Cyclone Mocha Disaster in Myanmar a Wake-Up Call for ASEAN, World to Take Climate Security Seriously

Coming on the heels of a brutal heatwave in Southeast Asia is Cyclone Mocha, among the biggest in the region’s history. The storm has left a trail of destruction across Myanmar’s coastal Rakhine state.

But even as we mourn the humanitarian tragedy, we must come to grips with the fact that climate change is a security issue, with profound implications for war and peace. The way to deal with grave challenges such as climate security is to have an all-hands-on-deck approach regardless of geopolitical rivalries.

The Bay of Bengal region straddles South and Southeast Asia and is enormously vulnerable to climate change-fuelled natural hazards, particularly cyclones, floods, and sea level rise.

But the region’s pre-existing political fragility means that these hazards could potentially worsen social fault lines and enhance conflict. Such conflict can be induced through various pathways, such as hostile responses to migrants and refugees, widening of existing fault lines over scarce resources in communities, or states of emergency that may lead to harsh crackdowns and alienate citizens from their government.

Read the full piece in South China Morning Post.