Worldwatch Institute Spotlights Environmental Security

World Watch Magazine's "A New Security Paradigm" Praises ECSP Work

Jan 03, 2005

Worldwatch Institute, an independent research organization that works for an environmentally sustainable and socially just society, spotlights environmental security in its magazine's January cover story, "A New Security Paradigm," by Gregory D. Foster. Foster, a professor at National Defense University, claims that 2004 "may have been a seminal year for the field of environmental security….the year when U.S. policymakers and the American public began to awaken, however belatedly, to the need for an entirely new approach to security."

Foster lists the major events that boosted environmental security's prominence in 2004, starting with Fortune's article on the Pentagon-commissioned study of abrupt climate change and ending with the final report of the Secretary-General's High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges, and Change. As the High-Level Panel's report was published after Foster went to press, he used the preliminary report on Environment and Security produced by ECSP and the UN Foundation to summarize how the panel might report on environmental security.

In his outline of the major events of 2004, Foster includes the publication in October of Understanding Environment, Conflict, and Cooperation, which ECSP produced with UNEP's Division of Early Warning and Assessment. Calling the report "thought-provoking," Foster continues:

The subject matter of the report is not new, but the question it implies is: whether new life can be breathed into what was, throughout most of the 1990s, a lively debate over whether and how the environment and security are related and interact.


To continue this debate, Foster advocates a fundamental transformation in our concept of security, starting by redefining security to recognize that individual security is the precondition for national security. He counters opponents who insist that security threats have to be intentional, directly causal, and scientifically certain to be legitimate, and instead offers four new "strategic imperatives" to guide the future: integrated causation management, institutionalized anticipatory response, appropriate situational tailoring, and comprehensive operational integration.

Foster's article kicks off a new year—and new focus—on environmental security at Worldwatch. The 2005 edition of Worldwatch's annual State of the World report, Redefining Global Security, examines the underlying sources of global insecurity, including the perilous interplay among poverty, infectious disease, environmental degradation, and rising competition for resources. ECSP Director Geoffrey Dabelko co-authored two chapters of the report, "Managing Water Conflict and Cooperation" with Aaron T. Wolf, Annika Kramer, and Alexander Carius; and "Building Peace Through Environmental Cooperation," with Ken Conca and Alexander Carius.

State of the World 2005: Redefining Global Security will be released January 12th at the National Press Club. Check back here on January 12th for links to these chapters and additional resources.

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