The idea that climate change is a maritime security issue is still met with skepticism or palpable resistance, especially from defense practitioners — something I have learned by conducting research interviews on the topic.

However, the impacts of climate change on coastal regions have severe maritime security implications, in particular for countries with extensive coastlines, such as those in the Indo-Pacific. The transnational nature of the climate threat needs to be recognized and states need to rise above their narrow self-interests to prepare for future crises.

Maritime security threats are caused by state or nonstate actors, or nonhuman entities (like the climate), and undermine the well-being of marine ecosystems, communities’ access to marine resources and/or the integrity of states’ maritime jurisdictions. These threats include piracy, smuggling, human trafficking, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, international disputes, marine degradation and pollution as well as strategic competition between states.