Did Climate Change Spark the Syrian Civil War?

Watch/Listen Again Thursday 27 April 2017 17:00 to 18:30
Fulton A, University of Sussex

Professor Jan Selby will deliver a Sussex Development Lecture to discuss claims that climate change was behind Syria's descent into war.

Man walks through Homs in Syria

Image credit: Homs, Syria, 2014 Xinhua/Pan Chaoyue/Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

For proponents of the view that anthropogenic climate change will become a ‘threat multiplier’ for instability in the decades ahead, the Syrian civil war - now entering its seventh year - has become a recurring reference point, providing apparently compelling evidence that such conflict effects are already with us. According to this view, human-induced climatic change lay behind an extreme pre-civil war drought in Syria; this drought in turn caused large-scale migration; and this migration exacerbated the socio-economic stresses that underpinned Syria’s descent into war.

This lecture will interrogate these claims and offer a counter-interpretation - one with important implications both for understanding the conflict and security implications of climate change, and for the politics of development more broadly. 

About the Speaker

Jan Selby is Professor of International Relations, and Director of the Sussex Centre for Conflict and Security Research (SCSR). His research focuses on peace processes; environmental security; the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; and International Relations theory.

Sussex Development Lectures

This event is part of the Spring 2017 series of Sussex Development Lectures co-organised by IDS, the School of Global Studies, SPRU and the Centre for International Education, all based at the University of Sussex. 

Listen again

Listen to the seminar below.


University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton, BN1 9RE