Addressing Geo-environmental Security Challenges in the Indian Ocean Region: Setting a Regional Agenda

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Executive Summary

  • The Indian Ocean region (IOR) is an epicentre for a range of natural hazards. These are increasingly being amplified by a range of climate change-related environmental security threats, many of which have potential strategic consequences.
  • This Insight explores some of the key geoenvironmental challenges faced by the region. It then uses three case studies to explore the complex interactions between environmental and conventional security threats. ◊ The UAE will head the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) from October 2019 to 2021. This Insight will explore ways in which the UAE can play an important regional leadership role by establishing a regional agenda to address geo-environmental challenges.

Potential initiatives could include:

  • Establishing an Indian Ocean Environmental Security Forum: The UAE could take the lead in sponsoring the establishment of an Indian Ocean Environmental Security Forum that brings together military and civilian agencies and nongovernmental organisation across the region. The objective of the forum would be to create shared understandings on environmental security threats and help establish habits of dialogue in mitigating these threats.
  • Enhanced regional coast guard cooperation: The UAE could join with like-minded partners to create arrangements for dialogue, cooperation and training among Indian Ocean coastguards. This could include ongoing arrangements for professional development of senior coast guard practitioners in the region.
  • Disaster Risk Reduction: The UAE could join with other key states to develop framework disaster management arrangements among key Indian Ocean states with significant capabilities in this area. Such an arrangement could focus on developing pre-existing coordination mechanisms for responding to disasters among the most capable states.
  • Research on fish stocks: The UAE could promote environmental risk assessments by IORA and other relevant agencies of all species of fish in the Indian Ocean, including studies on the potential impact of climate change on these fish stocks.

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