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 10: Human Security and the Environment in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Challenge of the New Millennium

Kwasi Nsiah-Gyabaah

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


Kwasi Nsiah-Gyabaah 1 INTRODUCTION In the developed countries, there has been tremendous socio-economic development and the introduction of new technologies to protect the environment and meet basic human needs. However, in many developing countries, particularly in Africa, the security of livelihoods has been undermined by socio-economic factors such as poverty, overpopulation, human rights abuses and environmental degradation caused by toxic contamination, global warming and ozone layer depletion, soil degradation, pollution and loss of biodiversity. Other natural, and anthropogenic, forces that contribute to insecurity and environmental degradation include drought, soil erosion, volcanic eruption, deforestation, earthquakes, political oppression, armed conflicts and so on. The natural and socio-economic factors that constitute a barrier to sustainable development and human security are the key challenges facing Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) in the twenty-first century. Recent media reports from Africa show refugees displaced by fighting, famine and stark images of starving children standing naked pleading for food. The spectre of ethnic conflicts and human rights abuses, widespread poverty, violence and discrimination against women, accelerated environmental degradation and the chaotic socio-cultural, economic and political systems, have created human insecurity and given an image of a continent in poverty and permanent environmental crisis. Statistics about the scale of the problems cannot be ignored because they result in the fear that Africa is a lost continent because Africans are incapable of reversing their socio-economic and environmental problems. However, in reality, all hope is not lost as a result of globalisation, communication technology, socio-economic and environmental reforms and...

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