Human Security and the Environment

Human Security and the Environment

International Comparisons

Edited by Edward A. Page and Michael Redclift

In the post-Cold War era, the pre-eminent threats to our security derive from human degradation of vital ecosystems as well as the possibility of war and terrorist attack. This substantial book examines this new ‘security-environment’ paradigm and the way in which the activities of societies are shifting the balance with nature. The distinguished authors investigate this redefinition of security with particular reference to environmental threats such as climate change and the availability of adequate supplies of food and water. They illustrate how unfettered economic growth, rising levels of personal consumption and unsustainable natural resource and energy procurement are taking a heavy toll on the global environment.

Chapter 4: Global Environmental Change and Human Security: What Do Indicators Indicate?

Steve Lonergan, Fred Langeweg and Henk Hilderink

Subjects: environment, environmental geography, environmental politics and policy, environmental sociology, politics and public policy, environmental politics and policy, european politics and policy


Steve Lonergan, Fred Langeweg and Henk Hilderink 1 INTRODUCTION Environmental activities are closely linked to various development issues. For example, in Our Common Future The World Commission on Environment and Development (1987) emphasised the linkages between demography, population growth, social cohesion, economic development, health and environmental activities. Agenda 21 of the UN Conference on Environment and Development contains a practical list of subjects and issues relevant to sustainable development, and includes a call for the identification of appropriate indicators and indicator frameworks. Since this time, there has been a considerable amount of research focused on identifying indicators of sustainable development and, to a lesser extent, human security. The purpose of this chapter is to review some of these indicator frameworks, and to present in detail two of these developed by the authors. The chapter concludes with recommendations for future indicator research. What is the meaning of terms such as environmental change, human security and sustainable development? Like many concepts, they are constructed according to sets of social, economic and political relations within specific historical and spatial locations. One of the purposes of identifying appropriate indicators is to impart specific meanings to otherwise ambiguous or conditional terms, such as well-being, quality of life, human security or environmental quality. Sustainable development, for example, is usually characterised as a well-balanced development in an economic, social, ecological and institutional sense, with intergenerational equity being an important component. The concept of human security, on the other hand, has a longer history, and...

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