| Willy Brandt School of Public Policy

Preventing Hot Conflicts: Human Security in Times of Climate Change

On May 31, the Brandt School welcomed Svenja Schulze, German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, for the 2024 Brandt Lecture.

Every year, the Brandt School welcomes a distinguished guest for the annual Brandt Lecture, which pays tribute to Willy Brandt, the School’s namesake. The Brandt Lecture aims to reflect on big picture issues and current events. Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Svenja Schulze gave this year’s lecture, focused on human security in times of climate change.

“Climate change is a threat to human security”

In her lecture, Minister Schulze mentioned a warning given by Willy Brandt in the North-South Report over 40 years ago, about the need for increased international cooperation when it comes to issues such as the environment and climate. Minister Schulze reemphasized this, stating that the international community needs ambitious climate policy, and that this is also a question of social justice and peace policy, as climate change is posing the biggest threat to those around the world who are least responsible for it.

Minister Schulze stated that many wealthy countries have promised to act in solidarity but cautioned that this must be done in a socially just way, where the switch to green benefits everyone. German development policy, the Minister stated, supports a just transition and looks to international partnerships to help people adapt, preventing conflicts over scarce resources.

“Socially just climate policy is also peace policy”

At this point, the Minister stressed that “socially just climate policy is also peace policy” because climate change is bringing global uncertainty, and, as Willy Brandt warned in the 1980’s, there exists a relationship between environment and security. When people are vulnerable, conflicts and issues arise.

“Climate policy, to be successful, needs more global cooperation”

Minister Schulze highlighted the need for Germany and other developed countries who bear responsibility for climate change to deliver on the goals of the Paris Agreement and strive for global cooperation, a necessity for successful climate policy. The current climate finance gap is large, not only for mitigation measures but also for current issues vulnerable populations are facing. Last year alone, there were 250 billion US dollars in damages from severe weather worldwide. To fill this gap, the Minister mentioned her support for Brazil’s proposal of a ‘billionaires’ tax,’ a two percent tax on the world’s wealthiest people, who often have the largest ecological footprints.

At the end, Minister Schulze again emphasized the need for solidarity in foreign cooperation when it comes to climate policy and praised Willy Brandt’s idea of global governance. Her closing quoted the philosopher Karl Popper, stating that “optimism is a duty,” imploring everyone to continue working toward socially just climate policy.

Author: Lara Schüth, 2nd year MPP student


2024 Brandt Lecture

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