Environmental Science Environmental Security
Christopher A. Scott, Bhuwan Thapa
  • LAST REVIEWED: 10 May 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 15 January 2015
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199363445-0012


Environmental security, as a subset of broader concerns over human security, is addressed from the disciplinary perspectives of international relations, political science, geography, development studies, and environmental studies. The concept of environmental security views ecological processes and natural resources as sources or catalysts of conflict, barriers or limits to human well-being, or conversely, as the means to mitigate or resolve insecurity. Security over natural resources—particularly energy and increasingly water—seen in terms of territorial control, treaty arrangements, and trade agreements (including the application of economic instruments) over production and conveyance of resources to demand locations, has tended to frame the analysis in international relations and political science. While spatial and transboundary concerns over resources continue to occupy geographers, attention in the field of geography is drawn increasingly to social equity and environmental justice dimensions of resource use and outcomes. Development studies focused on emerging economies and societies in rapid transition addresses environmental security in terms of differential national or regional access to resources and impacts, e.g., associated with pollution, deprivation, etc. And among other points of concern, environmental studies addresses environmental security in terms of local, intra-household, and gender-differentiated access to water, energy, and food as well as outcomes such as public health, nutrition, and quality of life. While the term environmental security has existed since at least the 1980s, its prominence in academic and political circles rose significantly after the 1994 Human Development Report of the United Nations Development Programme, which formulated the broadly accepted concept of human security. This report identified environmental security together with economic, food, health, personal, community, and political security as core components of human security. Since the 1990s, the definition and scope of environmental security have broadened to include multiple subsets, including food security, energy security, and water security, as well as emerging notions of adaptation and resilience to hazards, e.g., climate security, and all of these are referred to in this article. No attempt is made to treat the broad and ever-widening field of environmental security exhaustively. The principal aims are to trace the evolution of security discourses, consider securitization of the environment and natural resources, and assess new conceptions of environmental security in the context of global change. This work is funded by the Lloyd’s Register Foundation, a charitable foundation helping to protect life and property by supporting engineering-related education, public engagement, and the application of research.

General Overviews

After the end of the Cold War in 1990, the term security was expanded to include economic, environmental, and human securities, which can affect state stability but more broadly are determinants of human well-being. An early, influential piece, Ullman 1983 distinguishes human security (as access to, and enjoying the benefits of, quality of life) from state security (as strategic control over threats—real or perceived—as well as resources). Allenby 2000, Rwabizambuga 2007, and Swanström 2010 demonstrate that security had conventionally been associated with military and state power to ensure sovereignty, stability, and peace as well as to pursue armed conflict. As noted in the introduction, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) 1994 has been instrumental in advancing the human dimensions of security. In its broadened conceptualization, environmental security views ecological processes (anthropogenically influenced or not) as well as natural resources (water, land, forests, fisheries, etc.) as direct or contributing factors that cause or induce conflict and insecurity. Detraz 2009 discusses three linkages between environment and security: (1) environmental degradation directly or collaterally inducing conflict, (2) environmental degradation exerting negative impacts on human security, and (3) ecological security, in which human activities pose negative impacts on the environment. Trombetta 2008 and Graeger 1996 provide an overview of different perspectives on environmental security. These articles discuss seminal work on environmental conflict, military and environmental security, environmental cooperation, a human-security approach to environmental security, and climate security.

  • Allenby, Braden R. 2000. Environmental security: Concept and implementation. International Political Science Review 21.1: 5–21.

    DOI: 10.1177/0192512100211001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Allenby develops an analytical framework to support the evolution of the environmental security concept into operational programs by separating environmental security into four components: resource, energy, environmental, and biological securities.

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    • Detraz, Nicole. 2009. Environmental security and gender: Necessary shifts in an evolving debate. Security Studies 18.2: 345–369.

      DOI: 10.1080/09636410902899933Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Exploring the linkages between environmental security and gender, Detraz explains three components that link environment and security: environmental conflict, environmental security, and ecological security. The paper focuses on linkages between environmental security and gender and provides concrete examples of gender roles in resource management.

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      • Graeger, Nina. 1996. Environmental security? Journal of Peace Research 109–116.

        DOI: 10.1177/0022343396033001008Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        Graeger studies the conceptual and methodological value of the “environmental security” concept. The paper analyzes the concept of “securitizing” environment through military measure and its trans-nationalization role through international treaties.

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        • Rwabizambuga, Alexis. 2007. Environmental security and development. Conflict, Security & Development 7.1: 201–225.

          DOI: 10.1080/14678800601176618Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          Rwabizambuga argues that the linkage between human and environmental securities and development is strong in developing countries where human security is closely tied to natural resources. The author supports this theory with examples of resource management in African countries.

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          • Swanström, Niklas. 2010. Traditional and non-traditional security threats in central Asia: Connecting the new and the old. China and Eurasia Forum Quarterly 8.2: 35–51.

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            The study analyzes the interaction between traditional threats (military conflict, terrorism) and nontraditional ones (illicit drug trade) in Central Asia. It also provides a historical evaluation of how nontraditional security, such as environmental, food, and economic securities, has influenced national security in the region.

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            • Trombetta, Maria Julia. 2008. Environmental security and climate change: Analysing the discourse. Cambridge Review of International Affairs 21.4: 585–602.

              DOI: 10.1080/09557570802452920Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              The paper provides a useful overview of different schools of thought on environmental security and how these discourses evolved over time in different disciplines. The author discusses the theory of securitization, which emphasizes the logic of war applied to sectors from which it has been excluded. Concerning securitization of the environment, the debate shifts from the traditional logic of security, which is based on emergency and contingency, to a logic of prevention and management.

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              • Ullman, Richard H. 1983. Redefining security. International Security 8.1: 129–153.

                DOI: 10.2307/2538489Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                The paper attempts to broaden the concept of national security to include nonmilitary forms of security, such as the environment. Advanced countries could face nonmilitary threats due to socioeconomic and political disruptions in developing countries or changes in demand and supply of natural resources in developing regions induced by population and economic growth.

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                • United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). 1994. Human development report 1994. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                  The seminal report proposes a new paradigm for sustainable development through a framework of human security, which emphasizes the safety of human beings from chronic threats, such as hunger, lack of sanitation, and diseases, and from sudden and harmful disruptions in patterns of life. The report identifies environmental security, which is concerned with minimizing environmental threats posed by water scarcity, air pollution, natural disasters, and deforestation, as one of the seven categories of human security.

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                  Environmental Security and Human Security

                  Three principal resource securities emerged early on as the conceptualization of human security was broadened: food security, energy security, and environmental security. Barnett and Adger 2007 and Paris 2001 argue that all three are central to human development, quality of life, and mitigation of vulnerability from external threats such as climate change. In the developing- country context, human livelihood dependence on the environment and natural resources is especially high; indeed, food and energy securities may largely be localized as environmental security challenges. Thus, an intrinsic link exists between human and environmental security, particularly in the prevailing “sustainable development” view (Fischhendler and Katz 2013). However, Buzan, et al. 1998 highlights that the direct and immediate dependence on the environment as a matter of survival by individuals and communities heightens vulnerability that can lead to competition and conflict over resources and, in turn, to the politicization of resource access, scarcity, and environmental quality. Fox and Sneddon 2007 emphasizes that essential and nonsubstitutable resources, such as water, particularly in transboundary contexts, are prone to securitization—the process of being viewed in state security terms.

                  • Barnett, Jon, and W. Neil Adger. 2007. Climate change, human security and violent conflict. Political Geography 26.6: 639–655.

                    DOI: 10.1016/j.polgeo.2007.03.003Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    Barnett and Adger discuss human security through the lenses of vulnerability of local places and social groups to climate change via impacts on livelihoods and the role of the state in development and peacemaking. The study argues that under certain circumstances, direct and indirect impacts of climate change on human security may, in turn, increase the risk of violent conflict.

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                    • Buzan, Barry, Ole Wæver, and Jaap De Wilde. 1998. Security: A new framework for analysis. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner.

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                      In this volume, one of the widely cited books in security studies, the authors systematically analyze two contrasting views of security: a traditional military and state-centered view and a wider societal and sector-centered view. The chapter argues that many environmental issues are politicized via a process of bringing political attention to the issue, but they are not securitized, resulting in immediate state actions to reduce existential harm.

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                      • Fischhendler, Itay, and David Katz. 2013. The use of “security” jargon in sustainable development discourse: Evidence from UN Commission on Sustainable Development. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics 13.3: 321–342.

                        DOI: 10.1007/s10784-012-9192-zSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                        Fischhendler and Katz examine the construction of security arguments and language in the statements of the Commission on Sustainable Development dealing with energy and water. The study finds that many securitized issues are associated with human security, such as renewable energy, affordable food, and clean water, rather than with conflict and instability.

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                        • Fox, Coleen A., and Chris Sneddon. 2007. Transboundary river basin agreements in the Mekong and Zambezi basins: Enhancing environmental security or securitizing the environment? International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics 7.3: 237–261.

                          DOI: 10.1007/s10784-007-9036-4Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                          Taking the cases of the Mekong River basin and the Zambezi River basin, the authors study the role of multilateral agreements, such as international water law, in advancing ecological and human securities. The paper concludes that international agreements, such as the Mekong Agreement and Zambezi Protocol, can indeed be problematic, leading to securitization of the environment.

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                          • Paris, Roland. 2001. Human security: Paradigm shift or hot air? International Security 26.2: 87–102.

                            DOI: 10.1162/016228801753191141Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                            Paris critically analyzes the concept of human security proposed by the United Nations Development Programme. He analyzes security studies using a four-cell matrix based on two parameters (1) the source of security threat, i.e., military or nonmilitary and military, and (2) the targeted group receiving the security i.e., state or individual/ groups/ society. Environmental and economic threats are threats to states arising from military or nonmilitary sources. Human security, on the other hand, can be undermined by threats to individual/group/society arising from military and/or nonmilitary sources.

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                            Environmental Cooperation, Conflict and Refugees

                            The environment has been linked with human and state securities in complex ways. The role of scarce natural resources such as water and energy serving as pretexts for armed conflict leading to war or as instruments of cooperation and peace-building, has been extensively studied by many authors (Gleick 1993, Ross 2004, Homer-Dixon 1994). Though a general understanding exists of positive linkages among environmental resources, their degradation, and conflict, the dynamics and types of confrontation tend to be case specific, and, thus, general principles are debated. Hensel, et al. 2008 and Reuveny 2007 argue that natural resources alone do not explain civil violence, but they may contribute to episodes of conflict and even can lead to cooperative behavior. Theisen 2008 claims that renewable resource disputes are generally less prone to violent confrontation. On the other hand, Hsiang, et al. 2013 argues that environmental change can be the source of violent conflict. Using agent-based modeling to analyze responses to resource scarcity, Hassani-Mahmooei and Parris 2013 finds a high level of complexity in human allocation behavior, ranging from no statistically significant allocation changes to widespread conflict over the environment, depending on the initial conditions and the nature of the scenarios. Environmental refugees, or the people who are displaced as a result of environmental degradation or disasters, are another important concern for human and national securities. Gill 2010, Myers 2002, and Reuveny 2007 argue that although the number of environmental refugees has increased in recent decades, the exodus of refugees results from complex environmental and socioeconomic factors, such as lack of job opportunities, poverty, and environmental conditions.

                            • Gill, Nick. 2010. “Environmental refugees”: Key debates and the contributions of geographers. Geography Compass 4.7: 861–871.

                              DOI: 10.1111/j.1749-8198.2010.00336.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                              The term environmental refugees refers to people who have been displaced due to accelerated environmental change. Gill provides an overview of key debates surrounding the concept of environmental refugees, with a focus on the contributions of geographers. The paper discusses environmental processes and legal aspects of refugees.

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                              • Gleick, Peter H. 1993. Water and conflict: Fresh water resources and international security. International Security 18.1: 79–112.

                                DOI: 10.2307/2539033Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                The paper analyzes the geopolitics of water resources and conflict across the globe. Using historical cases and statistics from the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, Gleick argues that water resources could serve as military and political strategies or even as instruments of war.

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                                • Hassani-Mahmooei, Behrooz, and Brett W. Parris. 2013. Resource scarcity, effort allocation and environmental security: An agent-based theoretical approach. Economic Modeling 30:183–192.

                                  DOI: 10.1016/j.econmod.2012.08.020Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                  The authors use an agent-based modeling approach to study whether resource scarcity is likely to lead to an increase in the appropriation of resources. Using an economic production and conflict framework, the authors analyze how bounded-rational agents can update their adaptive expectations and optimize their allocation decisions. The result highlights a high level of complexity in agents’ allocation behavior with outputs ranging from no statistically significant allocation changes to widespread conflict in the environment, depending on the initial conditions and the nature of the scenarios.

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                                  • Hensel, Paul R., Sara Mitchell, Thomas E. Sowers II, and Clayton L. Thyne. 2008. Bones of contention comparing territorial, maritime, and river issues. Journal of Conflict Resolution 52.1: 117–143.

                                    DOI: 10.1177/0022002707310425Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                    Comparing territorial, maritime, and river issues in the Western Hemisphere, the authors explore the importance of contentious issues such as sources of militarized conflict. The study finds that maritime and river issues are less contentious than other kinds of territorial disputes, and hence less intractable; therefore, they tend to lead to cooperative behavior more than to conflict.

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                                    • Homer-Dixon, Thomas Levy. 1994. Environmental scarcities and violent conflict: Evidence from cases. International Security 19.1: 5–40.

                                      DOI: 10.2307/2539147Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                      One of the highly cited works on environmental security, this paper attempts to explain the relationship between environmental scarcity and violent conflict. Using cases from developing countries, the author concludes that although environmental scarcities do not directly lead to interstate war, these can lead to persistent and diffused subnational violence.

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                                      • Hsiang, Solomon M., Marshall Burke, and Edward Miguel. 2013. Quantifying the influence of climate on human conflict. Science 341.6151: 1235367.

                                        DOI: 10.1126/science.1235367Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                        Based on secondary datasets from previous conflict related studies, the study quantifies the impact of global climate change on conflict. The study concludes that climate change can make significant contributions to violent conflict.

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                                        • Myers, Norman. 2002. Environmental refugees: a growing phenomenon of the 21st century. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London: Series B: Biological Sciences 357.1420: 609–613.

                                          DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2001.0953Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                          The paper argues that the trend of environmental refugees across the globe is increasing and suggests potential policy solutions to address this challenge. The author projects an alarming number of refugees from global warming-induced migration resulting from coastal erosion, disruption of the monsoon system, and severe drought.

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                                          • Reuveny, Rafael. 2007. Climate change-induced migration and violent conflict. Political Geography 26.6: 656–673.

                                            DOI: 10.1016/j.polgeo.2007.05.001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                            The study evaluates thirty-eight cases of environment-induced migration across the globe in recent decades in order to understand the effects of climate change-induced migration on conflict. Based on the fourteen cases that involved migration, the author found that environmental migration does not always lead to conflict, but when it does, the conflict intensity can be very high, including interstate and intrastate wars.

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                                            • Ross, Michael L. 2004. What do we know about natural resources and civil war? Journal of Peace Research 41.3: 337–356.

                                              DOI: 10.1177/0022343304043773Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                              Ross reviews fourteen cross-national econometric studies and many qualitative studies to understand the relationship between natural resources and civil war. The study concludes that while oil production increases the onset of separatist conflict, “lootable” commodities, such as drugs, gemstones, and timber, increase the length of conflict but are not the cause that initiates the conflict.

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                                              • Theisen, Ole Magnus. 2008. Blood and soil? Resource scarcity and internal armed conflict revisited. Journal of Peace Research 45.6: 801–818.

                                                DOI: 10.1177/0022343308096157Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                Theisen explores the linkages of conflict with socioeconomic variables such as population density, soil degradation, deforestation, water scarcity, and civil war. He finds that scarcity of natural resources has limited explanatory power in terms of civil violence, whereas poverty and dysfunctional institutions are robustly related to conflict.

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                                                “Sectoral” Securities and the Environment

                                                After World War II, attention to basic human access to food, water, and energy increased. Food security was the earliest to emerge on the international humanitarian agenda. Shaw 2007 notes that the creation in 1945 of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization firmly established food security as a global paradigm and a goal of national planning. Food security was followed sequentially by energy security and finally water security. Kumar, et al. 2014 argues that interest is growing in the mutual influences among multiple environmental resources, including in terms of human security. Emblematic of these interlinkages is the water-energy-food security nexus. However, it is instructive to review the literature on the security dimensions of water, energy, and food separately. Each has a unique trajectory and a logic that is distinct from the others. In this section, water, energy, and food are treated as sectoral concerns and the environmental security literature for each is briefly reviewed.

                                                • Kumar, M. Dinesh, Nitin Bassi, A. Narayanamoorthy, and M. V. K. Sivamohan, eds. 2014. The water, energy and food security nexus. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.

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                                                  This book addresses the interlinked nature of water, energy, and food as resources that are central to human development. With India as the major focus of the chapters and case studies, the compelling need to marshal water and energy resources to achieve food self-sufficiency and security are discussed. Numerous chapters contain rich empirical detail.

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                                                  • Shaw, John D. 2007. World food security: A history since 1945. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.

                                                    DOI: 10.1057/9780230589780Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                    A useful review of the food security paradigm, this book covers World War II reconstruction efforts in Europe, the establishment of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, World Food Program, and related institutions through to food crises and responses to them in the current period.

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                                                    Water Security

                                                    Water as a resource is considered to be simultaneously productive and destructive. Grey and Sadoff 2007 as well as Scott, et al. 2012 describe water security as the condition of meeting human and ecosystem needs for water. Strong 1956 pays early attention to “water security” as productive access to water under conditions of scarcity and uncertainty. Cook and Bakker 2012 reviews the concept of water security, its genesis, and its application in academic policy settings. The authors note a marked decline or absence of state security conceptualizations of water security in the more recent literature, and they attempt to draw lessons on the relevance of water security for policy formulation. Like Cook and Bakker 2012, Bakker 2012 synthesizes the rapidly expanding literature on human and environmental dimensions of water security, departing from Falkenmark 2001, a seminal work. Gerlak and Wilder 2012 argues that water insecurity results from a complex mix of biophysical and human processes. Zeitoun 2011 addresses the complexity of institutions—local, regional, national, and global—that purport to reduce water insecurity. Gerlak, et al. 2009 highlights the human rights dimensions of water security. Vörösmarty, et al. 2010 spatially assesses threats to human water security and freshwater biodiversity across the globe.

                                                    • Bakker, Karen. 2012. Water security: Research challenges and opportunities. Science 337.6097: 914–915.

                                                      DOI: 10.1126/science.1226337Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                      A brief review article in the “Policy Forum” section of Science, this piece addresses human and ecosystem dimensions of water security, focusing on the availability and quality of water for livelihoods, state security, human health, and ecosystem services. It reviews more than four hundred recently published articles, attempting to distill trends in research, diagnose shortcomings, and, notably, address policy challenges in the literature.

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                                                      • Cook, Christina, and Karen Bakker. 2012. Water security: Debating an emerging paradigm. Global Environmental Change 22.1: 94–102.

                                                        DOI: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2011.10.011Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                        The authors find that the increasing use of the term among international organizations, global fora, and policy circles is evidence of an “emerging paradigm.” Similar to Bakker 2012, this article presents publication metrics and time series. Analytical problems in the application of the concept include scales that are incommensurate, mixed or inconsistent definitions, and application across disparate sectors (agriculture, engineering, health, etc.).

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                                                        • Falkenmark, Malin. 2001. The greatest water problem: The inability to link environmental security, water security and food security. International Journal of Water Resources Development 17.4: 539–554.

                                                          DOI: 10.1080/07900620120094073Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                          In this early, wide-ranging piece on integrative dimensions of water security, the author addresses multiple securities with the central concern of addressing environmental security in terms of water and food.

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                                                          • Gerlak, Andrea K., Robert G. Varady, and Arin C. Haverland. 2009. Hydrosolidarity and international water governance. International Negotiation 14.2: 311–328.

                                                            DOI: 10.1163/157180609X432842Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                            Echoing calls for water security in terms of human and environmental needs, the authors add social justice and human rights in distributional and essentialist terms to the list of concerns for water management and policy. With a strong focus on the ongoing work and legacy of Malin Falkenmark, this paper sets out major issues and trends in water governance that foreshadow the current debates on water security.

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                                                            • Gerlak, Andrea K., and Margaret Wilder. 2012. Exploring the textured landscape of water insecurity and the human right to water. Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development 54.2: 4–17.

                                                              DOI: 10.1080/00139157.2012.657125Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                              The authors present a conceptual framework that challenges security through explicit identification and definition of water insecurity. Buttressed by case examples, the paper emphasizes the human right to water.

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                                                              • Grey, David, and Claudia W. Sadoff. 2007. Sink or swim? Water security for growth and development. Water Policy 9.6.

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                                                                The authors present what has become one of the pervading definitions of water security: “the availability of an acceptable quantity and quality of water for health, livelihoods, ecosystems and production, coupled with an acceptable level of water-related risks to people, environments and economies” (pp. 547–548). Explicit recognition of risks allows for consideration of water hazards (flooding, rise in sea level) in addition to water-based livelihoods and economic development (based on scarcity and access criteria).

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                                                                • Scott, Christopher A., Robert G. Varady, Francisco Meza, et al. 2012. Science-policy dialogues for water security: Addressing vulnerability and adaptation to global change in the arid Americas. Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development 54.3: 30–42.

                                                                  DOI: 10.1080/00139157.2012.673454Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                  The authors attempt to take a comprehensive view on global-change adaptation by emphasizing water security in chronically water-scarce regions of the Americas. The policy prescriptions center on dialogue that integrates scientific research and decision-making via processes that entail inclusivity, involvement, interaction, and influence. Case evidence from North America and South America is presented to illustrate the conceptual approach of the authors.

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                                                                  • Strong, T. H. 1956. Land tenure in Australia in relation to technical advances and closer settlement. Journal of Farm Economics 458–464.

                                                                    DOI: 10.2307/1234385Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                    In an early explicit reference to “water security” this paper addresses the challenge of meeting water needs for humans, livestock, and crops in dispersed settlements in arid and semi-arid regions of Australia. The author proposes technical interventions and changes in land use to remedy lack of water.

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                                                                    • Vörösmarty, Charles J., P. B. McIntyre, M. O. Gessner, et al. 2010. Global threats to human water security and river biodiversity. Nature 467.7315: 555–561.

                                                                      DOI: 10.1038/nature09440Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                      This paper assesses human and climatic threats to water security and biodiversity. Using geospatial analysis of multiple stressors that also consider upstream-downstream effects in river basins, the authors demonstrate that water quantity and quality for human water security are threatened over most of the globe. They find broad coincidence between threats to biodiversity and to human water security.

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                                                                      • Zeitoun, Mark. 2011. The global web of national water security. Global Policy 2.3: 286–296.

                                                                        DOI: 10.1111/j.1758-5899.2011.00097.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                        The author puts forward an institutionalist view of water on the global policy stage. Links among multiple actors serve to strengthen or inhibit water-security outcomes across a range of regional contexts.

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                                                                        Energy Security

                                                                        Yergin 2006 argues that given the dependence of economies and societies on energy, combined with the spatial concentration of raw energy resources (particularly petroleum) in distinct regions, it is fair to say that in geopolitical terms energy represents the quintessential resource of national security interest. The development, transport, and consumption of energy, particularly from conventional sources (fossil fuels, nuclear, and hydropower) that account for the vast majority of energy resources globally, exert major environmental impacts. At the local level, pollution is an important challenge; at the global level, carbon emissions to the atmosphere affect the planetary systems and drive global warming and climate change and variability. As a result, energy security and environmental security are seen as inseparable (Chester 2010; Tilman, et al. 2009). Yet energy availability is not synonymous with security (Kruyt, et al. 2009). Winzer 2012 emphasizes the continuity of energy supply relative to the demand as a key focus of energy security. Sovacool and Brown 2010 discusses and presents energy efficiency and environmental stewardship as essential conditions for energy security. Because energy is required across a range of economic activities and natural resource-use processes, energy security is essential to water and food security—the nexus described in the “Sectoral” Securities and the Environment section.

                                                                        • Chester, Lynne. 2010. Conceptualizing energy security and making explicit its polysemic nature. Energy Policy 38.2: 887–895.

                                                                          DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2009.10.039Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                          Chester analyzes different discourses of energy security since World War II and their underlying assumptions. The study finds that security literature is marked by a dominant focus on two primary energy sources, oil and natural gas. The concept of security is inherently slippery because of its polysemic nature, capable of holding multiple dimensions and taking on different specificities depending on the country, time frame, or energy sources to which it is applied.

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                                                                          • Kruyt, Bert, Detlef P. van Vuuren, H. J. M. de Vries, and H. Groenenberg. 2009. Indicators for energy security. Energy Policy 37.6: 2166–2181.

                                                                            DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2009.02.006Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                            Based on a review of existing literature, the paper identifies four dimensions of energy security that relate to availability, accessibility, affordability, and acceptability. The study then applies a model-based scenario analysis to assess the future security of energy supply based on the four dimensions with a focus on western Europe.

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                                                                            • Sovacool, Benjamin K., and Marilyn A. Brown. 2010. Competing dimensions of energy security: An international perspective. Annual Review of Environment and Resources 35:77–108.

                                                                              DOI: 10.1146/annurev-environ-042509-143035Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                              The study identifies four key dimensions of energy security, i.e., availability, affordability, efficiency, and environmental stewardship based on a review of the literature. Using these four dimensions, the study quantifies the relative energy security of twenty-three member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) from 1970 to 2007. The result reveals that the majority of countries performed poorly in terms of energy security. These countries tend to focus only on one or two dimensions of energy security at the expense of other dimensions.

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                                                                              • Tilman, David, Robert Socolow, Jonathan A. Foley, et al. 2009. Beneficial biofuels: The food, energy, and environment trilemma. Science 325.5938: 270–271.

                                                                                DOI: 10.1126/science.1177970Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                Using the widely cited case of biofuel, the authors highlight the trade-offs of promoting biofuel with implications on food, energy, and environmental securities. The paper calls for biofuel policies to meet multiple objectives of energy security, greenhouse-gas emissions controls, biodiversity, and the sustainability of the food supply.

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                                                                                • Winzer, Christian. 2012. Conceptualizing energy security. Energy Policy 46:36–48.

                                                                                  DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2012.02.067Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                  Winzer reviews various characterizations of energy security according to the sources of risk and the scope and severity of the impacts.

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                                                                                  • Yergin, Daniel. 2006. Ensuring energy security. Foreign Affairs 85.2: 69–82.

                                                                                    DOI: 10.2307/20031912Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                    Yergin studies the geopolitical dynamics of global energy security. Defining energy security as ensuring sufficient supply of energy at affordable prices, he analyzes the global dynamics of energy supply and demand, including role of emerging economies such as India and China. The paper also provides a framework for maintaining energy security through mechanisms such as diversification of energy sources and increasing resilience of energy systems to external shocks.

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                                                                                    Food Security

                                                                                    Pinstrup-Andersen 2009 and Godfray, et al. 2010 argue that food production and self-sufficiency do not equate to food security, particularly because of uneven access to food and nutrition outcomes. Despite adequate production of food at the global level, meeting the food security needs of all human beings remains a principal concern. Food sovereignty is increasingly seen as control over the means of food production (land, labor, inputs, and water), distribution (transportation and marketing), and consumption (personal and household access and nutrition). Multiple factors, including climate change (Schmidhuber and Tubiello 2007), fertilizer availability (Cordell, et al. 2009), and access to irrigation water, threaten food security.

                                                                                    • Cordell, Dana, Jan-Olof Drangert, and Stuart White. 2009. The story of phosphorus: Global food security and food for thought. Global Environmental Change 19.2: 292–305.

                                                                                      DOI: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2008.10.009Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                      The study sheds light on the global supply and demand of phosphorus—a key fertilizer to ensure global food security. The paper predicts that global phosphorus production will peak at around 2030 and a long-term strategy will be required to address phosphorus scarcity for global food security.

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                                                                                      • Godfray, H., J. Charles, John R. Beddington, et al. 2010. Food security: The challenge of feeding 9 billion people. Science 327.5967: 812–818.

                                                                                        DOI: 10.1126/science.1185383Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                        The authors analyze the problem of feeding a projected population of 9 million by mid-century in an environmentally sustainable way and suggest strategies to mitigate potential shortfalls. The authors argue for a sustainable intensification of agriculture and regulated trade, increase in agriculture efficiency through improved seed varieties, reduction of food waste, and expansion of aquaculture as some of the major strategies to address food security.

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                                                                                        • Pinstrup-Andersen, Per. 2009. Food security: Definition and measurement. Food Security 1.1: 5–7.

                                                                                          DOI: 10.1007/s12571-008-0002-ySave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                          Pinstrup-Andersen discusses a different definition of food security and suggests that household and individual welfare are useful measures of food security. He defines food security as the condition in which all people at all times have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for a healthy and active life.

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                                                                                          • Sage, Colin. 2013. The interconnected challenges for food security from a food regimes perspective: Energy, climate and malconsumption. Journal of Rural Studies 29:71–80.

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                                                                                            Drawing upon a food regimes approach, Sage argues that the global food system is vulnerable to three interconnected challenges that make a largely productivist strategy inappropriate. These challenges are: rising energy costs, which will have repercussions for land and food security; climate change, which will have severe food security implications in the tropics; and an increase in consumption of poor-quality food, which will have dietary implications.

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                                                                                            • Schmidhuber, Josef, and Francesco N. Tubiello. 2007. Global food security under climate change. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 104.50: 19703–19708.

                                                                                              DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0701976104Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                              The authors analyze the impact of climate change on four dimensions of food security, namely, availability, stability, utilization, and access. Using quantitative and qualitative methods, they reveal that the impact of climate change in food security is significant, strongly influenced by socioeconomic conditions.

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                                                                                              Emerging Trends—Climate Security

                                                                                              A perceptible shift in the literature is evident from human and environmental security as adequacy and access (the condition of being secure), on the one hand, to coping or adapting to risk and hazard (freedom from insecurity), on the other. More than simply representing two sides of the same coin, these understandings frame the basic responses that societies and individuals pursue to achieve environmental security. In other words, the adequacy framing leads to strategies and actions that augment or secure access to resources, while the coping approach gives rise to adaptive behaviors that mitigate risk and vulnerability. Additionally, the latter understanding seeks to identify and mitigate multiple simultaneous or sequential risks. Thus, climate change as a potent, exogenous risk factor for human and environmental security has given rise to a broad and expanding field of adaptation, adaptive management, and resilience (in human and ecosystem terms). Perhaps the latest entrant to the environmental security debate is climate security (Detraz and Betsill 2009), in which climate change and variability are seen as capable of destabilizing national security and threatening to unleash armed conflict (Naval Studies Board 2011, McDonald 2013). Mason 2013 argues that climate security is not a “sectoral security” challenge as defined in the section “Sectoral” Securities and the Environment (for water, food, and energy); however, it very clearly intersects with all of these and is often considered a threat multiplier. Dalby 2013 and Barnett 2003 claim that from a climate change and variability perspective, environmental security increasingly needs to be seen in terms of risk.

                                                                                              • Barnett, Jon. 2003. Security and climate change. Global Environmental Change 13.1: 7–17.

                                                                                                DOI: 10.1016/S0959-3780(02)00080-8Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                Barnett systematically explores the range of possible connections between climate change and security, including national security considerations, human security concerns, military roles, and a discussion of the widely held assumption that climate change may trigger violent conflict.

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                                                                                                • Dalby, Simon. 2013. Biopolitics and climate security in the Anthropocene. Geoforum 49:184–192.

                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1016/j.geoforum.2013.06.013Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                  Dalby argues for a new form of bio-politics that addresses climate security beyond the conventional form of risk management. The paper focuses on geographical discourses on the geopolitics of climate security.

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                                                                                                  • Detraz, Nicole, and Michele M. Betsill. 2009. Climate change and environmental security: For whom the discourse shifts. International Studies Perspectives 10.3: 303–320.

                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1111/j.1528-3585.2009.00378.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                    Focusing on the implications of the debate in the United Nations Security Council in April 2007, the authors analyze the role of climate change in environmental conflict. Drawing upon discourses of environmental conflict and environmental security, they argue that focusing on the security aspects of climate change may produce counterproductive responses to global climate change.

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                                                                                                    • Mason, Michael. 2013. Climate change, securitisation and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Geographical Journal 179.4: 298–308.

                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1111/geoj.12007Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                      Mason critically analyzes role of climate change in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from two contrasting school of thoughts on environmental security: the Copenhagen School, which focuses on state-centered and military-based security, and the “sociological” approach, which arises from diverse set of state and nonstate actors. He argues that climate change is seen as a threat multiplier under both the schools.

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                                                                                                      • McDonald, Matt. 2013. Discourses of climate security. Political Geography 33:42–51.

                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1016/j.polgeo.2013.01.002Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                        McDonald provides a thorough overview of different discourses of climate security mainly focusing on three components of security: (1) the natural security threat from violent conflict induced by climate change, (2) the human security threat resulting from environmental security, and (3) the international security threat, in which climate change is seen as a global threat influencing international organizations.

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                                                                                                        • Naval Studies Board. 2011. National security implications of climate change for US naval forces. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

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                                                                                                          The report, which was prepared for personnel of the US naval forces, argues that climate change raises challenges to America’s current naval capabilities, requiring serious changes to the design of fleets, training, and deployment of ships. The report provides six action recommendations for US naval forces to address the impacts of short-term and long-term climatic changes.

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