You are here

Climate change and defence: Preparing for the future

12 December 2023
Image of a person at a lectern delivering remarks © BR&U

On 12 December, a seminar on climate change and defence was jointly organised by the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU and the EU Institute for Security Studies (EUISS). The event brought together high-level speakers and experts from the EU institutions, Member States, and think tanks to examine and discuss both internal and external dimensions of the climate change and defence nexus, and how we can adapt base infrastructure, force employment, and scenario planning for the future. 

Given the increasing impact of climate change on defence, the event sought to examine what resilience-building and adaptation measures can or must be taken by government agencies and the armed forces, and how these can be supported by the Union. These and similar questions were addressed during the keynote speech by General Robert Brieger and two subsequent panels. 

Opening remarks were made by Dr Steven Everts, Director of the EUISS, and Lt General Fernando Lopez del Pozo, Defence Policy Director of Spain. Dr Everts highlighted how climate change is one of the greatest global problems right now, as exemplified by the hard-fought negotiations at COP28. Meanwhile, Lt General del Pozo shared the national experiences of Spain in tackling climate change, while also mentioning the role the EU must play in this truly global effort. 

During the keynote speech, General Robert Brieger noted that climate change is an important topic at the European Union Military Committee and concluded that it is a “strategic challenge not only for societies but also for the militaries”. In her concluding remarks, Elena Gómez Castro, Ambassador Representative of Spain to the PSC, acknowledged the immediate and tangible presence of climate change challenge. Emphasising the need to enhance resilience, train, invest, develop tools for crisis management and planning, and provide training.

Panel I was moderated by Senior Analyst Dr Jan Joel Andersson, and discussed the impact of climate change on the military. Panellists examined how climate change will affect all aspects of defence, including military operations, and how it will force the military to adapt its capabilities and infrastructures. 


  • Colonel Juan Francisco Nieves Oti, Head of Defence Policy Director’s Cabinet, Spanish Ministry of Defence 
  • Dr Constantinos Hadjisavvas, Project Officer and Project Manager of EU-funded programmes, EDA  
  • Ricardo Tavares da Costa, Scientific Officer, European Commission, Joint Research Centre 

Panel II was also moderated by Dr Jan Joel Andersson, and addressed the adaption of force employment doctrine concerning CSDP, scenarios, and training for missions and operations


  • Raphaela Engel, Policy Officer, Security and Defence Policy, EEAS  
  • Lt Colonel. Nicolas Rocquet, Resources Support Branch, Logistics Directorate, EUMS  
  • Dr Louise van Schaik, Head EU & Global Affairs, and coordinator climate change & development research, Clingendael