these young leaders released, entitled "Embrace the change, guard the values" is aimed at providing ambitious 'moon shot' ideas for the future of the Alliance, focusing on a range of key issues that are of great relevance to the HUB.

The report states the importance of NATO's ability to "broaden and reconceptualize security to more accurately account for the evolving threats", while maintaining NATO's traditional posture. It underlines the inter-connectedness of security challenges and leans towards "recommendations that reflect a more comprehensive, holistic, and inclusive understanding of security towards the 2030s". The young leaders argue that non-traditional security challenges should be placed more prominently on NATO's agenda and look beyond hard-power alone to respond to todays and tomorrow's challenges.

I believe these NATO young leaders can help us better interpret and appreciate the challenge of the Youth Bulge in the South. By 2050, the population of Africa is expected to double. The challenge is how to ensure that this increasing societal element can be directed towards becoming a positive demographic dividend.

The youth need access to good education, opportunities for jobs, social and economic inclusion and political participation. Recognizing their potential to contribute to stability and cooperation is fundamental and calls for opportunities where their voices and ideas are heard. Increasing younger population participation in political processes will prevent the emergence of political violence and instability.

Instability and lack of prospects in the South could force more people to look for a better future elsewhere causing an irreplaceable loss of Human capital in their countries of origin, the so called "Brain drain" effect.

This newsletter includes the outcomes of the Hub's project on this topic, which looks at the Youth Bulge from three separate perspectives: Education and Employment in Sub-Saharan Africa; Empowerment and Radicalisation; and Migration and The Brain Drain. The three Youth Bulge reports are the products of our joint research and collaborations. They are produced with in cooperation /collaboration with partners from the South, which crucially includes their precious local and regional perspectives.

Within a broadened and re-conceptualized understanding of security, the Youth Bulge should be firmly on any international agenda, since it is a determining factor, in both the challenges and the solutions, also regarding the stability in the South. We intend our efforts and publications to support improved mutual understanding of these issues and to contribute towards ensuring the greatest positive use of such an opportunity.


Welcome to our first newsletter of 2021. As you can see, things have changed!

I sincerely hope this message finds you safe and healthy, and coping as well as can be expected. The first threshold of uncertainty caused by the COVID crisis has passed and we have cause for hope now that the new vaccines have been developed. Of course, we all know that it will be some time yet before we know the long-term impacts of the virus and the effects of the crisis. But there is light at the end of the tunnel and it allows us to focus a little more optimistically on our ambitions for 2021.

As stated in our mission: The unique role of the Hub is to connect allies, partners and international, non-governmental and civil organizations by creating frank and effective dialogue resulting in universal understanding, trust and stability. Although the COVID crisis has impinged upon these goals, we pushed through the steep learning curve of conducting activities online. We miss meeting in person. But necessity is the mother of inventions, and until we all get through this, we shall continue in this vein. This revamped newsletter is an example of our determination.

Although we have succeeded in keeping contact with our partners in the South, developing online engagements and continuing the sharing of knowledge, it is the Hub's biggest ambition for 2021 to reconnect and re-engage with our partners in person, whether in their surroundings or by invitation to visit us here at the Hub. Such connection allows us all to share our insights and identify lessons learned more directly, building them into our modus operandi, working together towards cooperative security.

This continuous contact has been instrumental in building up a chain of insights, improving our collective ability to see the bigger picture in a 360° manner. We are now able to go further; rather than focusing on individual events, we now have relationships which allow us to monitor trends. We will continue to elaborate the process of monitoring, analysing underlying causes and identifying opportunities for projecting greater stability together. As an example, we continue to monitor terrorism trends in the Sahel while also looking at its drivers, especially in combination with broader trends such as the youth unemployment, climate change, etc.

And so it will be that when, not if, this crisis ends, we will be ready and able to restart working together more closely. If this pandemic has shown us one positive thing, it is that we can still rely on each other, and this makes us even stronger together.