Climate change is projected to have devastating impacts on people and ecosystems if the world does not reach the goals set in the Paris Agreement – and significant impacts even if it does. Traditionally the focus in public discussions and policy has been on direct climate impacts such as extreme weather events.

However, there is a growing recognition that many of the more serious impacts may be indirect, cascading and cross-border. This is especially the case in Nordic countries that are both less vulnerable to direct impacts and more exposed to international connections than many other countries.

Transboundary climate risks can manifest in many different ways. For example, severe drought in one country could devastate crops, which could raise prices of imported food in another. A typhoon or a flood could damage a semiconductor factory in one country, which could limit the production of cars or computers in another. Unrest aggravated by climate-related impacts in one country could contribute to forced migration to another.

To better understand these risks and how to respond to them, the Nordic Council of Ministers’ working group on Climate and Air (NKL) commissioned this study from a Nordic consortium consisting of Tyrsky Consulting, the Stockholm Environment Institute and the Western Norway Research Institute. The work was guided by a steering group with representatives from all five Nordic countries. The project approached the issue from various angles and using various tools, including a literature study, expert and stakeholder interviews and trade data analysis.

The report suggests that there is potential to deepen Nordic cooperation in analysing transboundary climate risks and addressing them. While the Nordic Council of Ministers and national governments can play a key role, building resilience requires broad cooperation with businesses and other stakeholders, both within the region and internationally. The project contributes to the Nordic Prime Ministers’ vision for the Nordic region to strengthen research and development and promote solutions that support CO2 neutrality and climate adaptation in areas such as transport, construction, food and energy.

This report aims to inform Nordic policymakers and business leaders in how to prepare for transboundary climate risks.