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


  • Rymn J. Parsons

    () (1221 Candlewood Drive, Virginia Beach, VA 23464, USA)


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Rymn J. Parsons, 2011. "Strengthening Sovereignty: Security and Sustainability in an Era of Climate Change," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 3(9), pages 1-36, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:3:y:2011:i:9:p:1416-1451:d:13772

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Good, David H. & Reuveny, Rafael, 2006. "The fate of Easter Island: The limits of resource management institutions," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(3), pages 473-490, June.
    2. Rafael Reuveny & John W. Maxwell, "undated". "Conflict and Renewable Resources," Working Papers 2004-26, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy.
    3. Sanjeev Khagram & William Clark & Dana Firas Raad, 2003. "From the Environment and Human Security to Sustainable Security and Development," Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 4(2), pages 289-313.
    4. Reuveny, Rafael & Decker, Christopher S., 2000. "Easter Island: historical anecdote or warning for the future?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 271-287, November.
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    More about this item


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

    JEL classification:

    • Q - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics
    • Q0 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General
    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q3 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products


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