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Strengthening Sovereignty: Security and Sustainability in an Era of Climate Change

DOI: 10.3390/su3091416

Keywords: climate change, sovereignty, security, sustainability, radical enviro-transformation, Pakistan, Arctic, ecomigration, disruptive scarcities, sustainable security, preventative engagement, adaptation

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Abstract:

Using Pakistan and the Arctic as examples, this article examines security challenges arising from climate change. Pakistan is in crisis, and climate change, a transnational phenomenon perhaps better characterized as radical enviro-transformation, is an important reason. Its survival as a state may depend to great extent on how it responds to 2010’s devastating floods. In the Arctic, the ice cap is melting faster than predicted, as temperatures there rise faster than in almost any other region. Unmanaged, a complex interplay of climate-related conditions, including large-scale “ecomigration”, may turn resource competition into resource conflict. Radical enviro-transformation has repeatedly overborne the resilience of societies. War is not an inevitable by-product of such transformation, but in the 21st Century climate-related instability, from resource scarcity and “ecomigration”, will likely create increasingly undesirable conditions of insecurity. Weak and failing states are one of today’s greatest security challenges. The pace of radical enviro-transformation, unprecedented in human history, is accelerating, especially in the Arctic, where a new, open, rich, and accessible maritime environment is coming into being. The international community must work together to enhance security and stability, promote sustainability, and strengthen sovereignty. Radical enviro-transformation provides ample reason and plentiful opportunity for preventative, collaborative solutions focused broadly on adaptation to climate change, most particularly the effects of “ecomigration”. Nations must work together across the whole of government and with all instruments of national power to create conditions for human transformation—social, political, and economic—to occur stably and sustainably, so as to avoid or lessen the prospects for and consequences of conflict. Collaborative international solutions to environmental issues, i.e., solutions that mobilize and share technology and resources, will build nations and build peace. The military, through “preventative engagement” will play a more and more important role. Further research and analysis is needed to determine what changes in law and policy should be made to facilitate stable and secure “ecomigration” on an international scale, over a long timeline.

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