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 8: The European Union and the ‘Securitisation’ of the Environment

John Vogler

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


John Vogler 1 INTRODUCTION Environmental degradation, resource scarcity and the subsequent socio-political impact are a potential threat to security as they may give rise to or exacerbate civil conflicts and conflicts between states. We therefore welcome that the international institutions are attaching increasing importance to the relationship between environmental stress and security. We will examine how to further the issue of preventing and reducing conflicts of environmental origin. (Communique, G8 Environment Ministers Meeting, Schwerin 26–28 March 1999) The ending of the Cold War in Europe destroyed many of the old certainties about the character of threats, the meaning of security and the identity of the providers of security. It also coincided with the upsurge of public and political interest in global environmental change in the late 1980s and early 1990s. One result was an ongoing academic debate on the redefinition or extension of existing security concepts with particular reference to environmental threats. Much of the argument was conducted in North America (Deudney and Matthew, 1999) but there were also significant European contributions. Some commentators explored the prospects for a radical redefinition of the core concept of security. In international relations the term had long been interpreted to mean the absence of military threat to the territorial integrity, independence and core values of the state. Lack of such security in an anarchic world of armed nations represented the basic problematic for generations of scholars and statesmen. In the aftermath of the Cold War and...

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