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The Global Transboundary Climate Risk Report

Research report

Written by Sarah Opitz-Stapleton

Image credit:Thousands Displaced by Floods and Conflict near Jowhar, Somalia. Image license:UN Photo/Tobin Jones (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From flooding in Bangkok that disrupts global industrial production, to the spread of diseases that hold back economies, transboundary climate risks are an immediate threat to our collective wellbeing - and hinder the prospects of achieving global goals on climate adaptation.

As their name suggests, transboundary climate risks do not respect national or international borders. They are being triggered by climate change and by our adaptation responses to that challenge. A climate hazard in one country may well have an impact that crosses national borders to affect its neighbours. In our interconnected world, however, its impact may also jump across entire regions and vast oceans to harm distant countries.

Transboundary climate risks also include those transmitted by adaptation responses. While these responses can have positive results across borders and deliver shared benefits, they can also redistribute or even increase (rather than reduce) the risks, by shifting them to other countries, sectors and communities. This happens, for example, when countries impose export bans to protect domestic markets from food price shocks, which can turn a local shock into a global food crisis. 

This report by Adaptation Without Borders is the first collection of evidence on - largely unrecognised - risks that undermine effective responses to climate change: a ‘blind spot’ in both climate policies and solutions. It report brings together the best available knowledge, drawing on a wealth of case studies, in three parts: the state of knowledge on transboundary climate risks; assessing 10 globally significant transboundary climate risks; and the solution space to managing transboundary climate risks.

ODI is one of the founding members of Adaptation Without Borders, alongside Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) and The Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI).

Editors: Adriana Anisimov and Alexandre K. Magnan