EGU21-101, updated on 22 Apr 2021
EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Projecting conflict risk following the Shared Socioeconomic pathways: what role for water stress and climate?

Sophie de Bruin1, Jannis Hoch1, Nina von Uexkull3, Halvard Buhaug4, and Nico Wanders1
Sophie de Bruin et al.
  • 1Utrecht, Faculty of Geosciences, Physical Geography , Netherlands (
  • 3Stockholm University, Sweden
  • 4Peace Research Institute Oslo, Norway

The socioeconomic impacts of changes in climate-related and hydrology-related factors are increasingly acknowledged to affect the on-set of violent conflict. Full consensus upon the general mechanisms linking these factors with conflict is, however, still limited. The absence of full understanding of the non-linearities between all components and the lack of sufficient data make it therefore hard to address violent conflict risk on the long-term. 

Although it is neither desirable nor feasible to make exact predictions, projections are a viable means to provide insights into potential future conflict risks and uncertainties thereof. Hence, making different projections is a legitimate way to deal with and understand these uncertainties, since the construction of diverse scenarios delivers insights into possible realizations of the future.  

Through machine learning techniques, we (re)assess the major drivers of conflict for the current situation in Africa, which are then applied to project the regions-at-risk following different scenarios. The model shows to accurately reproduce observed historic patterns leading to a high ROC score of 0.91. We show that socio-economic factors are most dominant when projecting conflicts over the African continent. The projections show that there is an overall reduction in conflict risk as a result of increased economic welfare that offsets the adverse impacts of climate change and hydrologic variables. It must be noted, however, that these projections are based on current relations. In case the relations of drivers and conflict change in the future, the resulting regions-at-risk may change too.   By identifying the most prominent drivers, conflict risk mitigation measures can be tuned more accurately to reduce the direct and indirect consequences of climate change on the population in Africa. As new and improved data becomes available, the model can be updated for more robust projections of conflict risk in Africa under climate change.

How to cite: de Bruin, S., Hoch, J., von Uexkull, N., Buhaug, H., and Wanders, N.: Projecting conflict risk following the Shared Socioeconomic pathways: what role for water stress and climate?, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-101,, 2020.

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