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Global Security Challenges

Security sectors across the world are increasingly faced with global challenges such as migration, health crises, digitalization and cyber threats, climate change, or organized crime. These issues not only transcend borders, but also require states and societies to think innovatively on governance responses to these challenges.

To that end, DCAF seeks to assist partners by developing a dedicated knowledge base, along with operational and training programmes, aimed at identifying the challenges these threats represent to the governance of security institutions and improving the resilience of democratically controlled security sectors. 


U.S. Marines unload food and supplies in Pano Aqil, Pakistan. Photo:U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jason Bushong



As migration flows continue to increase, often in particularly dramatic circumstances, so does the importance of reflecting on the security sector’s management of these movements of peoples. Moving from the well-established state function of border control and regulating admission to national territory, to the more modern aspect of capacity-building in states with strong outward migration dynamics, SSG/R has a critical role to play in ensuring the respect of human rights, the security of states and populations, and ultimately in saving lives.

Building upon DCAF’s field engagement, particularly in Southeast Europe, we are working on various knowledge products which highlight the wide security implications of migration, with the aim to develop best practices for security sectors in facing this challenge. 

Unpacking and streamlining the evident nexus between migration and SSG will be crucial to establish effective international migration governance in a safe and orderly way, notably by realising the objectives and commitments affirmed in the Global Compact for Migration (2018), the Global Compact for Refugees (2018), and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.




Over the past decades, academic and policy research has sought to link modifications in climate conditions with direct and indirect threats to security. Examples of these include redistribution of natural resources, agricultural crises, and degradation of air conditions, all of which may in turn aggravate existing socio-economic inequalities.

With climate change now firmly integrated into various domestic and international policy agendas, the conceptualization of climate change as an “effect multiplier” and an autonomous “security threat” has begun to take root. There is an emerging policy and scholarly assessment that climate change risks may have spillovers on international, state, and human security.

In this vein, DCAF and UNOG convened a high-level joint seminar that discussed the impact of climate change on global and local security governance, and more specifically the experiences of local security sectors in dealing with climate change challenges on the ground. 

This project will continue to generate in-depth knowledge and on the nexus between climate change and the security sector, by means of desk research and dialogue with experts and practitioners.

It is funded by DCAF Core funding. 

Knowledge products 
Events and outreach activities 
  • Panel “Building Peace through Cooperative, Inclusive, and Sustainable ‘Climate-security’ practices”, within the Second Conference on Environmental Peacebuilding conference organized by the Geneva Peace Platform – conceptualization, panel role, participation (2 February 2022, Geneva).   
  • High-level workshop “Climate, Peace and Security: How to operationalize principles on environmental peacebuilding” convened by various European foreign affairs ministries – panel role, participation (9-10 December 2021, Sevilla). 
  • “Strategies for Climate Security” workshop convened by the Swiss FDFA – participation (6 October 2021, Geneva). 
  • Joint webinar UNOG-DCAF “The Impact of Climate Change on Global and Local Security Governance: learning from Local Experiences of the Security Sector” – conceptualization, organization, panel role (10 December 2020).
  • Climate Security and Good Security Sector Governance in Southeast Asia”, workshop organized by DCAF - conceptualization, organization, panel role (October 12-14, 2021) 
  • Climate Change and Security Sector Governance in East Asia”, workshop organized by DCAF, conceptualization, organization, panel role (November 16-18, 2021)


This programme aims at better understanding the roles that security forces can play in combating global health crises. The world has witnessed several health crises, including SARS, the Ebola outbreak and, most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic. In these contexts, many security actors have been tasked with responsibilities not normally under the aegis of their role despite the lack of specific training, and many oversight institutions face difficulties in ensuring accountability. In addition, concerns have also been raised during these crises about the rights of the security providers themselves, with many questions remaining in relation to the state of preparedness of these institutions as to proper structures and adequate equipment. 

DCAF has been supporting research and policy dialogues to identify and address some of the aforementioned concerns. Additional efforts to assess the engagement of the security sector in the prevention and management of global health crises are currently being led by Albrecht Schnabel. Learn more about our research activities in Asia-Pacific

Publications and further reading










National security sectors and multilateral security insti...

Not traditionally considered a security issue, climate ch...

This paper argues that there is a need to improve linkage...

Climate change presents a major threat not only to sustai...


Dr. Maria-Gabriela Manea, Programme Manager, Policy and Research Division (

Ioan Nicolau, Research Assistant, Policy and Research Division (