Ecological Threat Report

This is the third edition of the Ecological Threat Report (ETR), which analyses ecological threats in 228 independent states and territories. Produced by the Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP), the report covers over 3,638 sub-national administrative districts, or 99.99% of the world’s population, assessing threats relating to food risk, water risk, rapid population growth and natural disasters.

The research takes a multi-faceted, multi-dimensional approach by analysing risk at the national, administrative district and city levels, while also assessing these entities by ecological threats, societal resilience and levels of peace. To assist the international community in prioritising its focus, IEP has identified the countries, administrative districts and cities which have the most severe threats and lowest coping capabilities. These are the countries most likely to suffer from increased levels of ecological threat related conflict.

The Ecological Threat Report also looks at the future, with projections out to 2050.

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Key Findings from the Ecological Threat Report 2022

The main finding from the 2022 ETR is that without concerted international action, current levels of ecological degradation will substantially worsen, thereby intensifying a range of social challenges, including malnutrition, forced migration and illness. Current conflicts will escalate and multiply as a result, creating further global insecurity.

A nexus of interrelated challenges sustain and feed off each other. Systemic effects compound, ensnaring countries in conflict traps that are difficult to escape. This nexus is explored in the ETR, highlighting the significant impact of high population growth, ecological collapses, weak societal resilience and their relationship to conflict. These issues need to be addressed systemically.

Highlighting the gravity of the situation, 90% of the 20 least peaceful countries face at least one catastrophic ecological threat, while 80% have low societal resilience. Ten of the twelve countries with the highest ecological threat rating, in all four domains, currently suffer from conflict deaths, while 11 of these countries have moderate to high ratings for the intensity of the internal conflict.

Given the significant link between ecological fragility and conflict, addressing water availability, food security and high population growth in countries mired by conflict will improve prospects for lasting peace.

Highly resilient countries have the best ability to manage their natural resources while still catering for their socio-economic needs. Positive Peace is a proxy for socio-economic resilience and the attributes of Positive Peace allow for higher levels of adaptability. Resilience includes effective water management, efficient agricultural systems, and better disaster preparedness. No single country with a high level of Positive Peace has an extremely low ETR score, underscoring the relationship between ecological fragility, conflict and societal resilience.

On the other hand, 80% of the countries with the worst ETR scores are also among the world’s least resilient. This indicates that these nations may not be able to mitigate the impacts of their rapidly changing environment. The 30 countries facing the highest level of ecological threat are home to 1.26 billion people.

Closing thoughts

In summary, ecological threats will continue to create humanitarian emergencies and will likely increase without a sustained effort to reverse the current trend.

Ecological threats are becoming more pronounced and affecting more people than ever. Building resilience to these threats will increasingly become more important and will require substantial investment now and into the future.

Read the full 2022 Ecological Threat Report. 

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