Publications > Poverty Times #2 > Environment and security

Poverty Times #2

Environment and security

In 2003, water was high on the international development agenda, but there was also alarm over human and environmental security. At the beginning of the year, there were more than 30 major conflicts (those with over 1,000 casualties, both military and civilian) in the world. Most of these, as has been the case for years, were intrastate1.

Most notable was the war in Iraq, as well as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the admission by Korea that it had nuclear weapons, the struggle for an independent Chechen Republic, ongoing conflict in Central Africa, and rebellion in West Africa. Although the linkages between environment and security have been recognised by specialist agencies for some time, integration into policy making has not been widely adopted – the article by William Mansfield iii recounts the route taken in North America.

A branch of the environment-security nexus is the overwhelming vulnerability of the poor to environmental shocks and changes. In 2003 an estimated 43,000 people died in an earthquake in Iran2, 3 million people were affected by flooding in India2, 15,000 people died in hot weather in France3, 1,500 people were left homeless when a fire swept through a shantytown on the outskirts of Lima, Peru4, and people in 38 countries (including Ethiopia, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Afghanistan) required exceptional external food assistance5.

The majority of these were poor.

We have dedicated the next four pages to exposing some of the linkages between environment, risks, and security, advertising some recent work, and presenting some new, visual, perspectives. The article from Robert Lalasz for example, illustrates how management of a natural resource (water) can be achieved even when there are political differences. And the maps and stamps add a novel, graphical dimension to considering the linkages and formulating solutions. The Environmental Vulnerability Index, being developed by the South Pacific Geoscience Commission is something to look out for later in the year – when the Barbados Plan of Action is reviewed. The index will illustrate the particular vulnerabilities and priorities of Small Island Developing States.

  1. Friends Committee on National Legislation – un Funding and peacekeeping
  2. Natural Disasters 2003 – In review
  3. Ministry of Health, France
  4. 4. Abc News online
  5. Global Information and Early Warning System on Food and Agriculture