© 2013 Elsevier Ltd. Policy agendas increasingly respond to the perceived security threats of climate change, not least via its effects on water. Yet, solid links between climate, water, conflict and security have seldom been substantiated empirically. Drawing from the conceptual framework and empirical results of the EC-funded research project CLICO ('Climate Change, Hydro-Conflict and Human Security') which is presented in this Special Issue, this opening article looks at the conditions that shape conflict and insecurity, with a focus on the role of adaptation policies. We find three main sources of human insecurity: first, democratic deficits, which are more influential than hydro-climatic stresses; second, mal-adaptations, i.e. adaptations that have adverse effects for the security of some groups; and third, structural violence, often related to economic and state development. There is a systemic contradiction insofar as the pursuit of adaptation through state-led economic growth projects ends up producing new insecurities for parts of the population. Adaptation to hydro-climatic change, therefore, is likely to be a contested and painful process. Research on security and climate change must move beyond narrow investigations of conflict and study the links between structural violence and human insecurity, in particular the conditions and processes that reduce the options available to deal with potential insecurities.
- Climate change
- Human security