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 6: Food Security

Colin Sage

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


Colin Sage 1 INTRODUCTION The 1994 Human Development Report lists seven main threats to human security: economic, health, environmental, personal, community, political and food security (UNDP, 1994). Food security touches on all the dimensions of human security: economics, social relations, health, community development and structures of political power and the environment. Consequently, food security has to be approached in a holistic way that recognises the complexity of intersecting multidimensional processes operating at all spatial scales (from the global to the individual), and in ways that are temporally discontinuous. Almost 800 million people in the developing world do not have enough to eat, and a further 34 million people in the industrialised countries and economies in transition also suffer from chronic food insecurity (FAO, 1999). Food insecurity is used here to mean a dietary intake of insufficient and appropriate food to meet the needs of growth, activity and the maintenance of good health. In addition to those suffering from chronic hunger many millions more experience food insecurity on a seasonal or transitory basis. Prolonged protein energy malnutrition results in undernourishment with loss of body weight, reduced capacity to work and susceptibility to infectious, nutrientdepleting illnesses, such as gastro-intestinal infections, measles and malaria (Kates, 1996). Even mild undernourishment in children can lead to delayed or permanently stunted growth (DeRose and Millman, 1998). There are almost 200 million children in the world displaying low height-for-age with almost half of the children of South Asia failing to reach the weights and heights considered...

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