Is the Environment a Security Threat?

By Niloy Ranjan Biswas

The evolving concept of environmental security is much debated in security studies discourse. Major theoretical paradigms of international relations are quite successful in decoding the practical security problems arising from environmental and climatic changes. Moreover, academics and practitioners have started exploring the security implications of these changes on various levels. Considering all these developments, this paper asks the question: Is the changing of the environmental condition a security threat to an individual and a nation? It explores how environmental degradation poses significant challenges to security. In doing so, this paper reviews both traditional and nontraditional schools of thought within security studies. The paper also examines the conceptual linkages between environment and security. It primarily focuses on the contributions of the constructivist school of thought in the creation of the environmental security concept. It also examines the contribution of the human security approach and nontraditional schools of thought of security. The paper argues for the importance of the ‘environment-threat-vulnerability’ framework that establishes the relationship between environmental degradation and potential conflicts. It works with a small set of primary information to explain the prevalence and effects of ecological degradation and climate change, as well as national and international policy responses to address these threats. Finally, these primary and secondary research findings facilitate the central argument of the paper that the changing environmental conditions are significant threats to human and national security.

About the Author:
Niloy Ranjan Biswas is a Lecturer in the Department of International Relations, University of Dhaka. He is currently pursuing an M.A. in Security Policy Studies at the Elliott School of International Affairs, the George Washington University in Washington D.C. under the Foreign Fulbright Scholarship Scheme 2010/11. The author extends his sincere appreciation to Dr. Joanna Spear of Elliott School of International Affairs, the George Washington University for her valuable time and comments on the structure and the first draft of the paper. He also thankfully acknowledges the contribution of the editorial team of IAR to make the paper publishable.

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Very informative paper ….a new area of study and the author has contributed immensely

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