By Corina Oliquino i FilAm Star Correspondent

MANILA – Australia-based independent think tank Institute for Economics and Peace’s (IEP) Global Peace Index 2019 listed the Philippines as the country most susceptible to climate change hazards.

The country was followed by Japan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, China, Indonesia, India, Vietnam and Pakistan.

The study found 47 percent of the country’s population is in “areas highly exposed to climate hazards such as earthquakes, tsunami, floods, tropical cyclones and drought,” with capital Manila placing seventh with most risk to a single climate hazard.

In a report by The Philippine Star, IEP assessed the impact of climate change to overall peaceful worldwide for the first time.

“Environmental risks of climate change and resource scarcity had the highest likelihood and impact, out of five risk categories including economic, geopolitical, societal, technological and environmental threats, as estimated by the World Economic Forum,” it said, noting some 971 million people are at risk of experiencing extreme weather events and breakdowns in peacefulness in the coming decades.

“Four out of 10 people live in countries with low levels of peace, while 22 percent reside in nations with high levels of peace,” the report noted, adding “climate change can indirectly increase the likelihood of violent conflict through resource availability, livelihood security, and migration.”

The report noted 61.5 percent of displacements in 2017 because of climate-related disasters, while 38.5 percent was due to armed conflict.

Of this number, 400 million or 41 percent reside in countries with already low levels of peacefulness.

“Climate change amplifies the risks of breakdowns in peacefulness by acting as a threat multiplier,” the IEP said.

“While climate change doesn’t automatically lead to higher levels of violence, climate pressures adversely impact resource availability, affect population dynamics and strain societal institutions, which affect socio-economic and political stability,” it added.

Improved peacefulness ranking
The country ranked 134th out of 163 countries, higher than last year’s 138th but still behind SEA neighbors Singapore (7th), Malaysia (16th), Laos (45th), Indonesia (57th), Cambodia (89th), Thailand (117th) and Myanmar (125th).

“Eight of the 25 least peaceful countries have over 10 per cent of their population in areas of high risk to multiple climate hazards, or a total of 103.7 million people,” the report noted.

“The Philippines, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mexico and Nigeria are particularly vulnerable, with 47, 26, 24 and 24 per cent of their populations in areas of high exposure to climate hazards, respectively, and GPI internal peace scores above three,” it added.

Iceland, New Zealand and Austria topped the peaceful index, while South Sudan, Syria and Afghanistan deemed the least peaceful.

IEP noted the average level of global peacefulness improved “very slightly for the first time in five years,” with 86 countries becoming more peaceful in 2019.

The report’s peace index based its rating on 23 indicators, including data on internal and external conflicts, level of perceived criminality, number of refugees, political instability, impact of terrorism, volume of crimes, military expenditures and contribution to peace-keeping missions.