The Environment: Threat to Security or Opportunity for Peace?

Terrorism, disease, and poverty top today's security agenda. But what about the environment? Can environmental security help us make the world a safer place?

May 10, 2004
  • Do environmental stress and resource scarcity contribute to conflict?
  • How can the environment build peace in conflict zones?
  • Can new and innovative financial mechanisms promote global environmental security?
  • How do international environmental conventions improve security?
  • What should the European Union, the United Nations, and the United States do to ensure environmental security?

    These and other issues were the focus of The Hague Conference on Environment, Security, and Sustainable Development held May 10-13. Geoffrey Dabelko, who helped organize a panel examining U.S. and E.U. policies on security and the environment, filed dispatches from the conference with Grist, the online environmental magazine that claims to offer "gloom and doom with a sense of humor"--here's an excerpt:


    "Yet Minister van Geel made clear as he opened the conference that the climate change issue will be pushed aggressively during the Dutch turn at the European Presidency starting in July 2004. Holland is a country, after all, where you ride your bike uphill to get to the beach. He called for action on climate change and the sea-level rise that comes with it by saying he would rather avoid having the next meeting at The Hague in life jackets. It would indeed be a shame for Andrew Carnegie's lovely Peace Palace, the home of the International Court of Justice, where we are meeting for three days, to be submerged."

    For more, visit Grist Dispatches.

    The conference sought "to promote more sustainable relationships between people, their environment, and the natural resources they depend on for their well-being on the basis of precaution, equity, efficiency and choice. This will require building understanding of the relationship between environment and security, and how this relationship affects sustainable development." For a full conference schedule, click here.

    The Institute for Environmental Security is a newly established think-tank headquartered in The Hague, The Netherlands with liaison offices in Brussels and Washington, D.C. The Institute's mission is "to advance global environmental security by promoting the maintenance of the regenerative capacity of life-supporting eco-systems."

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