On Canada’s NATO Climate Change and Security Centre of Excellence (COE)

The Conference of Defence Associations Institute would like to commend Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Minister Mélanie Joly, and Minster Anita Anand, on the creation of the NATO Climate Change and Security Centre of Excellence (CoE), announced on June 28th at the NATO Summit in Madrid, Spain. We agree with Minister Anand that this is great news for Canada, for NATO, and for Montreal.

As the conveners of the annual Montreal Climate Security Summit, we see the arrival of the CoE as a great opportunity to position Montreal as THE city where climate security talks will take place and where technological innovation and solutions-thinking will thrive for decades to come.

The NATO Climate Change and Security Centre of Excellence proposed jointly by Global Affairs Canada and the Department of National Defence in June of 2021, grew from the recognition that the effects of climate change pose security challenges both at home and abroad and that NATO has a clear role to play in addressing its implications. The COE will be hosted by Canada and will be a platform through which both military actors and civilians can develop, enhance, and share knowledge on climate change security impacts.

The importance of this initiative cannot be understated. As was discussed in the CDA Institute’s first annual Montreal Climate Security Summit in May 2022, climate change is a threat multiplier with the potential to drastically change the nature of the strategic environment in which NATO operates. Given the success of the inaugural Montreal Climate Security Summit, which featured speakers from NATO, the World Bank, the ICRC, the Australian Defence Force, NORAD, UN-IOM, Futures Indigenas Mexico, and many others, the Conference of Defence Associations Institute is committed to hosting it again in Fall 2023.

We look forward to working collaboratively and constructively with the COE on the Montreal Summit and by facilitating outreach and engagement within our network of scholars and experts in this field in order to foster international dialogue on this existential security issue.

The fact that NATO is an alliance of liberal democracies that share a fundamental set of values regarding human dignity and government by and for the people makes it a natural global leader to promote strategies to protect mankind from the harms of the climate catastrophe. Furthermore, given the 2% of GDP objective on defence spending that the alliance has set as a target for its members, there are great opportunities to leverage military innovation in creating carbon-neutral technologies in order to fast-track its civilian use and adoption.

Addressing climate change cannot be punted to future generations. It must be dealt with now to avoid the worst outcomes. This means deep, short-term carbon emission reductions, rather than lofty long-term targets. This COE will provide much impetus to green defence and create solutions. We are convinced it represents an important move in the right direction.





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