Science–policy dimensions of research on climate change and conflict

Katharine J. Mach, Caroline M. Kraan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


A large body of research now indicates that climate likely matters for conflict. This climate–conflict scholarship, however, has involved divergent findings, sometimes strident disagreement, and resulting limits to the usability of the scholarship for policymakers and practitioners. This viewpoint essay draws from recent expert assessments of climate–conflict linkages to position the research field among climate change research and assessment more broadly. We explore potential insights from the climate realm. As is often the case for climate change research, science–society dynamics are inherent in scholarship on climate and conflict. They contribute to contestation about the state of knowledge, the best ways to characterize it, and its implications for societal choices and investments. Our critique is grounded in the literature evaluating policy-relevant climate change assessment across diverse disciplines, from sea-level-rise adaptation science to energy-system modeling. Through comparisons with such fields, this perspective article considers several implications for climate–conflict knowledge production. We examine, in particular, the necessity of integrating diverse lines of evidence to understand the risks of responding to societally relevant uncertainties and priorities, and of encouraging interactions among researchers, practitioners, and policymakers. The experiences of other climate change disciplines can provide inspiration for potential directions for climate, conflict, and security scholarship. They include risk framings in integrating underlying evidence, through to options for supporting the interactions among researchers and societies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)168-176
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Peace Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • climate change
  • conflict
  • science-policy interactions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Safety Research
  • Political Science and International Relations


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