Risk Reduction

Risk Reduction

Nuclear risks are rising – we are working to reduce them


Relations between states have become more complex and increasingly conflict-prone with the rise of multipolarity or multiorder and experts and states agree that there is a crisis in the international rules-based order. This increases the risk of conflict between states, not only as a result of states moving into adversarial positions, but also as a result of a breakdown in treaty regimes and communication between them. Technological advances are adding to this risk of conflict with more sophisticated weapons systems remaining unregulated, and the entanglement of conventional and nuclear weapons may increase the risk of misunderstandings between states.

At the same time, climate change impact on security, including human security, is an increasingly important topic in international politics. There is agreement among experts and states that the ongoing climate crisis and global environmental destruction will inevitably exacerbate conflict, increase fragility and the sense of vulnerability of states, societies, ecological systems and ultimately increase the risk of global geopolitical competition. Climate change is simultaneously a systemic crisis and a conflict multiplier demanding specific risk reduction measures.

BASIC’s Risk Reduction Programme aims to reduce the risk of conflict between states to build a stable international order. The programme identifies risks of conflict and their escalation, and develops risk reduction tools and confidence-building measures to assist states and other actors with research-based policy advice to reduce the risk of conflict and the escalation of conflict.

Our Work

BASIC’s flagship project ‘Turning Point: Realising a Sustainable Security Architecture in Europe’ generously funded by the Polden-Puckham Charitable Foundation is concerned with climate change, human security and peace. The three-year project aims to create a model for security that addresses the interconnectedness of climate change, conflict and human security and we will do so in collaboration with states and experts across wider Europe. We collaborate with Rethinking Security on delivering this project.

BASIC’s Arctic project ‘The Future of Alliance Relationships in the Arctic: Forecasting and Addressing Geopolitical and Strategic Risks 2022-2042’ forecasts risks emerging due to the changing alliance relationships in the region. The project is funded by the Department of National Defence Canada with a Targeted Engagement Grant. 

BASIC’s NATO project ‘Understanding the Impact of Climate Change on Security: Mapping Allies Responses and Perceptions’ researches how NATO states prioritise climate change in their national security strategies and how the allies assess the geopolitical implications of climate change. The project is funded by the Department of National Defence Canada with a Targeted Engagement Grant.

In 2020-2022, we delivered a project ‘Phase Two: Applying a Systematic Approach to NATO Russia Risk Reduction’. The project found that NATO is embarking upon a monumental task of exploring and reaching agreement between the NATO states themselves on how to deal with Russia during the conflict and in the post-conflict future. There is a significant difference of opinion between NATO members on key issues, such as deterrence, the utility of risk reduction measures, what Russia would have to do in order for NATO to re-open a dialogue, and the future relationship with Russia. We are grateful to our funders at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.

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In 2022, we delivered a project Risk Reduction in Arctic. Our research addressed the risk of conflict in the Arctic over a twenty-year perspective and we found that there are concerns that the Arctic may be torn apart as a result of geopolitical forces on several levels, and that the rules-based order in the Arctic has come under pressure. This presents a number of risks to future security in the region and the Arctic states are having difficulties figuring out how to move on from here. We are grateful to our funders at the Department of National Defence Canada.

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Analysis and Publications for this Programme

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Report: Clashes of Perceptions: Bridging Perspectives on Security in Europe

Over the past 18 months, BASIC has undertaken in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, Phase 2 Applying as Systematic Approach to NATO-Russia Risk Reduction that aimed at advancing the understanding of workable options for risk reduction and fostering new relationships between NATO and Russia.

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Report: Risks and Risk Reduction: A View from the South-eastern Flank

In September 2022, BASIC held a track 1.5 workshop in Sofia to discuss risk and threat assessments in South-eastern and Northern Europe. The workshop is part of the two-year project ‘Phase 2: Applying a Systematic Approach to NATO-Russia Risk Reduction’ that BASIC is undertaking in collaboration with the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  

Active Programmes

BASIC believes in making progress on nuclear disarmament, arms control, and non-proliferation through multiple complementary approaches. We continuously develop our programmes – streams of research – through sustained engagement with a wide range of stakeholders, collectively searching for the art of the possible.

Our current programmes are listed below. View the current programmes page by clicking here.