Rapid Evidence Review

The Impacts of Climate Change on Illicit Drug Cultivation

29th April 2024
Author: Brian Lucas

This K4DD Rapid Evidence Review explores how climate change can create incentives for participating in illicit drug production by disrupting agricultural and natural-resource-based livelihoods and exacerbating social, economic, and political stresses and conflict.

However, it is difficult to identify a precise causal relationship between the impacts of climate change and illicit drug production, and the effects of climate change appear to be limited compared with other driving forces. In Afghanistan, climate change is expected to contribute to rising temperatures, worsening water stress, and increasing frequency and severity of extreme weather events. Adverse effects of climate change and conflict on agricultural livelihoods and irrigation infrastructure have contributed to increased opium poppy cultivation, but farmers’ decisions about growing poppies are strongly influenced by security, social, political, economic, technological, and market factors.

Across Latin America, climate change is expected to cause increasing temperatures, significant changes in precipitation patterns, and water scarcity, which will strengthen incentives for illicit crop production. However, other factors including changing patterns of demand for drugs globally, rural poverty and limited economic opportunities, low and volatile prices for coffee and other agricultural commodities in international markets, and the legacy of conflict (in Colombia) appear to have greater influence than climate change on illicit crop production patterns.

Suggested Citation

Lucas, B. (2024). The impacts of climate change on illicit drug cultivation. K4DD Rapid Evidence Review 43. Brighton, UK: Institute of Development Studies. DOI: 10.19088/K4DD.2024.003


29th April 2024


Continent: Asia, Global, South America

Country: Afghanistan, Colombia