Environmental security serves as a fulcrum around which global issues revolve. It denotes the intricate relationship between human existence, ecological balance, and the pressures both conventional and unconventional factors exert on our environment. But like any multifaceted issue, it presents a range of opportunities and threats, each needing nuanced understanding and measured action. It’s vital to delve into the current challenges and potential avenues of change facing environmental security, drawing from recent insights in the field.
Environmental security is fundamentally about the interplay of human and ecological determinants that shape the modern world. While it has been greatly influenced by the Constructivist perspective, it underscores the importance of both conventional (like military actions and state-centric approaches) and unconventional factors (like urban warfare and interactions with nature). It’s essential to view it not as a stand-alone concern but as a multidimensional issue intertwined with peace, national security, human rights, and transnational implications.
We are in the Anthropocene era – a phase signifying profound human influence on the Earth’s geology and ecosystems. This transition demands responsible stewardship and global rethinking to ensure the Earth remains a stable system.
Essentially, there’s an urgent call for a planetary system resembling geological conditions akin to the past ten thousand years to foster sustainability. With human activities affecting CO2 emissions, there’s a direct impact on regional and global climates. This change affects agriculture, leading to food shortages and spurring political and ethnic tensions. They pose potential cataclysmic threats linked to societal collapse. Environmental change has an impact on resource distribution and quality, especially affecting impoverished communities. The incapacity of global institutions to manage environmental problems can amplify threats to state and community stability.
Modern resources, including digital platforms and grassroots movements, offer robust avenues to address environmental challenges. Emphasizing the intertwined nature of human security with environmental issues can lead to integrated solutions. Environmental security isn’t the sole nation’s responsibility. International organizations, governments, and the private sector need to join hands for future security. Goals aiming to balance human needs with environmental conservation are at the forefront. Such objectives can guide policies, strategies, and actions at multiple levels.
Pakistan ranks among the top ten nations most susceptible to climate change, as per the Climate Risk Index. This vulnerability is evident through extreme weather events leading to significant damages and societal disruptions. Recent heatwaves in Pakistan, with temperatures surpassing 120 F, have led to fatalities, flooding, and infrastructure damage.
Despite monsoon showers, such extreme heat persists, underlying the grave climate challenges Pakistan faces. Pakistan’s exposure to climate risks has already resulted in a staggering 10,000 deaths and losses amounting to $4 billion. Such statistics signal the potential for climate-related conflict, especially arising from resource scarcity. Such disasters only aggravate existing tensions among conflicting groups. Industries in Pakistan, primarily dependent on natural resources, propel its economic growth. However, this often comes at the expense of the environment, leading to a persistent cycle of resource strain, degradation, and subsequently, poverty.
The Anthropocene era’s ontological shift necessitates rethinking global environmental security themes. There’s an opportunity for Pakistan to align its defense and environmental strategies, ensuring comprehensive security. Environmental security, at its core, requires reshaping societal norms through grassroots activism, awareness, and optimism. Pakistan, with its vibrant youth demographic, has a unique chance to harness this power to inspire change. Analysts globally aim to revive a sustainable planetary system by addressing disruptions like climate change. Pakistan can exploit modern tools, technologies, and collaborative approaches as opportunities to counter evolving environmental threats. Given the intrinsic link between climate challenges and national security, Pakistan has the opportunity to frame climate disasters as national emergencies. This reframing can ensure a holistic approach to conflict prevention and guaranteeing stability.
In summary, environmental security isn’t just about ensuring a stable environment but also about recognizing and mitigating threats that can destabilize societies, economies, and nations. While the path forward is riddled with challenges, opportunities for positive change are abundant. By harnessing these opportunities and addressing threats head-on, we can strive for a sustainable and secure future. Pakistan’s environmental security landscape is marked by significant threats but also presents numerous opportunities. By leveraging its societal strengths, collaborating internationally, and reframing its policy perspectives, Pakistan can navigate the challenges of the 21st century, ensuring both environmental and national security.
Research Scholar and Academic; Ph.D. in Political Science at the University of Pisa, Italy. Dr. Usman has participated in various national and international conferences and published 30 research articles in international journals.