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Director's Foreword – DECEMBER 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 (1) .

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.

(1)  NATO - NATO Climate Change and Security Action Plan, 14-Jun.-2021


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