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1 FOREWORD by P.J . Simmons, Editor J ust over two years ago, then U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Madeleine K. Albright argued that “environmental degradation is not simply an irritation, but a real threat to our national security.” As Secretary of State, Ms. Albright has already indicated that she intends to build upon the pathbreaking initia- tive of her predecessor, Warren Christopher, to make environmental issues “part of the mainstream of American foreign policy.” On Earth Day 1997, Albright issued the State Department’s first annual report on “Environmen- tal Diplomacy: the Environment and U.S. Foreign Policy.” In it, Secretary Albright asserted that global environ- mental damage “threatens the health of the American people and the future of our economy” and that “environ- mental problems are often at the heart of the political and economic challenges we face around the world.” Noting that “we have moved beyond the Cold War definition of the United States’ strategic interests,” Vice President Gore argued the Department’s report “documents an important turning point in U.S. foreign policy— a change the President and I strongly support.” Similar sentiments expressed by officials in the United States and abroad indicate the growing interest in the interactions among environmental degradation, natural re- source scarcities, population dynamics, national interests and security.* The breadth and diversity of views and initiatives represented in this issue of the Environmental Change and Security Project Report reflect the advances in research, contentious political debates and expanding parameters of this important field of academic and policy inquiry. As a neutral forum for discussion, the Report includes articles asserting strong connections between environment and security as well as more skeptical analyses. In this issue, Kenneth Keller cautions against defining national security (and the term, “environment”) too broadly. Recognizing the importance of population variables for the environmental problematique, Robert Engelman and Dennis Pirages explore crucial demographic dynamics and assumptions while laying the groundwork for more detailed population-environment discussions in future issues. Katrina Rogers advocates closer examina- tion of cooperative as well as conflictual responses to environmental degradation and depletion, then turns to the role of an often neglected actor in the environment and security realm: the private sector. And finally, Canadian scholar Franklyn Griffiths offers an outside observer’s assessment of the U.S. environment and secu- rity discourse while proposing to put the environmental security concept to the test in the “Missing Arctic Waters.” Let me highlight several new features in this third issue of the Report. To help bring the latest academic research to the policy community, we include a series of “Special Reports” on research findings as well as de- tailed rapporteurs’ reports from several U.S. and international conferences. The updated bibliography of rel- evant literature has a new section on population-environment-security dynamics. And as always, the Report includes: excerpts from statements by U.S. public officials and institutions; reviews and descriptions of recently published articles and books; summaries of Wilson Center meetings; an expanded list of related internet sites; and details about many U.S. and international scholarly, NGO and government initiatives. We have listed con- tact information to facilitate links among individuals and groups engaged in complementary endeavors. As the listings and information are not fully comprehensive, we would greatly appreciate your continued submissions of relevant information and additions for future issues. We hope you find the issue helpful and look forward to receiving your comments and contributions. * See the “Official Statements” section on pages 110-125 for excerpts from remarks by Albright, Christopher, Gore and others. See the Spring 1996 edition for details on the Christopher initiative. The complete text of the State Department’s “Environmental Diplomacy” report is available on the Internet at: http://www.state.gov/www/global/oes/envir.html.


FOREWORDby P.J . Simmons, Editor

Just over two years ago, then U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Madeleine K. Albrightargued that “environmental degradation is not simply an irritation, but a real threat to our national security.”

As Secretary of State, Ms. Albright has already indicated that she intends to build upon the pathbreaking initia-tive of her predecessor, Warren Christopher, to make environmental issues “part of the mainstream of Americanforeign policy.” On Earth Day 1997, Albright issued the State Department’s first annual report on “Environmen-tal Diplomacy: the Environment and U.S. Foreign Policy.” In it, Secretary Albright asserted that global environ-mental damage “threatens the health of the American people and the future of our economy” and that “environ-mental problems are often at the heart of the political and economic challenges we face around the world.”Noting that “we have moved beyond the Cold War definition of the United States’ strategic interests,” VicePresident Gore argued the Department’s report “documents an important turning point in U.S. foreign policy—a change the President and I strongly support.” Similar sentiments expressed by officials in the United Statesand abroad indicate the growing interest in the interactions among environmental degradation, natural re-source scarcities, population dynamics, national interests and security.*

The breadth and diversity of views and initiatives represented in this issue of the Environmental Change andSecurity Project Report reflect the advances in research, contentious political debates and expanding parametersof this important field of academic and policy inquiry. As a neutral forum for discussion, the Report includesarticles asserting strong connections between environment and security as well as more skeptical analyses. Inthis issue, Kenneth Keller cautions against defining national security (and the term, “environment”) too broadly.Recognizing the importance of population variables for the environmental problematique, Robert Engelmanand Dennis Pirages explore crucial demographic dynamics and assumptions while laying the groundwork formore detailed population-environment discussions in future issues. Katrina Rogers advocates closer examina-tion of cooperative as well as conflictual responses to environmental degradation and depletion, then turns tothe role of an often neglected actor in the environment and security realm: the private sector. And finally,Canadian scholar Franklyn Griffiths offers an outside observer’s assessment of the U.S. environment and secu-rity discourse while proposing to put the environmental security concept to the test in the “Missing ArcticWaters.”

Let me highlight several new features in this third issue of the Report. To help bring the latest academicresearch to the policy community, we include a series of “Special Reports” on research findings as well as de-tailed rapporteurs’ reports from several U.S. and international conferences. The updated bibliography of rel-evant literature has a new section on population-environment-security dynamics. And as always, the Reportincludes: excerpts from statements by U.S. public officials and institutions; reviews and descriptions of recentlypublished articles and books; summaries of Wilson Center meetings; an expanded list of related internet sites;and details about many U.S. and international scholarly, NGO and government initiatives. We have listed con-tact information to facilitate links among individuals and groups engaged in complementary endeavors. As thelistings and information are not fully comprehensive, we would greatly appreciate your continued submissionsof relevant information and additions for future issues. We hope you find the issue helpful and look forward toreceiving your comments and contributions.

* See the “Official Statements” section on pages 110-125 for excerpts from remarks by Albright, Christopher, Gore and others. See theSpring 1996 edition for details on the Christopher initiative. The complete text of the State Department’s “Environmental Diplomacy”report is available on the Internet at: http://www.state.gov/www/global/oes/envir.html.





Kenneth H. Keller5


Franklyn Griffiths15


Katrina S. Rogers29


Dennis Pirages37


Robert Engelman47



Alexander Carius, Sebastian Oberthür, Melanie Kemper, Detlef SprinzEcologic - Centre for International and European Environmental Research, Berlin



Rohit Burman, Kelly Kirschner, Elissa McCarterSchool of Foreign Service, Georgetown University



Nathan Ruff, Robert Chamberlain, Alexandra CousteauSchool of Foreign Service, Georgetown University



Sophie Chou, Ross Bezark, Anne WilsonSchool of Foreign Service, Georgetown University



Michelle Leighton Schwartz and Heather HansonNatural Heritage Institute





William J. Clinton 110Albert Gore, Jr. 110Madeleine K. Albright 111Warren Christopher 112William J. Perry 112John Deutch 113Strobe Talbott 115Timothy E. Wirth 117Sherri Wasserman Goodman 119Eileen B. Claussen 121John Gibbons 121Mark Hambley 122

DoD-DoE-EPA Memorandum of Understanding 124


Book ReviewsFighting for Survival 126Building Bridges 127The Environmental Trap 127The Betrayal of Science and Reason 128National Defense and the Environment 130

What’s New in Periodicals 132


Environment and U.S. National 136 Security Interests: Newly Independent States and Central and Eastern Europe

Zbigniew BrzezinskiStephen FlanaganRobert HutchingsWilliam NitzeDavid Sandalow

Environmental Warfare: 145 Manipulating the Environment for Hostile Purposes

Arthur Westing

Environment and U.S. National 150 Security Interests: People’s Republic of China

Jack GoldstoneRonald MontapertoStanley Roth

Strengthening Compliance with International 156 Environmental Agreements

Harold K. JacobsonEdith Brown Weiss

The DoD-DoE-EPA Environmental 162 Security Plan

Abraham HaspelAlan HechtGary Vest

U.S. Environmental Priorities and 167 National Interests in China, Eastern Europe and the Newly Independent States

Robert Kaiser

Genetic Resources, National Interests 174 and Security

Thomas E. LovejoyGeorge M. Milne

Environmental and Health Problems 180 in the Former Soviet Union: Do They Matter to the United States?

Murray Feshbach

The Environment in U.S. Foreign Policy 186The Honorable Warren ChristopherThomas E. Lovejoy


Non-Governmental Activities 194Governmental Activities 206Academic and Professional Meetings 214Rapporteurs’ Reports 220Internet Sites and Resources 229Bibliographic Guide to the Literature 234



The time has come to unpackage the environment. In the three and a half decades since environmentalproblems first began to command public attention, they have moved from the periphery to stage center.No longer discussed only at gatherings of the converted, environmental issues are part of centrist politi-

cal campaigns, the subject of major international conferences, a factor in trade negotiations and an element inthe strategic plans of multinational corporations. While this attention has led to some notable successes, actionshave fallen well short of needs. The question now is how to transform spotty progress and modest steps into amore consistent pattern of political support for environmental concerns, how to move from the wide recogni-tion that a problem exists to a public consensus that it is important. It is this question that now dominatesdiscussions among environmentalists. The strategies proposed appear increasingly to have two elements: first,to give even more visibility to the environment per se by creating national and international institutions devotedexclusively to studying and promoting its health; second, to identify environmental interests with other inter-ests—as an aspect of national security, for example.

I would argue that the term itself has become too broad and overburdened to be useful in setting policy orin guiding specific governmental action. There is even a question about whether “the environment” continuesto be an effective umbrella for scientific investigation. The argument here rests on the notion that the strategyfor drawing attention to a problem may actually be counterproductive when it comes to finding solutions to it.

Moreover, the unbounded expansion of the concept of national security to include all threats to the well-being of a nation’s people renders the term meaningless in an operational sense. There is certainly room forreformulating the concept, but that reformulation should not be cast as a broad expansion of what “security” istaken to mean. Instead, it should focus on identifying those environmental threats that may lead to traditionalsecurity problems and those that can be responded to most effectively by military organizations.

By avoiding the temptation to label a confusingly broad category of problems with a ready-made, if slightlyill-fitting, title, we may actually contribute to a larger goal: seeing our vital interests as something broader thannational security and the tools available to us to protect those vital interests as necessarily more nuanced thanmilitary action.


Most people would date the emergence of the environmental movement into relatively broad public con-sciousness from the 1962 publication of Rachel Carson’s classic book, The Silent Spring, which decried the exces-sive use of pesticides.1 Eight years later, the first Earth Day celebrations took place and, in 1972, the first U.N.-sponsored Conference on the Human Environment was held in Stockholm.

In those early days, environmentalism was synonymous with a rather narrow concept of conservation—theprotection of nature—and the major threat was pollution. What is “natural” was distinguished from what isman-made or synthetic. “Chemicals” referred to those substances that people “made” (or industrial societiesexploited, such as hydrocarbons), and, chemistry notwithstanding, it was clearly not a term meant to includeproteins or lipids or carbohydrates or, for that matter, water, air or natural toxins. Technology was “appropri-ate” when it was unobtrusive: E. F. Schumacher’s Small Is Beautiful was required reading. The StockholmConference consciously excluded “development” from its title.

Unpackaging the Environment

Kenneth H. Keller is a professor at the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota anda senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. This article is reprinted with permission from the Fall 1996 issue of theWorld Policy Journal.

by Kenneth H. Keller


In short, the environmental movement was coher-ent but driven more by strongly held values than byscientific or economic analysis, an ethos largely aes-thetic and moral, perhaps even spiritual. However,although it was relatively coherent in its ideology, itmade no pretense to being a central force on the worldstage. “Think globally, act locally,” René Dubos’s fa-mous phrase, was its call to action and the movementwas more or less marginal.


Much has changed in the intervening years, withscience, technology, demographics, economics andpolitics each playing a role. First, science. Our under-standing of the effects of humans on their surround-ings has grown with our understanding of the sur-roundings themselves. Ecology has come into its ownas a natural science. Now increasingly quantitativerather than descriptive or value-laden, it is connectedto molecular biology and microbiology, to geochemis-try and geophysics, with sophisticated models andmeasurements to support hypotheses. Ecological stud-ies have given us a greaterappreciation of the role ofbiodiversity in the survivalof regional biota (plant andanimal life) and helped us tounderstand the distinctionsbetween tropical forests andboreal forests, the role of sea-sonal wetlands and floodplains, the importance andfragility of coral reefs andArctic ecosystems—and theconcomitant dangers ofsuch phenomena as defores-tation, desertification, natu-ral resource exploitation anddam building.

During these three de-cades, atmospheric chemists and physicists first pre-dicted and then measured the effect of chlorofluoro-carbons (CFCs) on stratospheric ozone depletion. Theypostulated and largely came to agreement on the real-ity of global warming, and they detected and came tounderstand acid rain, smog and other aerosol phenom-ena. Medical scientists, epidemiologists and demog-raphers offered evidence or hypotheses for connectionsbetween emerging and reemerging diseases—from theEbola virus to malaria and dengue fever—and habitatdestruction; between environmental degradation andreductions in life expectancy and between power lineelectromagnetic fields and morbidity in children.

Much of the broadened attention to the field hascome about because our measurements have becomemore sensitive and sophisticated; satellite-based instru-

ments give us extraordinarily detailed informationabout land cover and land use, about weather and tem-perature, about fish populations and the health of coralreefs. High altitude balloons help us determine atmo-spheric composition. What were once undetectabletrace chemicals can now be measured easily, and thepower of computers has allowed us to analyze hugevolumes of data in short periods of time. Thus, sciencehas vastly increased the range of problems that havecome to be included under the rubric of the environ-ment.

Technological advances during these three decadeshave played a different, but equally important, role inbroadening the range of problems labeled environmen-tal—as well as in raising the stakes and forcing on usthe inescapable trade-offs between economic develop-ment and environmental stress. Polymers, or “plas-tics”—which can survive centuries without degrad-ing—are now ubiquitous and have made waste dis-posal a major issue. Our waste products now includemore toxic and radioactive materials, and we need toworry not only about where to put them, but also whichcountries and which groups have the technical capac-

ity to manage them safely overgeological time scales—an is-sue growing ever more seriousas rich countries attempt to ridthemselves of the problem byexporting it to those hard cur-rency-starved countries in thedeveloping world least able tohandle the wastes. The “greenrevolution”—raising food pro-duction without increasing theland under cultivation (sincethere is no more to cultivate)through the liberal use of fer-tilizers and pesticides—has ex-acerbated the problem of pol-lutants and increased the en-ergy necessary to produce

food. The growing global appetite for energy in allforms is the most intractable problem of all. For, atbottom, to increase people’s standard of living, we re-quire increases in productivity. Technology is the le-ver and energy runs the system.

But all of the practical energy sources now avail-able generate environmental stresses. Improving theefficiency of the system, the energy it takes to producea dollar of product, helps. Using energy sources thatgenerate fewer pollutants also helps. But for the fore-seeable future, the need to increase the standard of liv-ing of four-fifths of the world’s population will lead tosignificantly increased energy consumption and theproduction of wastes that will warm and foul the at-mosphere and the waters of the earth.

How much energy consumption takes place de-

Features - Kenneth H. Keller

By avoiding the temptation to labela confusingly broad category ofproblems with a ready-made, ifslightly ill-fitting, title, we may

actually contribute to a larger goal:seeing our vital interests as some-thing broader than national secu-rity and the tools available to us toprotect those vital interests as nec-essarily more nuanced than mili-

tary action


pends directly on how many people there are to sup-port. The equation is simple: the energy it takes toproduce a unit of product, times the amount of prod-uct consumed per person per year, times the numberof people on the earth, equals the total amount of en-ergy used per year. Thus, the third factor that has ex-panded the scope and seriousness of environmentalproblems since the 1960s and 1970s is populationgrowth.

From 1970 to 1990, the population of the world in-creased by 1.5 billion people, or 43 percent. Withoutany improvement in standard of living, this would haverequired a 43 percent increase in energy consumption.In fact, energy consumption doubled during the twodecades.

The centrality of population growth has been a keyfactor in an important shift in the international politi-cal debate about the environment over these two de-cades. In its simplest terms, overconsumption by theNorth has brought us to the brink of crisis, but popula-tion growth in the South, coupled with an improvedstandard of living (a legitimate aspiration), will takeus over the brink.

The issue is joined in the search for solutions to theproblem: Who is to blame? Who should pay? Whowill benefit? Where should changes take place? I willreturn to these questions later on.


A second demographic issue altering the environ-mental agenda is the shift of population from rural tourban settings. The development of urban centers with10 to 20 million people in Asia and Latin America hasled to a new concern about localized atmospheric prob-lems—smog, particulate matter, oxides of nitrogen andsulfur—that affect urban health. Urban sanitation in-frastructure has become a major issue, with outbreaksof cholera in cities like Lima, tales of children playingin open sewers in Africa and the threat of drinkingwater shortages in much of urban China. Furthermore,the separation of people from the sources of food hascreated a need for highways and railroads, the construc-tion of which removes arable land from cultivation andthe operation of which increases energy consumption.

Each of these developments has increased publicawareness of environmental issues. This increasedawareness has itself been an important goal for envi-ronmentalists as they seek to convert an issue that hadonce been marginal to one that is central.

Less planned have been the changes in the politi-cal significance of “the environment”—and the relatedownership of the issues. New revelations about aspectsof the environmental crisis or new emphases on therelative importance of its many facets have either at-tracted the political attention of a different cluster ofgroups or forced a change in the political strategy of

those with long-standing interest in these problems.In the early days of the movement, environmental

groups were either the societal dropouts of the 1960sor the Nature Conservancy/Audubon Society crowd—caricatured as a wealthy elite with more concern forthe snail darter than for the desperate of the earth. Theformer group had little political effect; the latter didachieve some political successes through treaties suchas the Convention on International Trade in Endan-gered Species and the international Law of the Sea (notyet ratified by the United States). The thrust of theirconcerns, however, led most developing countries todismiss the movement as no more than the rich wish-ing to preserve the undeveloped regions of the worldas large zoological gardens.

As more was learned about environmental effectswithin industrialized societies, the Green movementarose. For the Greens, the environment served as proofof the destructiveness of market-driven industrial so-cieties, which were controlled by multinational corpo-rations for whom the profit motive displaced any so-cial concern. Environmental issues became inseparablefrom broader social issues and, in a very real politicalsense, were held hostage to those broader issues. Thiswas not a time in which people sought solutions to en-vironmental problems. Instead, they sought confron-tations.

But, over time, the Greens have lost control of themovement. Other political agendas, as well as econom-ics and the sheer magnitude of the issues, have drawnthe attention of other constituencies.


As the reality of global warming and the damag-ing effects of chlorofluorocarbons became clearer, as thecosts of uncontrolled population growth became con-vincingly obvious, it became harder and harder for thedeveloping world to dismiss the environment as a richman’s movement. On the other hand, the environmentbecame an ideal vehicle for resurrecting in the 1980sand 1990s a failed gambit of the 1970s: the notion of a“new economic world order.”

In the earlier decade, developing nations had ar-gued that the growth in productivity and the economicsuccess of the North had been paid for by the exploita-tion of the South. Therefore, the South was entitled toreimbursement. The North, on the other hand, arguedthat its successes were the result of its own ingenuityand hard work. Not only were its accomplishmentsnot dependent on exploitation of the South, but theSouth was free to achieve the same thing on its own.Hence, no payment was justified.

The environmental facts appeared to undercut theNorth’s arguments. The accumulation of carbon diox-ide in the atmosphere, which put the world under pres-sure to constrain further expansion in (and even to re-

Unpackaging the Environment


duce) the use of cheap sources of energy based on car-bon-laden fossil fuels, such as coal, had been entirelyfor the benefit of the North. Now the South was beingasked to pay the price, either by constraining futureeconomic growth or by bearing the higher costs formore benign or more efficient energy sources.

Furthermore, the South was being asked not toburn its forests, because the additional release of car-bon dioxide would seriously exacerbate global warm-ing and also destroy habitat, thus threateningbiodiversity by causing the extinction of untold (be-cause unknown) numbers of flora and fauna. How-ever, the South noted, the North had already cut downa significant fraction of its own forests in order to de-velop its cities and feed its population, another bit ofevidence that the North expected the South to pay theprice of the earlier developments.2

Finally, the arguments made in the North for theimportance of preserving biodiversity were given a dif-ferent interpretation in the developing world. The in-dustrialized nations argued that the South’s flora werea rich source of pharmaceuticals and that biodiversityprovided insurance against the inexorable transientvictories of one species over another, which rendered aparticular food plant vulnerable to attack or a particu-lar microbe invulnerable to an existing drug.

But while the North pointed out the value of theSouth’s biota, the South noted that it had never receivedany compensation for the germ plasm that had beenremoved from its lands, converted into useful prod-ucts and patented and marketed. Thus the discussionof biodiversity became entwined with a discussion ofthe legitimate profits of biotechnology.

These issues, primarily economic and political,dominated the U.N. Conference on the Environmentand Development (emphasis added) held in Rio deJaneiro in 1992. The terms of reference, the discussion,and the outcome were all shaded by considerations ofwho was to blame and who was to pay—which largelydetermined the position of many of the participantson the proposed conventions, both those agreed uponand those postponed.3


The Greens have also been a victim of some of theirown successes. As the first laws regulating the envi-ronment began to be adopted, their hold on environ-mental issues was eroded by the growing interest ofgovernments and large corporations both in levelingthe playing field among trading nations with respectto the costs of meeting environmental standards, andin lowering the overall costs of environmental compli-ance by more creative and less expensive approachesthan end-of-pipeline cleanup for reducing pollution.In the business community, large corporations like 3M,Dow and Dupont recognized that their sophisticated

research organizations gave them a great advantageover small and medium-sized firms (both in the UnitedStates and abroad) in devising new processing ap-proaches that not only reduced environment-relatedcosts, but actually reduced overall production costs.Therefore, it made sense for them to push for rigorousand well-enforced environmental standards, harmo-nized across all of the countries in which they did busi-ness.

The governments of industrialized countries, hav-ing entered into a number of international agreements,such as the Montreal Protocols on Substances that De-plete the Ozone Layer, the trade in endangered speciesconvention and certain forestry conventions, have aninterest in ensuring that the obligations of those agree-ments are being met. Hence, environmental monitor-ing has become an intelligence function.

Furthermore, those countries facing domestic pres-sures for greater environmental regulation have beenmotivated to push for international harmonization. TheUruguay Round of the General Agreements on Tariffsand Trade largely avoided environmental questions,but there seems little doubt that the World Trade Orga-nization will have to tackle a number of these issues inthe future.

With the circle of parties interested in the environ-ment continuing to grow, the cohesion of the environ-mental movement itself has been affected, further loos-ening the connection between environmental issuesand the more radical social/political agenda that typi-fied the Greens, particularly in Europe. A clearly cen-trist group of nongovernmental organizations hasemerged, including the Natural Resources DefenseCouncil, the World Resources Institute and others,whose goals and strategies differ from those of the Si-erra Club, the Public Interest Research Groups andEarth First! The split was evident in the negotiationsassociated with the North American Free Trade Agree-ment. The more radical environmental groups opposedthe agreement; the more centrist groups saw an oppor-tunity to use the negotiations to advance the environ-mental agenda through sidebar agreements.4


Taken together, the enormous broadening andshifting ownership of the issues that make up “the en-vironmental problematique” have clearly moved itfrom peripheral to central status. In the growing num-ber of issues, almost everyone has found (or exploited)a connection. But although recognition and concernare wide, commitment is not deep, either within theUnited States or across the world. In poll after poll,taken at the time of U.S. national elections, almost ev-eryone expresses concern about environmental issues,but almost no one is willing to pay for dealing withthem.

Features - Kenneth H. Keller


Four years after the Rio Conference, only a smallfraction of the money promised by the industrializednations for the Global Environmental Facility has ac-tually been collected or spent. Newspaper articles onrecent meetings of the U.N. group established to moni-tor progress on commitments made in 1992 in Rio tellof failed commitments and lack of follow-through.Several of the developed nations have already an-nounced that they will not meet their year 2000 goal ofreducing carbon emissions to 1990 levels, and few na-tions in the developing world have shown any seriousinterest in adopting less polluting energy supplies ifany increase in price is involved.

The fuel efficiencies of American automobiles, af-ter improving for years in response to supply short-ages triggered by the oil crises of the 1970s, have be-gun to creep up again despite the adverse environmen-tal effects associated with carbon emissions. Indeed,oil companies have found it possible to essentially ig-nore environmental pressures in creating scenarios offuture consumption. Over the last two decades, en-ergy efficiency in the industrialized world has increasedby about 30 percent. But this has exactly balanced theincreasing need for energy. Actual energy use has notdeclined.

Indeed, one might reasonably conclude that in-creases in energy efficiency were driven more by thedesire to avoid the capital cost of investing in new en-ergy-generating capacity than to reduce environmen-tal stress. Legislation to slow global warming such asthe carbon tax—proposal by the Clinton Administra-tion to tax fuel based on how much carbon dioxide itwill add to the atmosphere when burned—failed. Acompromise, to encourage general energy conservationby taxing the energy or BTU content of all fuels, alsofailed. On the other hand, the oil depletion allowance,a credit to “compensate” companies for the oil they nolonger have after they take it from their wells and sellit, continues to subsidize and stimulate the use of oil.

It is a small wonder that environmentalists seekways to convince publics and politicians alike that en-vironmental concerns are more than an aesthetic mat-ter and that environmental degradation is more thanan issue of quality of life. And it is easy to see whysome adopt a strategy that emphasizes the most direconsequences and equates environmental issues withrisks that people understand. However, the usefulnessof such an approach is highly questionable.

The problem is that the very process that hasbrought the environmental problematique to such alevel of public recognition—the inclusion of a vast ar-ray of issues—has blurred it to a point that it is imprac-tical to put all these issues in the same category or tochoose (or justify) a single approach for dealing withthem.

The bewildering array of issues also leaves toomuch room for political mischief at both extremes. At

one extreme, all environmental problems are dismissedby disparaging references to ones that are viewed tobe of minor importance. The remark by RichardDarman, former director of the Office of Managementand Budget, in a speech at Harvard—“We have notfought the wars of the twentieth century to make theworld safe for green vegetables”—comes to mind. Atthe other extreme, draconian action to prevent or cor-rect certain problems is justified by suggesting a con-nection to more serious ones.

Nowhere is the problem of the multiplicity of tenu-ously related issues more evident than in Agenda 21,the 294-page document produced at the Rio Confer-ence as a road map for environmental research andmanagement. Its 14 chapters and hundreds of subsec-tions cover almost the entire range of human activity(although it is an interesting reflection on the politicsof the Rio Conference that there is no mention of popu-lation management). Some of the issues, such as man-agement of solid wastes or sewage-related problems,are essentially local and domestic. Some, such as oceanwaste dumping or transboundary movement of airpollutants, are clearly international, although fre-quently focused on a particular region. And some, ofcourse, such as greenhouse gas accumulation, are trulyglobal.


By unpackaging the environment—decoupling theissues—we would make it easier to understand howeach fits with the political, economic, and social valuesand priorities of the country. We would create the flex-ibility to deal with them in different ways, to associatethem with the foreign or domestic policy areas to whichthey most closely relate and to assign each of them tothe agency of government most suited to handlingthem. The exercise may leave certain environmentalissues adrift—at least in terms of government respon-sibility and action—but it also seems likely to promotepractical progress in dealing with many others.

The task of separating environmental problemsfrom each other is not a trivial one. Classifying prob-lems as “global,” “regional” or “domestic” is useful,but it is only a beginning. It is certainly true that smogin Bangkok or the contamination of the canals of Veniceare domestic problems, that accidents like those atChernobyl have major international implications in theregions in which they occur, and that ozone depletionin the stratosphere is a global concern.

Being clear about the distinctions can be helpful intransforming the environmental agenda into a foreignpolicy agenda. But not all problems fit neatly in a singlecategory. For example, when China burns high-sulfurcoal, the carbon dioxide released to the stratosphere isof concern to the world; on the other hand, the oxidesof sulfur and nitrogen, also released, that drift over

Unpackaging the Environment


Korea and Japan are regional problems, and the fineparticles that pollute the air near the power plants areprimarily China’s problem. An oil spill that contami-nates Russian rivers is a domestic Russian problem—unless or until the oil runs into the Arctic Ocean.

The distinctions are instructive. Consider China’scoal burning: from the global perspective of concernabout carbon dioxide emissions, it might well be in theinterest of the United States to subsidize technologicalinvestments that would diminish China’s dependenceon coal by increasing the efficiency of China’s energyproduction or by enabling China to substitute otherprimary energy sources. However, there is less reasonto underwrite the cost of clean coal technologies thatmay reduce oxide and particulate emissions but donothing to cut down on the carbon dioxide released.That point is usually lost in current discussions.

From this same perspective, the Three GorgesProject—the plan for a massive dam on the YangtzeRiver to produce hydroelectric power for rural China—would actually serve U.S. interests by reducing globalcarbon dioxide emissions. Nonetheless, the UnitedStates has opposed the project because it would haveclear negative consequences for the Chinese people,flooding huge areas, disturbing the local ecologicalbalance and displacing hundreds of thousands ofpeople.

Of course, the question of whether a problem isdomestic, regional or global—or even primarily of en-vironmental concern—should not entirely determine itsinterest to the United States. Many would argue, I be-lieve correctly, that we need to be concerned about thedestruction of the Aral Sea or the reduction of life ex-pectancy in Russia, about the loss of arable land inChina and that country’s consequent inability to feedits people, about desertification in Africa that may leadto large population migrations. Even though these aredomestic or intranational problems, they may have asignificant effect on political stability and the health ofthe world’s economy. Similarly, an outbreak of chol-era in Peru or Ebola virus in a central African countryis important, given the movement of people and goodsthroughout the world.

On the other hand, all global environmental con-cerns are not necessarily national concerns—or, at least,not high-priority national interests. The concern overthe survival of tropical plant species because they mayhave medicinal or agricultural value is an aspect ofbiodiversity that might legitimately be characterizedas an important national interest, but it would be hardto argue that the survival of elephants, whales, or dol-phins, each highly developed animals well up in thefood chain, belongs in the same category, even thoughtheir survival may be important to many of us.


A political taxonomy of environmental issues, then,would need to have a number of dimensions. In geo-graphic terms, it might well begin with dividing theproblems into domestic, regional and global categories.It would have to account for the fact that the origin andthe effect of a particular problem might fall in different(or multiple) categories, a circumstance that stronglyinfluences the policy options available and the strate-gies for international negotiation.

Furthermore, the time scale of the evolution of eachproblem is a major factor that should be reflected inthe taxonomy. Those that develop over a very longperiod present significant challenges to action. Theyhave little of the current political cachet associated withurgent problems, and the very uncertainty of futureevents leads the general public to assume that someway will be found to avoid the negative consequences.Ironically, problems that take a long time to developare frequently those that take longest to correct, if theyare correctable at all, as our current experience withozone depletion demonstrates. Therefore, they are theones that actually need urgent action.

Finally, we need a way of gauging the relative im-portance of problems in terms of national interests,which may lead to decoupling issues that would beclosely linked in environmental terms or, more to thepoint, linked in the view of those with deep concernsabout the relation of humans to nature. This has cer-tainly been a problem in assessing various aspects ofbiodiversity, but it also arises in a number of othercases—in distinguishing the problem of deforestationfrom that of the preservation of virgin forests or thesurvival of the culture of native peoples, for example,or in separating the issue of overfishing from that oftrapping dolphins in tuna nets.

Analyses of this kind are valuable in forcing a cer-tain discipline on environmental discussions, requir-ing at the very least that a qualitative effort be made toestablish connections between the science, aesthetics,ethos, and language of environmental issues and theworld of policy and politics. It allows one to argue byanalogy, either by establishing environmental catego-ries that parallel such familiar ones as territorial integ-rity, security, economic well-being, health, opportunity,human rights, or social stability—or by subsuming in-dividual environmental issues within those categoriesthemselves.

In fact, one quickly learns that it is neither neces-sary nor useful for environmental issues, once disag-gregated, to be classified separately from the traditionalcategories of national interest. They cover the samerange and can be described in similar terms. In thelanguage of mathematics, they map easily into the ex-isting categories.

But as others have discovered in attempting this

Features - Kenneth H. Keller


“back to basics” approach to reformulating the foreignpolicy agenda in the wake of the Cold War, the exer-cise has grave limitations. It tends to fail in three ways:First, the notion of what constitutes a national interestis far less objective than proponents suggest and is de-termined as much by taste and symbolism as byrealpolitik. Second, the interests identified are of suchvariant character that it is all but impossible to put theminto some order of priority to distinguish the “vital”from the merely “important.” Third, national interests,no matter how well-defined and ordered, offer littlepractical guidance for action—there may be little wecan do about the time bomb that is the population al-ready born, no matter how vital the issue, and a greatdeal that we might do to deal with the lesser problemof overfishing the world’s oceans.


To what extent is the rubric of national security auseful way of describing the most serious environmen-tal problems? It is certainly attractive. Is it valid? Morequestionable. Useful? Most doubtful.

There is an interesting dynamic at work in the pro-posed marriage of the two. At the same time that someenvironmentalists are seeking to have environmentalissues legitimized by inclusion in the traditional cat-egory of security, another group, historically associatedwith the security enterprise, is hoping to use such non-traditional issues as the environment to define an ap-propriate and supportable mission in a post-Cold Warworld. One need not dismiss either effort cynically,but it is important to examine whether joining theseissues serves a useful conceptual or operational pur-pose.

One advantage of traditional categories is that theyare not usually subjected to close scrutiny; we expectthat time will make them slightly obsolete or inaccu-rate, but we also assume that flexibility in interpreta-tion will compensate for that. On the other hand, whenwe redefine or change categories, the changes are ex-amined more closely for their meaning; we want tocompare the old and the new and to understand thesignificance and the justification for the redefinitions.

Thus, the question is what else might reasonablybe included in regional (or national) security that is notpurely defense related. A minimalist’s answer mightbe to consider national security issues to be those thatdeal with violent physical threats and actions by onegroup or individual toward another: war between na-tions, terrorism, ethnic conflict, sabotage and violentcrime. Another, obviously broader, interpretationwould lead to the inclusion of all sorts of violentthreats—those previously mentioned, plus such natu-ral disasters as floods and earthquakes or man-madedisasters, such as Chernobyl or Bhopal.

It is only a small further step to add threats of any

kind to the physical well-being of a nation’s populace—including epidemics, food shortages, mercury in fishor asbestos in schools. And, with a last leap, it couldbe argued that those things that threaten the economicwell-being of a nationindirectly threaten itsphysical survival andare, therefore, also na-tional security issues.

Each of these argu-ments has, in fact, beenmade. Taken on its ownterms, each has somelogic. But, of course, ifeverything is included,then the category of na-tional security loses itsmeaning and providesno useful operationalguidance for deciding what institutions or what instru-ments can or should be used to address such a range ofissues.

A possible and attractive middle ground would beto approach the definition of national security opera-tionally—that is, in terms of the kinds of structuresneeded to deal with the threats the definition covers.Using such an approach, we would include under na-tional security those threats to a nation’s people thatmust be dealt with in a short time frame and that canonly be dealt with by large, highly organized opera-tions with sophisticated information and communica-tion networks, well-established chains of command andthe capacity to react wherever the need occurs.

Obviously, this would include the traditionalthreats of war between nations as well as the current,somewhat broader range of threats to peace cited above.Some cogent arguments have been made that a num-ber of regional environmental issues may well lead tosuch threats. Desertification, resource scarcity—par-ticularly of renewable resources such as water, firewoodand food—or local pollution giving rise to serioushealth problems can destabilize governments, initiatelarge-scale population migration and lead to interstateand intrastate violence and warfare.

But the definition would also give the military andintelligence communities the responsibility for dealingwith a group of natural and man-made disasters (a rela-tively well-defined set of issues that seems likely togrow in frequency and magnitude as populations in-crease and as industrialization proceeds), as well as en-vironmental warfare or sabotage.

Such assignments have actually been undertakenon a number of occasions in recent years. Military unitshave been called upon, to aid in setting up refugeecamps, in food distribution, in moving masses of peopleand in delivering medical supplies. In the past severalmonths, U.S. intelligence satellite observations helped

Unpackaging the Environment

Environmental issuespermeate most humanactivities, and envi-ronmental questionsshould be raised asoften and as ubiqui-tously as political,

economic and publichealth questions


Russia to assess the extent of damage associated withthe Komi oil spill and alerted the British to the impend-ing volcanic eruption on Montserrat, allowing them toevacuate the population of the southern section of theisland.

In the past, national security has been synonymouswith the nation’s most vital interests. Certainly, thathas been a major reason why many would like to treatenvironmental issues as issues of national security. Theapproach suggested here implies a loosening of thatconnection.

National security will undoubtedly continue tosubsume the most urgent issues of national interest—including those related to the environment—but notnecessarily the most vital. For example, the grave con-sequences of global warming, should the most pessi-mistic scenarios turn out to be accurate, might wellexceed in importance the devastation caused by aChernobyl-type accident, or the deliberate fires in theGulf oil fields, or the violation of the international banon the use of CFCs. But the action needed to be takento avoid the threat of global warming is more economicthan military and, therefore, global warming would notbe treated as an issue of national security, although suchissues as the others would be.

Limiting the definition of security in this waywould be salutary in several respects. First, it wouldcall attention to the fact that not all of the new threatsto the survival and well-being of a nation can fit theold categories of foreign policy. Second, and conversely,it would stimulate discussions aimed at convincing thepublic that issues not included under the rubric of na-tional security may nonetheless be of vital national in-terest. Third, it would promote more openness to seek-ing approaches other than military means to serve thevital interests of the nation.


In the end, the key to further progress in dealingwith environmental problems lies in dividing the is-sue into constituent parts and adding it to the agendasof a number of agencies and institutions. Environmen-tal issues permeate most human activities, and envi-ronmental questions should be raised as often and asubiquitously as political, economic and public healthquestions and, indeed, in the context of those otherquestions.

In some cases, this will require overcoming the re-luctance of policymakers to introduce “extraneous”considerations into their missions. For example, manytrade economists object to imposing any environmen-tally motivated constraints on the world trading sys-tem, although some have been grudgingly accepted.5

Energy is another area in which there is resistanceto making environmental factors an important deter-minant of policy. Current U.S. policy, both domestic

and foreign, is driven almost entirely by the desire tomaintain secure access to energy supplies and keep themarket price low. There is little stimulus to encourageshifts in sources of energy and patterns of use, eventhough there are opportunities to simultaneously servethe ends of energy security (by reducing energy con-sumption) and the reduction of greenhouse gas emis-sion.

But in other cases, calling attention to the environ-mental dimension can strengthen the case for action inpolicy areas that have languished in an ideologicallimbo. Population control programs, for example, havebeen treated as little more than an international anddomestic political football for the past few decades. Yet,there is no area in which action would be more cost-effective in serving environmental ends. Moreover,population control is one of the few issues on whichthe industrialized North has a strong position in nego-tiating global climate change agreements.

A similar case can be made for foreign aid, currentlya candidate for America’s most unpopular internationalprogram. As the gradations of national interest in vari-ous environmental problems—domestic, regional, andglobal—are made clearer in the public mind, the prac-tical value of foreign aid may become more readilyapparent; that is, small amounts of official developmentassistance coupled with technology transfer offer thepossibility of trading compliance on global environ-mental issues that are of high priority for the UnitedStates for help with local environmental problems ofgreater interest to the country receiving aid. For ex-ample, the United States is most concerned about cli-mate change, ocean pollution, fishing restraints andforest preservation; developing countries need helpwith maintaining fresh water supplies, developing ef-ficient energy technologies and sanitary systems andending desertification.

Finally, dividing the environmental problematiqueinto encompassable pieces would create multiple own-ership of those pieces by many institutions in the gov-ernment as well as in the private sector. This wouldspread responsibility for dealing with environmentalproblems, allow greater customization in dealing withthem and increase the flexibility to move from policiesbased primarily on regulatory approaches to those thatrely more heavily on incentives, education or techno-logical ingenuity.

For example, the new and very promising field of“industrial metabolism” arose with the realization thatcreative possibilities existed to redesign productionprocesses so that profit margins are increased at thesame time that the production of undesirable wastes isreduced. Rigid comprehensive environmental regu-lation is likely to be less effective in promoting thisapproach than carefully designed Commerce Depart-ment incentives similar to the Baldridge Awards, whichrecognize excellence in manufacturing quality.

Features - Kenneth H. Keller


To give another example, tropical habitat destruc-tion is now suspected as a major factor in viral “host-hopping”—the movement of viruses from nonhumanspecies to humans. That makes it an issue of seriousconcern to U.S. public health agencies and, as much tothe point, an issue likely to command more public at-tention in that context.


Reassessing the international strategic landscapein the wake of the Cold War is no mean task. The rheto-ric comes easily; giving it meaning is more difficult.Many commentators have noted—quite correctly—thatthe old tensions and challenges of international affairsare not likely to disappear and, therefore, the old cat-egories of foreign policy are likely to remain impor-tant. But new issues—and problems related to the en-vironment are certainly among them—will take on in-creasing importance. In understanding them and indealing with them, we need to avoid the twin pitfallsof depending too mechanically on old categories ormoving too quickly to create new ones.

That is the thrust of my argument. There is no “onesize fits all” category to which we can assign the envi-ronment and no single institution that can help us meetthe range of challenges it presents. As we accept thatreality, we will be able to analyze the issues more sub-tly, to fit them into a more textured scheme of politicalcategories and priorities and to craft microstrategiesfor addressing them. In the long run, this approachmay allow us to circumvent the otherwise insurmount-able difficulty of moving the public beyond its presentlevel of broad but shallow concern about the environ-ment.


Despite the many forms that problems of the envi-ronment take, there is a coherent framework withinwhich all of them can be placed.

We live in a thin spherical shell situated betweenthe earth’s core and the expanse of space—the bio-sphere. In thermodynamic terms, it is a closed system;that is, no material enters or leaves the system, althoughenergy can cross its boundaries—from the sun to theearth, from the earth to outer space. Life—both in itsbiological and nonbiological aspects—is, in large part,a collection of processes through which material in thebiosphere is transformed from one form to another,using energy captured from the sun. We transform ma-terials to make the constituents of our bodies and thebuildings, tools, and objects we need or want. We alsodepend on transformations in material to capture thesun’s energy in food, trees, fossil fuels and other formsin which we can actually use it.

True sustainability—a “steady state,” in technical

terms—implies that, over long enough times, materialcycles from “resource” to “useful product” to “waste”and ultimately back again to its original form. If thesystem worked perfectly, these cycles would keep theproportion of material in each form the same even asthe processes of transformation continuously changedmaterial from one form to another. In reality, some ofthe cycles take so long that, in the scale of human life-times, the “raw” materials associated with them are“nonrenewable.” Those whose cycles can occur in amatter of a few years are called “renewable.”

One aspect of sustainability often overlooked, orat least underemphasized, is that energy, too, must notaccumulate but must, instead, cycle through the bio-sphere. It is captured from the sun, used to drive theprocesses of material transformation and released backto the universe. For both material and energy, eachstep in the cycle must be in balance or it will accumu-late in one particular form—with undesirable conse-quences.

From a human perspective, how hard this wholesystem needs to run depends on how many peoplethere are to support and what each person uses (essen-tially, the gross world product per person). As the sys-tem runs harder and harder, bottlenecks develop atdifferent stages in the cycle. Malthus’s worry centeredon our inability to convert resources to useful form—the provision of food for growing numbers. Technol-ogy has been highly successful in coping with that prob-lem, thereby convincing many that the current threatsposed by increasing population and production willalso be dealt with by technology in time.

However, the bottleneck has now largely shiftedto the next step in the cycle—disposing of waste prod-ucts—which, in a technical sense, is vastly more diffi-cult. It means finding ways of ridding the earth of en-ergy that has been degraded into heat, of dispersingand diluting harmful materials that, in the process ofbeing spread over vast areas, become less controllableor manipulable long before they become harmless orof storing and isolating them over periods of time thatexceed the lifetimes of the institutions and systemsdesigned to cope with them. It is this set of problems,and interactions among them, that represents the enor-mously complex and continuously growing challengeto the environment.


1. There are, of course, many antecedents to themodern movement, both scientific and philosophical.Indeed, Carson’s earlier book, The Sea Around Us, pub-lished in 1951, raised the issue of the fragility of theoceans and drew the reader’s attention to the growingdanger of marine waste disposal.

2. This particular argument, while superficially at-tractive and politically useful, is actually flawed. Tropi-

Unpackaging the Environment


cal forests are quite different from boreal forests. Spe-cies are much more confined to localized regions, sothat the destruction of a small fraction of a tropical for-est is more likely to lead to species extinction than cut-ting a similar amount of boreal forest. The trees them-selves—primarily hardwood—grow much moreslowly, so that replacement does not occur as quickly.And the land beneath the trees is much less likely to beuseful for agriculture.

3. The environmentalists—as represented at Rioby a host of nongovernmental organizations—hadmore success in developing Agenda 21, a broad, for-ward-looking document that lays out an extraordinaryrange of environmental problems that will need to beaddressed in the next several decades. Since it com-mitted no one to anything now, there was much greaterlatitude in developing it.

4. There are serious questions about how effectivethose agreements have been thus far, but they are per-haps no more serious than the larger questions abouthow NAFTA is working.

5. For example, trade sanctions associated with theenforcement provisions of the Montreal Protocol on theozone layer, the convention governing trade in endan-gered species and the Basel Convention on the inter-national transfer of hazardous wastes.

Features - Kenneth H. Keller


As the new century approaches, we find the United States seemingly embarked on a transition to a newsecurity praxis or reciprocal interaction of thought and practice. By no means closed to ideas andinformation from abroad or to concepts derived by non-state actors within, the U.S. government shows

signs of adapting to a post-Cold War environment in ways that accentuate pre-existing American inclinations toarticulate and employ extended notions of security. Received thinking which emphasizes the national interest,self-help, the military instrument, and an opposed-forces view of the world now finds itself challenged. Newthinking on security, as Emma Rothschild puts it, extends the frame of reference in fourfold fashion: (1) upwardsfrom the state to the global and planetary level; (2) downwards to the individual, (3) sideways to non-military orcivil concepts of environmental, economic, and social security; and (4) in all directions where responsibility forensuring security is concerned.1 A formidable array of private analysts, NGOs, foundations, think tanks, andofficials as well as a few political leaders have started to generate and, to a far lesser extent, to institutionalizenew ideas about extended security. The result, even at this early point, is a vigorous intellectual and politicalprocess whose complexity cannot but daunt those wanting to estimate where the United States might be headedon matters of security. And yet there is a need to know. Whether or not we happen to approve of state-centeredconceptions of politics, the world’s security praxis will be heavily influenced by the discourse and the policypriorities of the lead state in the international system.

As also occurs with global warming or Russia’s transition to “democracy,” the U.S. move towards an in-creasingly extended security praxis is accompanied by uncertainty as well as complexity. Indeed, the wholeproject has a futuristic air, insofar as it is a purposive venture. To help situate an inquiry that otherwise risksbecoming vaporous, this essay asks whether and if so how the United States might employ new understandingsof security in the management of Arctic waters issues, and in responding even more particularly to the prospectof intensified use of Russia’s Northern Sea Route for the transport of hydrocarbons and other bulk cargo. Here,too, the subject is futuristic in that there is little or no American interest in the circumpolar North. By no meansis this to suggest that the United States is not an Arctic country. Decidedly it is.2 But Americans are quiteunaware of their capacity to act in this part of the world. The Arctic Ocean, for its part, is missing in the Ameri-can view of the globe, and hardly anyone has even heard of the Northern Sea Route. Appropriately enough foran inquiry into the evolution of an extended U.S. security praxis, in the Arctic we find ourselves at the beginningof a process in which ideas drawn from other places and issue-areas seem likely to predominate in improvisedresponses to unexpected problems.


There is little need to document the militarization of U.S. national security thinking and practice during theCold War. The process may be said to have begun with the reassertion of the phrase “national security” bySecretary of the Navy James Forrestal at a Senate hearing in August 1945.3 Bolstered by realist conceptions ofinternational affairs, the Cold War orientation of U.S. security policy crystallized in the National Security Act of1947, and then in the National Security Council paper NSC-68 of 1950 which saw the country effectively com-mitted to two generations of global containment of communism primarily but not exclusively by military means.4

Franklyn Griffiths is Ignatieff Chair of Peace and Conflict Studies and Professor of Political Science at the University ofToronto. He has a background in Soviet arms control and Arctic international affairs. A longer version of this paper is toappear in Willy Østreng, ed., Biopolitics and Security in the Arctic: The Case of the Northern Sea Route (forthcom-ing), which was written under the auspices of the International Northern Sea Route Programme (INSROP). INSROP isa multidisciplinary research program to investigate the possibilities of international commercial navigation through theNortheast Passage. Its secretariat is located at the Nansen Institute, Lysaker, Norway.

Environment in the U.S. Security Debate:The Case of the Missing Arctic Waters

by Franklyn Griffiths


In the Arctic—governed as it was by a succession ofinteractions among strategic bombers, air defenses,land- and then sea-based intercontinental ballistic mis-siles, strategic anti-submarine warfare including the for-ward maritime strategy, and air- and sea-launched stra-tegic cruise missiles—the net effect of Cold War andcontainment was clear.5 Both the Soviet Union on theone hand, and the NATO Arctic members on the other,adopted what has been termed a “fully integrated mul-tidimensional security concept.”6 Though it is debat-able whether the Arctic states had an explicit conceptof regional security, or operated according to a set ofextra-regional imperatives open to interpretation thatthey had one, the practical result was to subordinateany thought of non-military or civil cooperation to thetask of gaining and maintaining global strength in re-lation to the principal adversary. But considerably moreinteresting than much of this was the latent awarenessall along in the United States, and increasingly the prac-tice by the U.S. government, of what amounted to ex-tended security, including on matters of containment.

From the start it was clear that national securitytook into account “our whole potential for war, ourmines, industry, manpower, research, and all the ac-tivities that go into national civilian life.”7 Hence, indue course, the National Defense Highways Act, theNational Defense Education Act, the growth of gov-ernment support for research and development, theconcern for balance of payments, strategic materials,foreign economic assistance, even for the Soviet grainharvest, and so on—all understood as matters of na-tional security. The point here is fourfold. While re-quirements of protracted conflict clearly predominatedin the orchestration of national security policy, secu-rity was never seen purely in military-strategic or evenpolitical-military terms. To the contrary, it was ex-tended horizontally to include many and diverse civilmatters. Secondly, in what may be termed an introver-sion of national security policy, all manner of actorsright down to the level of the individual bought intocivil dimensions of security ranging from scientific re-search to highway construction. Meanwhile, evenwithin the military-strategic domain, extended notionsof security had their say. In the growing practice ofsummitry, arms control, and détente as of the mid-1950s, Americans were introduced to the seeminglyunnatural act of collaboration with the enemy for jointgains. Further, the limited nuclear test ban treaty of1963 saw the United States engage in its first major actof what could later be termed environmental securityby abating nuclear fallout and global public concernover the health effects of nuclear testing. Finally, if re-gional and global awareness is a hallmark of upwards-extended security, the Cold War national security poli-cies of the United States displayed not a little of it inmeeting the worldwide political as well as military re-quirements of containment. To be sure, the state and a

realist policy perspective reigned supreme in all of this.Nevertheless, through the troubled renewal and revo-cation of détente in the 1970s, the United States exhib-ited a manifold but as yet inarticulate propensity to acton extended notions of security.

Lester Brown and other precursors aside, RichardUllman’s 1983 piece in International Security marks thestart of the articulation of a case for an extended secu-rity concept.8 By that time Rachel Carson had longsince written and been followed by the Club of Rome,Barry Commoner, Garrett Hardin, and others includ-ing the Palme Commission and U.N. studies on secu-rity and the relationship between disarmament anddevelopment.9 Also by that time the United States hadwitnessed Earth Day 1970, the 1972 Stockholm Confer-ence on the environment, the oil price shocks of themid-1970s, and the appearance of a Japanese challengeto American competitiveness. Though Ullman mayhave failed to impress the U.S. national security estab-lishment, he was the first to have put the pieces togetherin arguing for a horizontally extended concept to thecommunity of analysts concerned with internationalsecurity affairs. By the time Jessica Mathews wrote in1989, continued evolution of the intellectual and policyclimate had made it somewhat easier to impress.10

What with the advent of “new political thinking” inthe Soviet Union after 1985, the assertion of sustain-able development in the Brundtland report on envi-ronment and development, and then the end of theCold War, the scene was set for an outpouring of U.S.comment on extended security which before longwould have visible effects on the thinking of officialsand political leaders.11 Meanwhile, though new po-tentialities for an extended security praxis in the Arctichad unexpectedly been created by Gorbachev’sMurmansk speech of 2 October 1987, the opportunitywent virtually unnoticed in the United States.12

Throughout the period to 1989, American analysts alsopreferred on balance to articulate the need for new andbetter adapted national security policies, as distinct fromnew conceptions of security per se.

As of 1996, thinking about security was very muchin flux as Americans grappled with the need for a co-herent response to a markedly changed internationalenvironment.13 In fact, the United States no longer hadan integrated national security concept. Populationspecialists and politicians could refer to population asa global security issue, but no one spoke forcefully fordemographic security as such. Economists and othersidentified all manner of economic threats to U.S. na-tional security, but they were not arguing for economicsecurity as a framework for understanding and actionin meeting the challenges of the “new battlefield” ofeconomic competition among the industrialized coun-tries. Energy security was also a continuing concern,but it did not claim attention equivalent even to theglobal warming effects of energy consumption. Ter-

Features - Franklyn Griffiths


rorism, drug trafficking, and illegal immigration wereclearly regarded as security problems along with othernon-military or civil threats such as industrial espio-nage, but they too were not reconceptualized. Mean-while, in the area of political-military affairs, theBrookings Institution made a powerful case for coop-erative security along lines similar to the Palme Com-mission.14 Thinking was extended in this instance byvirtue of the perceived need for the United States toact in concert with others to achieve national securityobjectives. And yet the Brookings report was resolutein resisting any significant horizontal extension of se-curity discourse into the civil domain. What with therapid proliferation of the security-related agenda, andthe continuing attachment of many to threat-and-use-of-force notions, any effort to generate consensus onan integrated post-Cold War security concept couldonly have been judged premature as of mid-decade.

The transitional character of current U.S. securitypraxis is well captured in the 1995 National SecurityStrategy paper issued by the White House. It is worthexcerpting at length:

Protecting our nation’s security—our people, ourterritory and our way of life—is myAdministration’s foremost mission and constitu-tional duty. The end of the Cold War fundamen-tally changed America’s security imperatives. Thecentral security challenge of the past half cen-tury—the threat of communist expansion—isgone. The dangers we face today are more diverse.Ethnic conflict is spreading and rogue states posea serious danger to regional stability in many cor-ners of the globe. The proliferation of weapons ofmass destruction represents a major challenge toour security. Large scale environmental degrada-tion, exacerbated by rapid population growth,threatens to undermine political stability in manycountries and regions. . . .

Not all security risks are military in nature.Transnational phenomena such as terrorism, nar-cotics trafficking, environmental degradation,rapid population growth and refugee flows alsohave security implications for both present andlong term American policy. In addition, an emerg-ing class of transnational environmental issues areincreasingly affecting international stability andconsequently will present new challenges to U.S.strategy. . . .

Our engagement must be selective, focusing onthe challenges that are most relevant to our owninterests and focusing our resources where we canmake the most difference. . . . In all cases, the na-ture of our response must depend on what bestserves our own long-term interests. Those inter-

ests are ultimately defined by our security require-ments. Such requirements start with our physicaldefense and economic well-being. They also in-clude environmental security as well as the secu-rity of values achieved through the expansion ofthe community of democratic nations.15

Though “environ-mental security” is citedhere, “sustainable de-velopment” has prideof place in a documentwhich clearly autho-rizes action on new di-mensions of securitywhile continuing to re-gard military threats asfundamental. The lin-ear thinking of an ear-lier era is giving way tothe variable geometryof a horizontally andvertically extended se-curity praxis that in-creasingly admits thenecessity for coopera-tion.

The United States has thus been working with ex-tended conceptions of security throughout the periodsince 1945. The story is not one of military thoughtand action giving way to extended security. Through-out the period to the 1970s, U.S. national security policywas dominated by militarized and realist conceptionsto which diverse civil security matters were effectivelysubordinated but also acted upon. Thereafter, the cor-relation began to alter. Horizontal extension broughtcivil concepts and, as will be seen, practices increas-ingly into their own. It also began to displace military-strategic and realist considerations. Further, an en-larged interest in vertical extensions of security to theglobal and individual levels served to dilute thestrength of state-centric security thinking and policy.Civil security considerations began to break free of theirlong subordination to political-military requirements.But while the extended security praxis of the UnitedStates showed clear signs of being demilitarized whereideas were concerned, the innate complexity of newthinking about security was such that new practicescould be institutionalized only with difficulty and inad hoc fashion. Nor did the vertical extension and thediffusion of awareness of responsibility for securitycooperation seem likely soon to supplant the primacyof the national interest, the state, and self-help in thesecurity-related behavior of Americans. Though theold no longer held, a new extended security praxisseemed destined for a difficult birth.

Change in the correlation of civil and military in

If asked to state which ofthe varied dimensions ofsecurity now being dis-cussed is most likely toperform a pathfindingfunction in generatingconcepts that show theway forward for an ex-tended U.S. security

praxis, it is the environ-ment and security dis-course that gets my bet

Environment in the U.S. Security Debate: The Case of the Missing Arctic Waters


U.S. security policy obviously owed much to the wan-ing and then the end of the Cold War. It also owed alot to what the Soviets used to call objective realities—new civil security threats that demanded attention andnew opportunities to address these threats. Nor shouldwe omit domestic politics, notably the election of aDemocratic Administration in 1992 and the Republi-can sweep of Congress in 1994, which served to endthe boomlet of expansive thinking that was ushered inby the end of the Cold War. At a deeper level, the al-tered threat assessment of Americans may be said toreflect change in American preferences of how they areto live as a society. The thought here is that the choiceof threats to regard as uppermost is inseparable fromthe choice of how to live.16 Whereas the communistmenace once provided a good deal of the answer, thegrowing force of civil considerations in U.S. securitydiscourse suggests that Americans may be embarkedupon an endeavor to redefine civility and the civil so-ciety. If asked to state which of the varied dimensionsof security now being discussed is most likely to per-form a pathfinding function in generating concepts thatshow the way forward for an extended U.S. securitypraxis, it is the environment and security discourse thatgets my bet.


To the extent that U.S. government action on Arc-tic waters issues is shaped by considerations of secu-rity, it will be influenced more by the course of ten-dency conflict between the old and the new on extendedsecurity within the United States, than by developmentsas they occur in the Arctic. This is because Arctic eventswill be perceived, assimilated, and acted upon not abinitio, but in accordance with an evolving securitypraxis. As of 1996, extended security remains far morea matter of conflicting ideas, than of interaction betweenresolved thinking and coherent practice. At this pointit is by no means a foregone conclusion that Ameri-cans will ultimately choose to define their internationalenvironmental agenda in security terms. Nor is it atall clear that environment should be treated as a mat-ter of security. The environment and security debatemay nevertheless hold the key to the evolution of U.S.security-related activity in Arctic regions which are ofparticular interest to us here. Before considering maintrends in the debate, we should try to be as clear as wecan about the magnitude and the meaning of what isbeing discussed.

In the U.S. debate we observe a rapidly expandingbibliography that now includes hundreds of articles,chapters, and books which are explicitly and, more of-ten, implicitly associated with a security perspectiveon the environment.17 Large-scale collaborative re-search and networking ventures have also beenlaunched. Chief among these are the Project on Envi-

ronment, Population and Security which is funded bythe Global Stewardship Initiative of the Pew CharitableTrusts and operated by the Program on Science andInternational Security of the American Association forthe Advancement of Science in conjunction with thePeace and Conflict Studies Program at the Universityof Toronto; the Environmental Change and Acute Con-flict Project sponsored by the American Academy ofArts and Sciences and University of Toronto’s Peaceand Conflict Studies Program; and the EnvironmentalChange and Security Project of the Woodrow WilsonCenter in Washington, D.C.18 As well, under a varietyof initiatives sponsored by the President and by theCongress, a broadening array of environmental taskshave been taken on by government institutions havingnational security responsibilities. Specifically we aretalking about the U.S. Navy, which has released ice-pack thickness data and made submarines available forscientific research on climate change; the CIA and otherintelligence agencies, which have also cooperated withscientists studying environmental degradation; the Na-tional Security Council, at which a global environmen-tal affairs directorate has been created; the Departmentof Defense, which has established the position ofDeputy Under Secretary of Defense for Environmen-tal Security and entered a trilateral venture with Rus-sia and Norway on Russian nuclear waste managementin Arctic waters; the Department of Energy, which nowhas farflung environmental responsibilities includingnuclear safety in Russia and other countries of theformer Soviet Union; and the State Department, whichhas gathered international environmental and associ-ated matters under the office of an Under Secretary ofState for Global Affairs.19 Note also the July 1996Memorandum of Understanding on cooperative actionfor environmental security agreed to by the Departmentof Defense, the Department of Energy, and the U.S.Environmental Protection Agency, which received theendorsement but not the participation of the State De-partment.20 Put all of this together, and it might seemthat the United States is starting to move towards in-tellectual and policy convergence on “environment andsecurity,” if not “environmental security,” as a frameof reference and action for the environmental compo-nents of an extended security praxis. This, however,would be to overstate the coherence of current U.S. dis-course, let alone U.S. practice.

A quick scan of the spring 1995 report of the Wil-son Center’s Environmental Change and Security Re-port finds private analysts attempting to make sense ofa set of variables whose only order at this point can bealphabetical:

acid rain, biodiversity, civil strife, cleanup andremediation, counter-terrorism, deforestation, eco-logical security, economic competitiveness, envi-ronmental scarcity and stress, environmental se-

Features - Franklyn Griffiths


curity, ethnicity, failed states, fossil fuels, free trade,genetic engineering, global security, greenhousewarming, humanitarian relief, infectious diseases,international civil society, intra-state violence, lim-its to growth, migration, national security, naturaldisasters, nuclear waste, oil crises, overpopulation,poverty, resource scarcity, sea-level rise, soil deg-radation, sovereignty, stratospheric ozone deple-tion, sustainable development, transboundary pol-lution.21

Similarly, the Wilson Center Report notes that U.S. gov-ernment agencies have indicated operational interestin, inter alia:

agricultural yields, biodiversity protection, bio-logical and chemical warfare, the clean car initia-tive, climate change, democratic institutions, de-pendence on imported oil, desertification, disas-ter relief, drought, drug interdiction, empower-ment of women, environmental health, environ-mental security, environmentally-responsible mili-tary activity, ethnic conflict, family planning,flooding, hazardous waste, infant and child mor-tality, long-range transboundary air pollution,natural and technological disasters, nuclear dump-ing, ozone depletion, pesticides, pollution preven-tion centers, population growth, public health,refugee flows, renewable energy resources, re-source scarcity, state failure, sustainable resourceuse, technology transfer, terrorism, urbanization,vector-borne diseases.22

These two arrays, impressionistic as they are,strongly suggest that the United States is opening upfor itself a vast and at present unmanageable agendathat will soon need preliminary sorting if the discus-sion of environment and security is not to be side-tracked as a focus for policy development.

At its most elementary, a policy may be taken toconsist of (1) a set of goals; (2) an understanding of thesituation in which goals are to be pursued; and (3) a setof routines for goal-attainment in the situation as un-derstood. Though some form of policy on many of thespecifics cited is certainly within reach if not already tosome degree in hand, an integrated set of routines basedon a systematic causal understanding of the totality ofvariables in play is far off. In fact, such an approach isnot the way things are normally done in a pragmaticpolitical culture accustomed to acting before all thephysical and social science results are in. It would seem,therefore, that today’s environment and security de-bate is primarily about goal-changing as Americansgrope towards an understanding of what is of upper-most importance to them in an altered world. Goal-changing occurs as the rhetoric of security is used toattract attention to new concerns, as government and

non-governmental institutions respond to situationalchange in ad hoc but incremental fashion, and as newvalues are internalized in security policy-making.23 Indue course, Americans may be expected to cut throughthe vast knot of environment and security variableswith rough and ready understandings of what is go-ing on and how best to act. Rather than negotiate aconception of what needs to be done or left undoneeach time a call for environmental action is made upontheir government, they may evolve a concept that sys-tematizes action and favors pro-action. How and in-deed whether this is done will depend substantiallyon interaction between different schools of thought onenvironment and security as they succeed or fail in gen-erating guidance for policy inside and outside of gov-ernment.

Following Geoffrey Dabelko in a rough and readyclassification, we may identify three broad view-points—ecological, health, and military—in the currentU.S. discussion of environment and security.24 We mayalso note that aside from debates over environment andsecurity, there are significant differences among Ameri-cans over the redefinition of security as such. Broadly,the course of environment and security debate wouldnow seem to be favoring what Dabelko terms “mili-tary” thinking and practice at the expense of the eco-logical and health perspectives.25 As to a redefinitionof security, it is unlikely to be with us any time soon.Throughout, there is no agreed U.S. understanding ofwhat “environmental security” might signify, consid-erable reluctance to employ the term,26 and, again, littlelikelihood of early consensus.

The ecological perspective is key to understand-ing and addressing global environmental problems atthe level of causes rather than symptoms.27 Concen-trating on planetary issues such as climate change, de-forestation, ozone depletion, overpopulation, and otherconsequences and causes of environmental degrada-tion which exceed the bounds of national sovereignty,the varied exponents of this standpoint are inclined tomute the prevailing emphasis on the national interestand to emphasize the individual, non-governmental,transnational, inter-governmental, regional, and theglobal as points of reference. By the same token, theymay be strongly averse to opposed-forces, military, andstatist notions of security. Preferring to treat the envi-ronment and security agendas holistically, some see theunderlying problem not so much in terms of sustain-able development as of a fundamental transformationin the relationship of humankind to Nature.

Health conceptions of security and environmentmay share some of the ecological inclination to rede-fine security, but the aim is more to react to the humanconsequences of environmental degradation than toanticipate and address its causes at the source. Themain focus is on the health effects in the United Statesof past military and defense-industrial activity, as in

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(1) the Strategic Environmental Research and Devel-opment Program which entails defense-related envi-ronmental compliance, remediation, and information-gathering and analysis; (2) the Defense Department’sDefense Environmental Restoration Account of some$5 billion which is applied to toxic cleanup at militarysites; and (3) the Department of Energy’s commitmentof roughly one-third of its annual appropriation tocleanup of the environmental aftereffects of nuclear-weapons production.28 Being problem-driven as theyare, these programs represent a significant dimensionof current U.S. practice on environment and security,but are not accompanied by much in the way of con-ceptual argument.29

Third, in military conceptions of environment andsecurity we encounter a viewpoint that is most in keep-ing with received state-centric and conflictual views ofnational security. It is not surprising that this stand-point should be found congenial by policy-makers. Theanalytical emphasis here is on the environment as asource of violent conflict in Third World societies. Inpractice, however, the analysis tends to be used to drawattention to the symptoms of environmental degrada-tion which are seen to constitute a new category ofthreat to U.S. national security. Though many havecontributed to this discourse, the work of ThomasHomer-Dixon of the University of Toronto stands outin Dabelko’s and most anyone’s assessment.30 Priorto Robert Kaplan’s publication of an article on “TheComing Anarchy” in The Atlantic Monthly in February1994 which drew attention to the studies of Homer-Dixon, the latter was invited to brief the associate di-rectors of the National Security Council. In due course,Homer-Dixon established a relationship with VicePresident Gore, was cited favorably by President BillClinton, and found his ideas being taken up by U.S.national security agencies.31 Within the U.S. govern-ment, however, the political effect has been to add en-vironmentally-related Third World conflict to the listof concerns of interest to U.S. military planners andintelligence analysts. In Dabelko’s view there is anirony here in that Homer-Dixon’s policy agenda cen-ters on international assistance to Third World peoplessubject to environmental deprivation, not on nationalsecurity and military planning. Still, if any one indi-vidual stands out in the U.S. discussion of environmentand security, it is Homer-Dixon, a Canadian. As mightbe expected, he has another take on what’s been hap-pening.

Homer-Dixon broadly agrees that his work is be-ing used by the U.S. national security establishmentfor purposes other than he intends.32 He is also sur-prised at the interest shown by U.S. policy-makers inhis ideas, by their readiness to listen and adapt theirthinking. But he adds that from the start he intendedto make a somewhat subversive contribution and toldthe Vice President so when they met. In linking “envi-

ronmental scarcity” and violent conflict he sought toforce a broadening of American horizons and eventu-ally a pro-active U.S. commitment to humane devel-opment. This he sees as inescapable: given that theUnited States cannot wall itself off from the rest of theworld, the logic of the situation is such that U.S. policy-makers will sooner or later be driven to recognize thataction is excessively costly and problematic if left tothe point where violent conflict has already broken outand military intervention is required to serve the Ameri-can interest.

Homer-Dixon’s aim has thus been to deploy a dis-course of environmental scarcity and security againstthe conventional U.S. security praxis, and on behalf ofgreater U.S. pro-action—a consideration that will fig-ure prominently when we turn to the Arctic. Such suc-cess as he has had to date also indicates that contribu-tions from outside the United States can make a differ-ence to the course of policy debate in a country that isomnivorous where new and workable ideas are con-cerned.

In addition to interaction among ecological, health,and military perspectives, there is considerable dis-agreement on whether or not to link environment andsecurity in the first place. Some argue that collectiveaction on environmental issues will only suffer if it ismilitarized.33 Others insist that the national securityestablishment and the military in particular have littleor no business in dealing with international environ-mental affairs and should stick to what is most impor-tant.34 Either way, there is a reluctance to link envi-ronment and security into “environmental security.”Homer-Dixon, for example, refuses to speak of envi-ronmental security on grounds that it invites sophisticdiscussion of terms and meanings. Still others see littleutility in the term when it embraces everything fromsustainable development to the environmentally det-rimental effects of military operations.35

If budgetary allocations are the measure of successin discourse on environment and security, health con-cepts are clearly the winner in the United States andshould not be downplayed in their future implications.Ecological thinking, though not without support, seemsmost at variance with received precepts, most open-ended in its budgetary implications, and therefore mostlikely to encounter difficulty. Military concepts keyedto violent conflict and environmentally responsibledefense activity, on the other hand, are most in keep-ing with received thinking and entail the least outlayof funds barring a readiness to address the issues atsource. Remember, too, that there is still a heavily in-stitutionalized Cold War and realist tendency to sub-ordinate the civil dimensions of extended security toconventional geopolitical requirements, and to regardthe extension of security as so much “globaloney.”

How then might all of this be brought to bear inconsidering U.S. government behavior in matters of


environment and security where Arctic waters are con-cerned? Several implications come to mind. In theabsence of new Arctic marine disasters or a surge of

interest in the shippingof Alaskan hydrocar-bons, U.S. Arctic poli-cies are likely to beconservative. The cur-rent correlation of ten-dencies favors a tradi-tionally restrictiveview of the civil di-mensions of security, anew awareness of theneed for environmen-tally responsible na-

tional military activity, and an interest in the violentconflict potential of environmental degradation. Un-certainty over Russian political and military develop-ment may be expected to brake the decline of tradi-tional security praxis in this region of the world as com-pared to others. The lack of significant potential forenvironmentally-conditioned intra-state violence in theArctic outside of Russia will also serve to limit the ex-tension of U.S. national security interests to include theregion. At the same time, in pursuit of environmentalresponsibility, military engagement in monitoring andcleanup of nuclear pollution in the Russian Arctic willcontinue to be of interest.36 Overall, U.S. efforts onbehalf of environment and security in the Arctic willbe heavily conditioned by the evolution of the bilat-eral relationship with Russia.

Second, the force of health conceptions of securityin the United States is suggestive insofar as more ac-tive U.S. intervention in Arctic affairs is to be encour-aged. Though health has long been the subject of non-governmental collaboration in the circumpolar North,the potentialities of this theme in animating the U.S.government are far from being fully explored, muchless tested in practice. The difficult requirement, as forexample with the dumping of radionuclides in Rus-sian waters, would be to substantiate the links betweenthe health and humanitarian interests of Americans onthe one hand, and the presence of environmentally-based Arctic health threats on the other.

Third, of the three orientations to environment andsecurity that have emerged to date, the needs of theArctic are best met by an emphasis on ecological con-cepts of security which currently stand at the bottomof the U.S. preference order. The Arctic is, after all, aregion whose physical and social processes, especiallyfor native peoples, are heavily influenced bytransboundary fluxes and require cooperation on civilagendas among non-governmental and territorial ac-tors as well as states at all levels from the local to theglobal.37 Paradoxically, the relative lack of U.S. nationalsecurity interests in the Arctic could prove to be an

advantage in widening the U.S. commitment to an eco-logical practice in this part of the world: Arctic actorsand active minorities in Washington and the metropolesof other regional countries may be in a position quietlyto extend the range of regional civil collaboration aslong as core strategic military interests are not broughtinto play. Indeed, rather than risk engaging the U.S.national security establishment needlessly by seekinggreater Arctic policy intervention in the name of envi-ronmental “security,” it could be tactically advisableto decouple environment from security and drop allreference to security if a reactive and symptoms-driven“military” understanding of the environment wereclearly to become paramount in Washington.38

Finally, if debate over environment and security isindeed to perform a pathfinding function in the fur-ther extension of U.S. security praxis, a more enablinginternal political setting will be indispensable. Not-withstanding Republican strength in Congress, the re-newed Clinton Administration could move beyond a“military” stance on the environment and open the wayfor an ecological conception of security. If so, it wouldmake sense for Americans and others to persist in treat-ing the environment as a security issue. Late 1996, how-ever, is surely not the moment to decide whether totreat ecological and environmentally related healthconcerns on their own merits, or to persist in includingthem within an extended security framework.


To test the potential of an environment and secu-rity discourse in truly difficult circumstances, I nowask whether and if so how an improved performancemight be evoked from the United States on a particu-lar set of issues with the use of an environmental con-ception of security. International cooperation in themanagement of Arctic waters is the set of issues in ques-tion. The question in turn implies a deficiency in U.S.performance to date. The deficiency is twofold. Onthe one hand, from an external perspective and fromthat of some of the few Americans who are paying at-tention, the United States is not playing the leadershiprole it could and should in the affairs of the circumpo-lar North. Secondly, from a purely internal U.S. per-spective, the fact is that the United States is at presentnot interested in playing any such role. So the ques-tion is whether an environmental and particularly anecological conception of security, articulated in prelimi-nary fashion within the United States and by other re-gional states and non-governmental actors might dotwo things: (1) assist the United States in redefining itsArctic interests; and (2) add to the force of civil consid-erations in the extension of U.S. security policy writlarge. If the answer is on balance positive, we shouldthink about what to do. If clearly negative, there wouldbe reason for Americans and others to consider aban-

Overall, U.S. efforts onbehalf of environment

and security in the Arc-tic will be heavily condi-tioned by the evolutionof the bilateral relation-

ship with Russia

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doning a security perspective on the environment.During the Cold War the United States did not hesi-

tate to play a leadership role on Arctic issues in rela-tions with fellow NATO members—Canada, Denmark,Iceland, and Norway—in opposing the Soviet Unionand dealing with the two Arctic neutral states—Fin-land and Sweden. U.S. leadership was however mainlyderivative of the global struggle with communism. Ithad little to do with the Arctic as such. Governed bythe perceived need to subordinate civil collaborationto the wider requirements of political-military security,it allowed for little or no multilateral interaction on is-sues specific to the region. But with the waning andthen the end of the Cold War, a leadership role couldbe maintained only by taking the initiative on Arctic-specific matters. This the United States declined to do.No longer seized by the Soviet threat, it was left withno substantial perceived interests specific to the region.Washington’s problem in the Arctic became cooperation,specifically requests from other Arctic states for multi-lateral civil collaboration for which the United Stateshad and continues to have little appetite.

Only with difficulty was the United States drawninto the multilateral process which created and nowconstitutes the Arctic Environmental Protection Strat-egy (AEPS)—an evolving multilateral regime that joinsthe eight Arctic states and other participants in a vari-ety of efforts to monitor and protect the region’s envi-ronment.39 Similarly, the longstanding Canadian ini-tiative to establish an Arctic Council or central inter-governmental forum for multi-purpose regional coop-eration on civil issues ran into considerable U.S. resis-tance that ended only with the Council’s establishmentin 1996.40 In September 1994 the United States an-nounced a new post-Cold War Arctic policy whichemphasizes environmental protection, environmentallysustainable development, and the role of indigenouspeoples while also separately recognizing U.S. nationalsecurity interests.41 It is as well concerned with theneed for scientific research and affirms the importanceof international cooperation in achieving Arctic objec-tives. The new policy signified that between 1989 and1994, multilateral cooperation had to some extent cometo be accepted as routine. And yet Washington contin-ued to be exceedingly restrictive in making new Arcticinternational commitments. The sources of U.S. reluc-tance to lead are evident in the way policy is made onArctic affairs.

The key individual in the policy process for inter-national relations in the circumpolar North is the PolarAffairs Chief in the State Department’s Office of Oceansand International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.This is the person who does the hard work of coordi-nating departmental positions and also such non-gov-ernmental views as may be brought to the table in theInter-Agency Arctic Policy Group. The Polar AffairsChief also carries the U.S. position out into major in-

ternational Arctic venues and brings issues back intothe policy process. Circumstances are such that in myview he has something of a free hand and yet not muchof a hand at all in the making of U.S. policy on Arcticmultilateral civil matters. Interviews with the previ-ous (1986-1994) and current (1994-) Polar Affairs Chiefsconfirm the impression that U.S. policy on Arctic inter-national issues is ordinarily made at lower levels of thebureaucratic hierarchy without benefit of active politi-cal guidance or substantial input from non-governmen-tal actors.42 President Clinton (and with him the Sec-retary of State) was drawn into the Arctic Council ne-gotiation momentarily in February 1995 at a meetingwith the Canadian Prime Minister in Ottawa. Vice-President Gore has been engaged in a variety of Arc-tic-related issues on an intermittent basis, though theseagain are extensions of broader U.S. interests such asglobal science or bilateral relations with Russia as inthe Gore-Chernomyrdin talks.43 As a rule, however,the White House and also the National Security Coun-cil are “not interested” in Arctic multilateral affairs.44

Within the State Department, Arctic issues do not gen-erally get up to the Assistant Secretary level. On thecontrary, active engagement by senior management hasbeen “real low.”45 The Polar Affairs Chief thereforeruns with the issues himself in the midst of a fairamount of benign neglect at higher levels of govern-ment.

As to other agencies, the Department of Defense is“the biggest player” of all.46 Indeed, it has been de-scribed as an 800 lb. gorilla which no one wants to seeentering their office. Where Arctic waters are con-cerned, DoD means the U.S. Navy and its overridingstrategic military interest both in global freedom ofnavigation and in regional submarine and anti-subma-rine warfare operations.47 Not to be limited, DoD rep-resentatives at inter-agency Arctic sessions to 1993made a point of emphasizing the paramount impor-tance of military-strategic considerations as meetingsdrew to a close.48 Legal officers of the Department maybe particularly interested in Arctic marine matters.49

Their job is presumably to guard against commitmentsthat might serve to impede the free movement of sub-marines and surface vessels not only in the Arctic but,by precedent, in any of the world’s oceans and straits.Whatever the reason, DoD “doesn’t see” the signifi-cance of Arctic environmental issues.50 As to the U.S.Coast Guard, while it can be “very active,” as on emer-gency response in U.S. Arctic waters, Arctic issues arehandled at a low level in the service.51 Illegal immi-gration by boat, drug interdiction, marine safety andso forth in U.S. coastal waters are the priority concerns,with the result that the Coast Guard is “not focused”on the Arctic.52 The situation could change if and whenmarine transportation of Alaskan oil and natural gasbecame a serious proposition. But until then it is thepressing issues of the day that get the attention of flag


officers who have no time for “etherials.”53

Where “environmental security” is concerned, Iwould add that there is no way the Department of De-fense could assent to it as a prime governing conceptfor ocean operations without opening the door to sig-nificant departures from the Navy’s traditional mission.By the same token, the Coast Guard is reluctant to en-dorse discussion of “environmental security,” since itcould authorize the intervention of the Navy into whatthe Coast Guard regards as its own preserve of marineenvironmental “safety.”54

To continue this tour d’horizon, back in the early1990s the Environmental Protection Agency had to be“dragged” into the preparation for the AEPS.55 For itspart, the Department of Energy is occupied with Arc-tic-related issues but in the Alaskan context and inter-nationally as a function primarily of relations withRussia and offshore oil and gas development. Insofaras DoE is also occupied with international concepts, itwould seem to favor stability, rather than security, forsustainable economic and technological develop-ment.56 The Alaskan Senators, though very powerful,have broadly been content to receive consultation fromState and do not as a rule pressure the Polar AffairsChief, who may feel he’s doing well if there are no com-plaints from this quarter.57 The Alaskan delegation onthe Hill has, however, been showing increased interestin the AEPS and in the Arctic Council as a means ofsecuring greater recognition for Alaska’s objectiveswithin the Congress.58 As to the Alaskan Governor’soffice, roughly a dozen Alaskan native organizations,the shipping sector, and some two dozen southern-based environmental groups, they have until recentlynot so much sought access but on the contrary havebeen invited into the policy process by State.59 Theirparticipation is beginning to take hold. As of 1996,Athabascan and Aleyut native organizations are ac-tively engaged on the Arctic Council issue; the Gover-nor is prepared to commit resources for the Council’ssecretariat when it comes time for the United States tohost the operation; and environmental NGOs are show-ing more interest in Arctic affairs as the Antarcticagenda shrinks following the institution of the envi-ronmental protection regime there.60 Meanwhile, theNorthern Forum—a transnational association of terri-torial governments from around the region whose cre-ation was spearheaded by the Alaskan Governor in1990—was also invited by the Polar Affairs Chief totake part in the work of the Inter-Agency Group and isnow increasingly interested in Arctic cooperation at theinter-governmental level.61

It is fair to say that while things are changing, no-body has really been beating on the Polar Affairs Chief’sdoor. He does as he thinks best under broad guide-lines from on high and with a determination to consultas widely as possible within and outside government.On the inside, he is faced with a powerful aversion to

any U.S. international commitments that entail newspending. At the same time, he is likely to be told thereis no time for “great ideas,” and to come back to the

IAPG or indi-vidual depart-ments “whenreal money is be-ing talkedabout.”62 Ifthere is any ex-plicit conceptualguidance, therelevant notionis sustainabled e v e l o p m e n tand not environ-mental security,much less eco-logical security.The U.S. posi-

tion on the mandate of an Arctic Council, for instance,is solid in support of sustainable development—indeed,an Arctic Sustainable Development Initiative—and en-vironmentally-conscious resource exploitation.63 Asto environmental security, the term is not frequentlyencountered and, when it is, causes “a bit of heartburn”owing to its lack of clear meaning.64

U.S. Arctic policies are caught between a block ofdrifting ice and a hard place. On the one hand, wehave the expressed intent of other Arctic countries topursue a civil collaboration that cannot go far withoutthe United States. On the other, we observe a state thatis reluctant to support active engagement in multilat-eral civil cooperation, has little awareness of the Arcticas a region, and is without an overarching sense ofpurpose or unifying concept to mobilize and lend di-rection to collective action. One major result is signifi-cant rigidity in U.S. multilateral negotiating behaviorwhich is formulated and altered at lower levels of thebureaucracy only with considerable difficulty. Anotherresult is institutionalized aversion to international ar-rangements that would treat the Arctic as a region andthereby offer others added opportunities to seek col-laborative action on issues in which the United Stateshas little perceived interest beyond that which can besatisfied through select bilateral or trilateral interaction.The United States has indeed yielded to the entreatiesof others, but grudgingly and in a manner that falls farshort of its potential to offer leadership in circumpolaraffairs. As compared to sustainable development, anyconcept of environmental security is sufficiently faraway from acceptance as to be of little use in movingthe United States to greater pro-action and leadershipin Arctic cooperation. The problem seems to be one ofinterests and lack thereof, not one of concepts. To jus-tify this point we could consider the workings of PAME(Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment), which

To associate consider-ations of environmentand security with pos-

sible development of theNorthern Sea Route atthis time is to be way

ahead of the game wherethe United States is


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is a subgroup of the AEPS; or the talks stemming froma Canadian initiative to harmonize the rules for Arcticshipping under the auspices of the International Mari-time Organization.65 But let us cut to the NorthernSea Route (NSR) which itself can be dealt with sum-marily.

Increased shipping along Russia’s Arctic coastlineis sufficiently far from being a concern in Washingtonthat it is difficult at present to see what or who couldbenefit from the use of an ecological or environmentalsecurity perspective if one were to be clarified. Thistoo could change, for example with a major Russianeffort to increase the volume of shipping, which couldcreate a perceived need to act. Nevertheless, the NSRhas been discussed in the Inter-Agency Arctic PolicyGroup and at Alaska Senators’ meetings without any-one being persuaded that the prospects are real enoughto be worth spending much time on.66 Though theNorthern Forum once had an active interest, it appearsto have subsided. Nor has the shipping sector or forthat matter the Department of Defense paid much at-tention.67 The State Department’s perspective on Rus-sian oil and gas transportation by marine mode cur-rently favors a sustainable development approach inwhich resource exploitation proceeds with full atten-tion to the protection of Arctic ecosystems and popula-tions.68 As to the potential lead agency, the U.S. CoastGuard is “not interested,” and has “nobody” workingon NSR matters.69 To associate considerations of en-vironment and security with possible development ofthe Northern Sea Route at this time is to be way aheadof the game where the United States is concerned.

Leadership on the part of the United States in theinternational management of the Arctic marine envi-ronment can only be achieved by raising the issue-areato the political level in the U.S. policy process. Barringthe appearance of Arctic marine threats that bear di-rectly on the U.S. interest, it is the Senators from Alaskawho are in the best position to move the Administra-tion. They, however, are embroiled in a perennial dis-pute with the White House over the development ofNorth Slope oil reserves and are not much taken withenvironmentalism. A coalition of environmental andnative NGOs, scientists, and other interested parties,even if one could be formed,70 seems very unlikely tocapture the Administration’s attention, much less thatof officials. Otherwise, greater awareness of the needto act could in principle be injected by foreign govern-ments approaching the United States up to and at thehighest level. What with the inclination of other Arcticstates to handle the AEPS at the bureaucratic and tech-nical level, they, too, seem to be far removed from at-taching any great significance to Arctic marine envi-ronmental issues. In these circumstances, the outlookfor greater pro-action in U.S. Arctic waters policy seemsbleak.

As to the potential of an ecological or environmen-

tal security discourse in assisting the United States toredefine its Arctic interests, and in adding to the forceof civil considerations in the extension of security policywrit large, it is decidedly unpromising under currentconditions. There is no felt need for a discourse of en-vironment and security in dealing with Arctic issues.In any case, there is no consensus on how to integrateconsiderations of environment and security in a waythat yields more than rhetorical policy effect. It seemsto be a Catch-22 situation. As long as agreement lackson what is being talked about, there is no way for asecurity-related approach to Arctic waters problems tospeed early agreement in the wider U.S. discussion ofenvironment and security. But the thought of workingnow for returns down the road is something different.


The subtext of this essay is one of timing. To dis-cuss the potentialities of a security-related concept ofthe environment is not unlike talking about the char-acter of a child before it has been conceived. In fact, itis like part of the decision on whether or not to con-ceive. To press the imagery, there is much intercourseamong Americans on environment and security thesedays, but the moment of conception, if there is to beone, is still some time off. Whether or not the act ofconception is a decision or an unintended outcome, itwill be undertaken by Americans, in the light of per-ceived U.S. interests, and without decisive input fromabroad. Nevertheless, at the margins and over time,outsiders may expect to make focused contributionsto the extension of a U.S. security praxis that will in-evitably affect them. They should explore the poten-tial. The United States, after all, will not stop beingguided by security considerations. Nor will the newbreak free from the old in U.S. policy on security andenvironment alike. These things are certain. So is theopenness of the United States to ideas that work. Atissue is whether and how a security perspective mightbenefit the environment more than another, such assustainable development or environmental protection.This will not be known until the elements of a new se-curity perspective have been clarified, tested, and be-gin to yield a basis on which to judge their effective-ness.

The fundamental problem in the U.S. discussionof environment and security is the lack of agreementon a concept that has demonstrated guidance value.Such a concept, if one can be achieved, will not be aliterary construct divorced from practice. Rather, it islikely to emerge from intense interaction between prac-titioners and analysts. Even modest progress in thisarea could make a significant contribution in focusingthe wider U.S. debate and providing direction for prac-tice. Demonstration projects are in order to lend preci-sion to the meaning of ecological or environmental se-


curity, and to show what may be accomplished inter-nationally with such a concept that cannot already bedone. Ventures of this kind could of course be con-fined to U.S. citizens. But they could also be interna-tional in character. The advantage of an internationaldemonstration project lies in the pooling of insight andthe discovery of potential subjects to be discussed ininter-governmental negotiation.

The point being made here is significant and sug-gests a change of perspective on the praxis of environ-ment and security. It is that the development of anenvironmentally-related security concept that is notonly of use to the United States, but also effective inproviding for joint management of environmental is-sues, may more readily be achieved internationally ina process actively shaped by U.S. interests and think-ing, than in a process confined to the United Statesalone. If security is to be cooperative, the elaborationof an environmental security concept should itself be acooperative venture.

I therefore conclude that a track two internationaldemonstration project should be set up to assess themerits of a security perspective on the Arctic marineenvironment. By track two I mean well-placed andknowledgeable practitioners and analysts working to-gether in their capacity as private individuals. A projectof this kind should evaluate not only the cost-effective-ness of an inter-governmental effort to engage in a fol-low-on venture, but also the utility of a security dis-course for Arctic international environmental coopera-tion in the years ahead. If the answer is affirmative,the missing Arctic waters may finally be found. Wayswill have been invented to raise Arctic marine issuesto the political level in the circumpolar countries and,the United States and other regional governments willbe prompted to redefine their interest in multilateralenvironmental cooperation. With compelling environ-mental threats to the U.S. national interest in short sup-ply in this part of the world, the value of an ecologicalor environmental security concept will lie mainly in itscapacity to fit the pieces of the policy puzzle togetherin ways that produce results cheaper and faster thancurrent practice allows. And if the answer is negative,there will be cause to set aside a security discourse onthe environment, to cast the issues in ecological terms,and to continue doing what can be done at the techni-cal level.


1 Emma Rothschild, “What Is Security?” Daedalus 124,No. 3 (Summer 1995): 55. I would add to this list theneed for cooperation as well as responsibility.2 U.S. capabilities for Arctic scientific research and un-derstanding of the physical environment, for example,exceed those of any regional country and indeed mostof them combined. See Arctic Research of the United

States, a series sponsored by the Inter-Agency ArcticPolicy Group and issued by the Office of Polar Affairs,National Science Foundation.3 Quoted in Joseph J. Romm, Defining National Secu-rity: The Nonmilitary Aspects (New York: Council onForeign Relations, 1993), 2.4 On NSC-68, see Samuel F. Wells, Jr., “Sounding theTocsin: NSC-68 and the Soviet Threat,” InternationalSecurity 4, No. 2 (Fall 1979): 116-158.5 On the militarization of Arctic waters in particular,see Steven E. Miller, “The Arctic as a Maritime The-atre,” in Franklyn Griffiths, ed., Arctic Alternatives: Ci-vility or Militarism in the Circumpolar North (Toronto:Science for Peace/Samuel Stevens, 1992), 211-236.6 Willy Østreng, “Political-Military Relations Amongthe Ice States: The Conceptual Basis of StateBehaviour,” in Griffiths, Arctic Alternatives, 33.7 Quoted in Romm, Defining National Security, 3.8 Richard H. Ullman, “Redefining Security,” Interna-tional Security 8, No. 1 (Summer 1983): 129-153. StephenJ. Del Rosso, Jr., reports that Ullman’s statement caused“hardly a ripple” in official thinking at the time. Seehis “The Insecure State: Reflections on ‘the State’ and‘Security’ in a Changing World,” Daedalus 124, No. 2(Summer 1995): 186. Prominent among Ullman’s pre-cursors were Robert McNamara, The Essence of Secu-rity: Reflections in Office (New York: Harper and Row,1968); Lester Brown, “Redefining Security,” WorldWatchPaper 14 (Washington, D.C.: WorldWatch Institute,1977); and Maxwell D. Taylor, “The Legitimate Claimsof National Security,” Foreign Affairs 52, No. 3 (April1974): 592-594.9 Rachel Carson, Silent Spring (Boston: HoughtonMifflin, 1962); Garrett Hardin, “The Tragedy of theCommons,” Science 162 (1968): 1243-1248; Barry Com-moner, The Closing Circle: Nature, Man and Technology(New York: Bantam, 1971); Donnella H. Meadows etal., The Limits to Growth: A Report for the Club of Rome’sProject on the Predicament of Mankind (New York: NewAmerican Library, 1972); Independent Commission onDefence and Security (Palme Commission), CommonSecurity (London: Pan, 1982); and United Nations, De-partment of Disarmament Affairs, Report of the Secre-tary-General, Concepts of Security (New York: UnitedNations, 1986).10 Jessica Tuchman Mathews, “Redefining Security,”Foreign Affairs 68, No. 2 (Spring 1989): 162-177.11 World Commission on Environment and Develop-ment (Brundtland Commission), Our Common Future(London: Oxford University Press, 1987). On Sovietnew thinking, see Franklyn Griffiths, “Current SovietMilitary Doctrine,” in Murray Feshbach, ed., NationalSecurity Issues of the USSR: Workshop 6-7 March 1896,NATO HQ, Brussels, Belgium (Dordrecht: MartinusHijhoff, 1987) 241-258, and Eduard Shevardnadze“Ekologiya i diplomatiya” [Ecology and Diplomacy],Literaturnaya gazeta, November 22, 1989. The subse-

Environment in the U.S. Security Debate: The Case of the Missing Arctic Waters


quent U.S. cascade is evident in the some 500 itemslisted in the first report of the Environmental Changeand Security Project, Environmental Change and Secu-rity Project Report (Washington, D.C.: The WoodrowWilson Center, Spring 1995).12 Mikhail Gorbachev, The Speech in Murmansk (Mos-cow: Novosti Press, 1987). The original is in Izvestiya,October 2, 1987.13 Romm, Defining National Security, provides an over-view of several of the issue-areas (the economy, theenvironment, energy, drug trafficking) in the U.S. dis-cussion. On population, see for example Alex deSherbinin, “World Population and U.S. National Secu-rity,” Environmental Change and Security Project Re-port, Issue 1: 24-39.14 Janne E. Nolan, ed., Global Engagement: Cooperationand Security in the 21st Century (Washington, D.C.:Brookings Institute, 1994).15 National Security Strategy of Engagement and Enlarge-ment (Washington, D.C.: The White House, February1995): 1 and 7. The 1996 Strategy is not substantiallydifferent.16 Mary Douglas and Aaron Wildavsky, Risk and Cul-ture: An Essay on the Selection of Technological and Envi-ronmental Dangers (Berkeley: University of CaliforniaPress, 1993). A brilliant reading of the Soviet threat inAmerican Life is to be had in William Pfaff, “Reflec-tions: The Soviet Myth,” The New Yorker, (November 6,1978): 172-178. Following the collapse of socialism,Martin Malia sees in the ecological cause a new candi-date for millennial utopianism complete with centralecoplanning for the collective planetary interest of hu-mankind. Martin Malia, The Soviet Tragedy: A Historyof Socialism in Russia, 1917-1991 (New York: The FreePress, 1994), 519-520.17 See Environmental Change and Security Project Re-port Issue 1: 92-105. Reviews of the U.S. discussion areto be had in Geoffrey D. Dabelko and David D. Dabelko,“Environmental Security: Issues of Conflict and Re-definition,” ibid., 3-13, and Geoffrey D. Dabelko, “Ideasand the Evolution of Environmental Security Concep-tions,” paper presented at the annual convention of theInternational Studies Association, San Diego, CA, 16-20 April 1996. Also, Geoffrey D. Dabelko and P.J.Simmons, “Environment and Security: Core Ideas andU.S. Government Initiatives.” The SAIS Review 17:1(Winter/Spring, 1997). Also consider Marc A. Levy,“Is the Environment a National Security Issue?” Inter-national Security 20, No. 2 (Fall 1995); and the rejoinderto Levy from Thomas F. Homer-Dixon, “ ibid., No. 3(Winter 1996): 189-194.18 Discussed in Dabelko, “Ideas and the Evolution ofEnvironmental Security Conceptions.”19 Ibid. See also the statements from various agenciesincluding the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Ad-ministration (NOAA) and the Environmental Protec-tion Agency, as cited in Environment and Security De-

bates, 83-86; and, on Russian nuclear cleanup in Arcticseas, Kent Butts, “National Security, the Environment,and DOD,” in Environmental Change and Security ProjectReport, Issue 2 (Washington, D.C.: The Woodrow Wil-son Center, Spring 1996), 26.20 Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (PublicAffairs), “Agreement Reached on Environmental Se-curity Plan,” News Release 430-96, July 18, 1996. Seealso the letter from the three agencies, July 18, 1996,conveying the MOU to Secretary Warren Christopher,and his reply of August 8, 1996 to Carol Browner of theEPA.21 Environmental Change and Security Project Report, Is-sue 1: 3-39, and 63-78.22 Ibid., 47-58 and 83-86.23 Ken Conca, “In the Name of Sustainability: PeaceStudies and Environmental Discourse,” in JyrkiKäkönen, ed., Green Security or Militarized Environment(Brookfield: Dartmouth Publishing, 1994), 7-24.24 Dabelko, “Ideas and the Evolution of Environmen-tal Security Conceptions.”25 Ibid.26 For example, the Secretary of State avoided the termaltogether in a major statement of U.S. policy atStanford University, April 19, 1996. “American Diplo-macy and the Global Environmental Challenges of the21st Century,” in Environmental Change and SecurityProject Report, Issue 2: 81-85.27 Al Gore, Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the HumanSpirit (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1992); DennisPirages, Global Technopolitics (Pacific Grove: Brooks-Cole, 1989) and Pirages “Social Evolution and Ecologi-cal Security,” Bulletin of Peace Proposals 22, No. 3 (Sum-mer 1991), 329-334. Tim Wirth, Under Secretary of Statefor Global Affairs, also shares an ecological perspec-tive: Congressional Record — Senate, June 28, 1990, S-8936-8938, and “Sustainable Development: A ProgressReport,” July 12, 1994, excerpted in EnvironmentalChange and Security Project Report, Issue 1: 54-55.28 Dabelko, “Ideas and the Evolution of Environmen-tal Security Conceptions.”29 See however Murray Feshbach and Alfred Friendly,Jr., Ecocide in the USSR (New York: Basic Books, 1992),Laurie Garrett, The Coming Plague: Emerging Diseasesin a World of Balance (New York: Farrar, Straus, 1994),and Garrett, “The Return of Infectious Disease,” For-eign Affairs 75, No. 1 (January/February 1996) whichcites change in the ecological relationship between mi-crobes and humans, 72-73.30 Thomas F. Homer-Dixon, “On the Threshold: Envi-ronmental Changes as Causes of Acute Conflict, Inter-national Security 16, No. 2 (Fall 1991): 76-116, and “En-vironmental Scarcities and Violent Conflict,” ibid., 19,No. 1 (Summer 1994): 5-40.31 For excerpts from President Clinton’s Remarks tothe National Academy of Sciences, June 29, 1994, see,Environmental Change and Security Project Report, Issue

Features - Franklyn Griffiths


1: 51-52.32 Interview, Toronto, April 2, 1996. In his view, theproject on Environment, Population and Security hasbeen driving the U.S. debate. Papers produced by theproject and sent out to a list of 1,500 officials and oth-ers were all written by Canadians. For a critique ofthinking that would replace communism with “chaos”as the prime concern of U.S. foreign policy, see JeremyD. Rosner, “The Sources of Chaos: The Latest Bad For-eign Policy Idea,” The New Democrat, (November 1994):20-22.33 Conca, “In the Name of Sustainability,” which of-fers a critique of “ecological security,” and DanielDeudney, “The Case Against Linking EnvironmentalDegradation and National Security,” Millennium 19, No.2 (Winter 1990): 461-476.34 C. Boyden Gray and David B. Rivkin, Jr., “A ‘NoRegrets’ Environmental Policy,” Foreign Policy 83 (1991):47-65; and Stephen Walt, “The Renaissance of SecurityStudies,” International Studies Quarterly 35, No. 2 (Win-ter 1991): 211-239 who, aside from a brief reference toeconomics, made the point simply by defining secu-rity in military-political terms. This however is a wan-ing position. Gary D. Vest, Principal Assistant DeputyUnder Secretary in the Department of Defense, reportsthat, “DoD’s view of environmental security is com-prised of the following: (1) ensuring environmentallyresponsible action by military units wherever they maybe; (2) ensuring adequate access to land, air and waterto conduct a defense mission; (3) protecting DoD’s war-fighting assets (people, equipment, facilities); (4) un-derstanding where environmental conditions contrib-ute to instability, and where the environment fits intothe war and peace equation; (5) bringing defense-re-lated environmental concerns to the development ofnational security; (6) studying how defense compo-nents can be used as instruments of U.S. global envi-ronmental policy.” Environmental Change and SecurityProject Report, Issue 2: 83. See also Kent Hughes Butts,“Why the Military Is Good for the Environment,” inKäkönen, Green Security, 83-109.35 See Hans Bruyninckx, “Environmental Security: AnAnalysis of the Conceptual Problems in Defining theRelationship Between Environment and Security, pa-per presented at the annual meeting of the InternationalStudies Association, Acapulco, Mexico, March 1993.36 U.S. Department of Defense, “Report on a Joint U.S.-Russia Ecological/Environment Seminar,” Washington,D.C., May 15-19, 1995. See also Peter Gizewski andAlan Chong, “Military Activity: The Case of Radioac-tivity in the Arctic,” in Daniel Deudney and RichardMatthew, eds., Contested Ground: Security and Conflictin the New Environmental Politics (Albany: SUNY Press,forthcoming).37 Arctic Systems: Natural Environments, Human Actions,Nonlinear Processes (Oslo: IASC Secretariat, 1996).38 On decoupling, see Franklyn Griffiths, “Epilogue:

Civility in the Arctic,” in Griffiths, Arctic Alternatives,279-309.39 The negotiation that produced the AEPS began in1989, on a Finnish initiative, and ended with a multi-lateral declaration in June 1991. For the founding docu-ment, see “Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy,”Arctic Research of the United States 5 (Fall 1991): 29-35.Whereas other states sent delegations ready to do busi-ness at the first negotiating session, the United Stateswas represented by junior staff from the embassy inHelsinki. Subsequently the U.S. commitment to thetalks lagged well behind that of other participants. Onthe negotiations, see Oran R. Young, Creating Interna-tional Regimes: Arctic Cases, Generic Processes (forthcom-ing), esp. ch 4. Whereas the AEPS took the form of astanding conference or process, two Arctic multilateralorganizations were also created in the early 1990s: theInternational Arctic Science Committee (1990), a non-governmental body representing national science es-tablishments; and the Northern Forum (also 1990),which unites territorial governments from around thecircumpolar North and as far south as Sakhalin.40 “Canada Hosts Inauguration of Arctic Council,”Government of Canada News Release, No. 166, Septem-ber 19, 1996. The Arctic Council proposal was floatedas a what-if proposition by the Canadian Prime Minis-ter in Leningrad in November 1989, and announced asa commitment by the Minister of External Affairs in aspeech made in Ottawa in November 1990. For com-ment, see Oran R. Young, The Arctic Council: Making aNew Era in International Relations (New York: The Twen-tieth Century Fund, 1996); and David Scrivener, Envi-ronmental Cooperation in the Arctic: From Strategy to Coun-cil (Oslo: The Norwegian Atlantic Committee, 1996).41 U.S. Department of State, Office of the Spokesman,“Statement by Christine D. Shelly, Acting Spokesman:United States Announces New Policy for the ArcticRegion,” September 29, 1994. See also Robert Senseney,“U.S. Arctic Policy Aims for Circumpolar Cooperation,”Witness the Arctic 3, No. 2, 1995, 1-2. Witness is pub-lished by the Arctic Research Consortium of the UnitedStates, at Fairbanks, Alaska.42 Interviews with Raymond V. Arnaudo, former Po-lar Affairs Chief, in London, May 11, 1995, and withRobert S. Senseney, current Chief, in Washington, D.C.,November 1, 1995.43 The release of ice-thickness data was very largelythe doing of then Senator Gore in 1991. Dabelko, “Ideasand the Evolution of Environmental Security Concep-tions.”44 Arnaudo interview.45 Ibid.46 Interview in Cambridge, U.K., February 17, 1996with Lawson W. Brigham, former Commander andhead of policy planning, USCG. Brigham retired in1995, having skippered the Polar Sea to the North Polethe year before.

Environment in the U.S. Security Debate: The Case of the Missing Arctic Waters


47 Ibid.48 Ibid.49 Arnaldo interview.50 Brigham interview. Nevertheless, the Navy doesassist global scientific research in the Arctic, as has beenindicated. As well, the Office of Naval Research man-ages the Arctic Nuclear Waste Assessment Program incooperation with Russia and several other countries.“ANWAP Prepares Risk Assessment,” Witness the Arc-tic 3, No. 2 (Autumn 1995): 10.51 Brigham interview.52 Ibid.53 Ibid.54 Ibid. Also interview in Washington, D.C., at U.S.Coast Guard HQ, November 2, 1995, with Lt. Com-mander Stephen M. Wheeler, Ice Operations Division.Whether or not to refer to “environmental security” isseen by Brigham as a problem in the “tactics of terms.”55 Arnaudo interview. Arnaudo is also of the opinionthat the Arctic has stood “at the bottom” of the U.S.pollution prevention agenda.56 Interview with Gene Delatorre, International AffairsDirector, Environmental Restoration and Waste Man-agement, U.S. Department of Energy, in Washington,D.C., November 1, 1995.57 Arnaudo interview.58 Senseney interview.59 Arnaudo interview.60 Senseney interview.61 Arnaudo and Senseney interviews.62 Arnaudo interview. Arnaudo also reports that inpreparing the 1994 Arctic policy statement the moneypeople caused him “much grief.”63 Senseney interview. See also “U.S. Discussion Pa-per: Sustainable Development,” paper dated Novem-ber 1, 1995, Office of the Polar Affairs Chief.64 Senseney interview. Michael Schneider, Senior Ad-visor to the Under Secretary for Global Affairs, sug-gests that environmental security need not competewith or take away from sustainable development:whereas the latter is a core belief with sweeping impli-cations, the former connotes regulatory action by di-verse government agencies to defend and protect theenvironment. Interview, Washington, D.C., November1, 1995.65 Terms of reference for PAME are to be found in “Arc-tic Environmental Protection Strategy.” See also “Re-port to the Arctic Ministers: PAME Working GroupPublishes Findings,” Arctic Bulletin, No. 1, 1996, 5-6.The Arctic Bulletin, published quarterly by the WorldWide Fund for Nature, is a useful source of commenton the AEPS, which was folded into the Arctic Council’swork at the Council’s creation in September 1996. Onthe Harmonization Talks, see International MaritimeOrganization, “Harmonization of Polar Ship Rules(Code of Polar Navigation),” Document DE 39inf.4,December 1, 1995, and “Summary of Minutes” from

the St. Petersburg, Russia meeting, 15-18 October 1996,both available from Ship Safety Northern, TransportCanada.66 Arnaudo interview.67 Ibid.68 Senseney interview.69 Wheeler and Brigham interviews.70 Environmental NGOs such as the Audubon Society,the Environmental Defense Fund, and the World Wild-life Fund have joined with U.S. native and healthgroups in an Arctic Network to shape governmentpolicy on some of the AEPS working groups. The Net-work issues a newsletter from Anchorage entitledLeads: Arctic Network News Summary. Young, CreatingInternational Regimes.

Features - Franklyn Griffiths


As the first two issues of the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Project Report(1995, 1996) have demonstrated, there is a great deal of discussion and disagreement about environ-mental or ecological security: what it means (Conca 1995) how it can be achieved (Dabelko and Dabelko

1995), and what are the methodological implications of current research (Homer-Dixon 1995; Levy 1995). Thisessay flows in part from this theoretical debate by arguing first that ecological security needs a clear and work-able definition for practical methodological reasons. Second, studying environmental cooperation is the nextimportant task for scholars. Why there is evidence of cooperation, even in the face of environmental degrada-tion, is a useful question to explore.

Defining ecological security more clearly assists in building a usable methodological framework for under-standing how and why some actors cooperate rather than engage in violent conflict over environmental issues.Ecological security is defined here as the goal of stakeholders to create a condition where the physical surround-ings of a community provide for the needs of its inhabitants without diminishing its natural stock. This defini-tion assumes that continued economic growth is derived from the earth. Human survival depends both on ourrecognition of this dependence, and our success at working out the ways in which we use the environment andprotect it. Following a brief discussion of environmental and ecological security, this essay addresses the cur-rent and future potential of a particular set of international actors, multinational corporations (MNCs), as agentswhich advance or impede ecological security.


The terms ecological and environmental security are often used interchangeably by both scholars and po-litical actors. I suggest that for the purposes of clarity and research, environmental security refers more pre-cisely to resource protection. Actors refer to environmental security when discussing the protection and defenseof their natural resources. For example, in the 1996 U.S. National Security Strategy, the preface states, “Protect-ing our nation’s security—our people, our territory, and our way of life—is [this] Administration’s foremostmission and constitutional duty. . . .Large scale environmental degradation threatens to undermine politicalstability in many regions and countries” (ECSP Report 1996: 72). The statement is a reflection of an implicit linkbetween national security interests and environmental degradation as a threat to political stability.

In recent years, scholars have advocated extending the meaning of the term security from primarily politi-cal and military matters to include environmental issues (Mathews 1989; Hampson 1990). Lothar Brock definesenvironmental security as a normative connection designed to cope with the negative linkages between theenvironment and human activities. This includes the avoidance of environmental warfare, war over naturalresources, and also environmental degradation, which he defined as a form of war (Brock 1991).

Some scholars raise questions regarding the term environmental security itself. They question the utility ofthe term as an analytical tool for scholarship (Conca 1994). Others argue that viewing environmental problemsas national security threats might undermine the sense of world community that may be necessary to solve theproblem (Deudney 1991). When environmental degradation is viewed as a threat to societies, national securityscenarios of protecting one’s territory against invaders leap to mind. In a sense, ecological degradation becomesthe invader, the invader that we ourselves have created. This idea presumes that governments only need to beconvinced of “the threat” for them to take defensive action.

Katrina S. Rogers is Assistant Professor of International Studies at the American Graduate School of International Man-agement, in Archamps, France. Portions of this article are reprinted from “Pre-empting Violent Conflict: Learning fromEnvironmental Cooperation,” in Conflict and the Environment, Nils Petter Gleditsch, ed. Dordrecht, The Netherlands:Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1997, with kind permission from Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Ecological Security andMultinational Corporations

by Katrina S. Rogers


There is an added level of uncertainty with the termenvironmental security. It is composed of two wordsthat have independently accumulated a variety ofmeanings and are each value laden. To place them to-gether is problematic in that the effect may be to mili-tarize solutions to environmental problems, rather thanmake security issues green (Deudney 1991; Wæver1995). National militaries, either as instruments of waror as consumers of resources, have played a significantrole in environmental degradation. As such, many eco-logical security scholars distrust the military mental-ity. They suspect that responses conceived in militaryterms would more likely result in accelerating (or evencreating) conflict, rather than solving environmentalproblems and promoting ecological cooperation. Thisconcern will likely remain until policy developments

clearly demon-strate alternativeoutcomes.

Other defini-tions of environ-mental securityhave broadenedthe concept fur-ther. In thesedefinitions, thebeginnings of aframework forecological secu-rity becomes evi-dent. Whereasenvironmentalsecurity refersfundamentally

to the threat of environmental degradation to politicalstability, ecological security refers to the creation of acondition where the physical surroundings of a com-munity provide for the needs of its inhabitants with-out diminishing its natural stock.

Arthur Westing defines environmental security inthe context of a broader human security which he ar-gued has two intertwined components: political secu-rity and environmental security (Westing 1989). Thisapproach coincides with my description of ecologicalsecurity. Political security, he elaborates, includes mili-tary, economic, and social/humanitarian subcompo-nents while environmental [ecological] security has aprotection-oriented and utilization-oriented subcom-ponent. The protection requirement refers to safeguard-ing the quality of the human environment. The utiliza-tion requirement means providing a sustaining basisfor any exploitation (harvesting or use) of a renewablenatural resource. He also emphasizes the necessity fora commitment to the sustainable development of re-sources and the sustainable disposal of wastes in orderfor environmental [ecological] security to be achieved.

Clovis Brigagão evaluates linkages between ecol-

ogy and security by arguing that social inequalities andlocal sustainable development are key to promoting thecondition of ecological security. His list of desirableactions for parties in conflict includes equality of rightsover natural resources, prohibition of ecological aggres-sion, monitoring of ecological conditions, exchange ofinformation on national or regional situations, coop-eration in circumstances of ecological emergency, in-ternational responsibility for the environment, and self-sustained development (Brigagão 1991). In this com-prehensive definition, ecological security is broadenedto encompass social, political, and economic problems.

An umbrella concept such as ecological securityallows scholars to think about security issues outsidethe state-centric rubric which has dominated interna-tional relations for decades. Achieving ecological se-curity encourages, and in fact requires, that multipleactors become involved in establishing goals for eco-logical security as well as offering a number of instru-ments for working towards these objectives.

When an actor is seeking to deal with the systemiccauses of insecurity and environmental degradation,then that actor is engaged in trying to achieve ecologi-cal security. For instance, efforts to restore habitats orprevent their loss (e.g., protection of rain forest or oldgrowth forest), are indirectly aimed at bolstering eco-logical security. Other activities could ameliorate long-term negative consequences of a degraded environmentthrough reforestation, reclamation of wetlands, or re-duction in CFC emissions to slow the depletion of theozone layer. These actions can all be seen as effortsdesigned to promote ecological security.

The following two examples further illustrate thedistinctions between environmental and ecological se-curity. If a state invades another state either for thepurpose of acquiring additional natural resources, oron the basis of protecting, defending, or ensuring con-tinued resource access, that state is pursuing environ-mental security as defined here. These justificationshave often been used throughout history, and indeed,are considered to be common causes of war. In themost literal understanding of this term, the search forlebensraum on the part of states can be considered, atleast partially, as resource motivated.

Addressing the more systemic causes of environ-mental degradation, such as taking long-term conser-vation measures, is an example of trying to achieveecological security. After the oil embargo in 1973, manyindustrialized nations undertook energy conservationmeasures. The United States instituted a national speedlimit in an attempt to conserve fuel. It also passed leg-islation and provided tax incentives for individualswho used alternative energy sources, such as solarpower, wind, and water power. Temporary as theywere, these actions can be seen as attempts to addressthe systemic problems with long-term approaches.

Within the literature of environmental and ecologi-

Ecological securityrefers to the creation ofa condition where thephysical surroundingsof a community pro-

vide for the needs of itsinhabitants without

diminishing its naturalstock

Features - Katrina S. Rogers


cal security, considerable attention has been devotedto the linkages between environmental degradationand conflict, particularly, violent conflict. It is at thesecrucial junctures of conflict that we discover where en-vironmental problems become part of the micro poli-tics of a violent episode. Both the Environment andConflicts Project, under the co-direction of GüntherBächler (1995) and Kurt Spillmann, and the Project onEnvironment, Population, and Security, under the di-rection of Thomas Homer-Dixon (1994), have soughtto find and describe the linkages between environmen-tal scarcity and violent conflict. The results of this re-search has been reported and debated in earlier issuesof this Report and will therefore not be thoroughly de-tailed here.1

The evidence of the case studies written under theauspices of these two projects clearly demonstrates thatenvironmental degradation is linked to violent conflict,but often in an indirect way. The conclusions state thatresource scarcity, in and of itself, does not lead inevita-bly to violent conflict. Resource scarcity has a socialimpact which may or may not lead to conflict, and thiscausation is particular in each case. A second conclu-sion is that environmental degradation can lead to massmigration. These migrants, sometimes called “envi-ronmental refugees,” seek sustenance elsewhere, put-ting pressure on different resource pools. These pres-sures can in turn contribute to ethnic conflict. Finally,environmental degradation and depletion more gen-erally can lead to social and economic inequality whichcan contribute to civil strife. In these three importantways, environmental degradation is linked to violentconflict.

In a world of growing population and dwindlingresources, environmentally-induced conflicts are al-most certain to increase in the future. As more andmore intrastate conflict occurs, it is likely that outsideactors will be invited, or will feel compelled to inter-vene to prevent or to stop violent conflict. Actors mustbe prepared to cope in new ways with problems asvaried and different from one another as the culturesand ecosystems that spawn them. As one U.S. policydocument stated, “we need to seek and identify theroot causes of conflict and disasters before they erupt”(ECSP Report 1995: 50).

Having made this important link between environ-ment and conflict, we are now faced with the challengeof integrating these results into discussions of ecologi-cal security. The results confirm the complexity of thetask before us: to develop environmental cooperationfor ecological security. We now know that environmen-tal degradation and violent conflict are linked, but wealso know that these linkages are often indirect, subtle,and not always predictable. Other variables also inter-act in any given situation of violent conflict, includingperceived social inequality, ideological positions, andethnic tension. Therefore, environmental cooperation

cannot just be about building institutions for commu-nication to address environmental matters. It must alsobe about initiating and maintaining sustained commu-nicative mechanisms for cooperation in a number ofpolitical, social, and economic areas that include envi-ronmental issues.

Integrating these results into discussions of ecologi-cal security allows us to establish clearly defined stepsfor identifying environmental cooperation and promot-ing ecological security on several levels. For instance,the environment and conflict research lends empiricalpower to the idea that states should support multilat-eral cooperation in development programs, such asfamily planning, encourage local communities to ini-tiate or continue the slow, laborious process of build-ing multi-partnership arrangements and improvingcommunication. Lastly, these results, and some of theircriticisms, point researchers to the next step for re-search—investigating cooperation as well as conflict.


Research efforts are beginning to shift focus fromwhere environmental conflict occurs to studying whereit does not occur in the face of environmental scarcity(Rogers 1995). Why do some actors cooperate andothers do not when faced with similar environmentalchallenges? This question, among others, brings us tothe issue of environmental cooperation. Are the an-swers to this question intuitive? For example, can wemake the assumption that democratic governmentswith institutional frameworks become more prone tocooperate? In the absence of such frameworks, willconflict be more predictable? Cooperation in this con-text does not mean that there is an absence of conflict.But it does imply that there is a mutual will amongactors to resolve the conflict through communicativeand non-violent means. These questions should be atthe center of the “next wave” of environment and con-flict research (Levy 1995; Conca 1995).

As we begin to address strategies and techniquessystematically, normative concerns will become moreobvious and more critical. What kinds of cooperationon environmental issues are most useful for ameliorat-ing conflict potential? What are the moral imperativesand limits for actors? What are the parameters of ac-ceptable behavior? Whose definition of ecological se-curity should be implemented? In the absence of con-sensus, the strategies are developing without system-atic attention to these questions. If ecological securityis ever to be achieved, strategies must be developedwhich will allow necessary processes to begin and en-dure. Actors must be prepared to make a commitmentto pro-active, long-term strategies.

In developing strategies for environmental coop-eration and, thereby, the promotion of ecological secu-rity, it is useful to first identify the actors and describe

Ecological Security and Multinational Corporations


Features - Katrina S. Rogers

the instruments used to facilitate environmental coop-eration. Such micro issues as local resource use andallocation are as much a part of the process of achiev-ing ecological security as a state promoting technolo-gies to prevent the depletion of the ozone layer. Ac-tors, however, can be sorted into groups: states, inter-national governmental organizations, non-governmen-tal organizations (NGOs), multinational corporationsand local communities.

When dealing with any of these different actors,strategies for environmental cooperation are needed (1)to address the systemic problems that undermine eco-logical security, (2) to anticipate environmental conflictbefore it erupts into violence, and (3) to cope with en-vironmentally-induced violent conflict. Each of thesegroups of actors has different stakes in each environ-mental issue. Therefore strategies for cooperation mustbe considered first within each group and then link-ages across groups can be sought. We turn now to adiscussion of one of those sets of actors commonly ne-glected in discussions of ecological security.


Multinational corporations are among the mostpowerful economic and political organizations in theworld. Since World War II, the rapid spread of multi-national corporate activity has led to their increasinginfluence as not only economic actors but also as con-cerned participants in the development of governmen-tal and supragovernmental policy. Global exports byMNCs now account for 20 percent of total world tradein manufactured goods (Cohen 1994). This economicpower translates into political muscle as MNCs workto influence national governments and internationalgovernmental organizations in a number of policy ar-eas, not the least of which is the environment. Harness-ing the power of MNCs and encouraging their coop-eration should be one of the key areas for building eco-logical security.

To an extent much greater than is commonly rec-ognized, multinational corporations are extensively in-volved in the environmental debate. Both individu-ally and increasingly as cartels and coalitions, they havethe size, influence, and financial resources to wield con-siderable power in the international sector. They arenow wielding that power more frequently and moreopenly than ever before. MNCs have the potential tobecome major agents for change by shaping techno-logical advances and commercialization worldwide(Choucri 1992). MNCs define markets with their prod-ucts and strategies, and their influence has been cen-tral in determining much of the environmental agendaof the international community.

These corporations help shape present and futureconceptualizations of environmental problems, their

solutions, and the economic structures that currentlyguide the world. In the future, MNCs will investheavily in promoting ecological security. They will doso for the following reasons: the moral imperative, theeconomic benefits, and their public image.

Because they are primary users of natural resourceson the earth, the moral imperative is increasingly anissue among MNC managers. The sense that MNCshave an obligation to the environment is beginning tobe felt in the boardroom. To those alarmed about envi-ronmental problems, this awareness may seem glacialin its movement, but a cogent indicator of the serious-ness of these concerns is seen in the proliferation oftrade journals devoted to environmental issues and thenumber of re-training programs for managers in envi-ronmental management and strategic planning.Growth areas in business include environmental au-diting, waste audits, life cycle analysis, eco-planning,and environmental technology.

The economic imperative for companies has grownwith the realization that at the base of a company’sprofit are the increasingly scarce raw materials whichsupply that industry. This can be in the form of theraw material itself (as in the case of agri-business), orthe fuel used to manufacture any given product, or thefuel itself as the product, or extractive industries (suchas timber, oil production, and mining). As scarcity oc-curs, companies are more likely to view protecting rawmaterials as an economic necessity. The old way wasto find new resources, but as it becomes less possibleto secure or find new sources of raw materials, entireindustries will be faced with protection of these re-sources or extinction. Whether and when MNCs ac-knowledge this reality will vary depending on the typeof industry, the perceived depletion of essential re-sources and particular corporate culture. Furthermore,as environmental regulations have proliferated, so toohas demand for green technologies that pollute less andthat clean up the existing environmental problems. Thegrowth of green technology has not only enabled com-panies to use resources more efficiently but also exertedpressure on industry to plan for a future of diminish-ing resources.

The third motivation for MNCs to make decisionsthat support ecological security is the necessity to safe-guard the public image of the company. The publicand regulators are increasingly demanding informa-tion about the environmental records of MNCs. Somecompanies have become pro-active in leading indus-try toward a more environmentally sensitive and sen-sible agenda. A number of industrial leaders havestressed a corporate environmental ethic, in the hopesof salvaging or improving their industry’s reputationas unfriendly to the environment.2

Concerned observers often point an accusatory fin-ger at the international business community as rapa-cious despoilers of the environment. Critics contend


that the business community must be held responsiblesince it profits most from a global economic systemwhich perpetuates continuing environmental degrada-tion. Apologists usually argue that the business com-munity merely responds to demands made by consum-ers. Therefore, both consumers and producers are cul-pable. Although the point is debated, most businessleaders agree that industry shares the responsibility forenvironmental stewardship. But cleavages also existamong MNCs about how accountable the businesscommunity should be for global environmental prob-lems. There is a tendency to see environmental protec-tion and economic growth as two sides of a balancesheet, where companies need to reconcile the positivebenefits of environmental protection against the costsof that protection.

MNCs are influential in advancing ecological se-curity in four specific ways: (1) participating in treatynegotiations on a number of global environmental is-sues, (2) sponsoring public pro-grams and research, (3) promot-ing public education on environ-mental issues, and (4) creatinginternational institutions to ad-vance ecological security andsustainable development prin-ciples.

At the end of the 1980s, anew surge in environmentalconcerns among the citizenry inthe United States as well asthroughout Europe led to a new wave of regulation onbusiness. Many companies responded by changing cer-tain aspects of their production or packaging processes.These changes even applied to companies producinggoods considered unhealthy for the environment aswell as humans. In 1993 for example, Philip Morris3designed and introduced a recycled and recyclable ciga-rette carton for their best selling brand, Marlboro. Av-eraging 24 billion cigarettes per year around the globe,the company acknowledges that the impetus behindthis change was regulations which had been introducedin Germany in 1992. “The regulatory indicators wereclear,” said a company spokesman. “We had to adaptto tightening regulations and, coincidentally, it turnedout to be cheaper and an effective marketing tool forour European markets. We are now making thechanges voluntarily in all of our European manufac-turing plants.”4

Governments were pressured by domestic politi-cal interests to implement environmental policies thatdirectly impacted business activities. As a result, thebusiness community began to take greater interest inenvironmental debates at the international level. Theywanted to make sure that they had input wheneverpossible into regulation that could effect them on a glo-bal as well as a state by state basis. One of the first

examples of this international lobbying and active par-ticipation in negotiations was in Montreal in 1987 whenthe Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete theOzone Layer was signed .5

During the pre-treaty negotiations, representativesof industry met with government officials, environmen-tal groups, and scientists in informal workshops. Anegotiator at Montreal commented that these informalworkshops achieved a high level of consensus beforeformal sessions began and were unprecedented for thenumber of participants in the proceedings. The coop-erative process by which the Montreal Protocol was de-veloped may have significant implications for futureinternational environmental cooperation (Benedick1988; 1991).

The cooperative atmosphere, which encouragedthe participation of business, marked a change fromthe more traditional framework of confrontational cor-porate lobbying against government regulation. In the

1970s for example, Du Pont and sev-eral other chemical manufacturerswaged a virtual war against theregulation of CFCs. By the late1980s, however, the corporatestance against government involve-ment had shifted considerably to-ward the recognition that some typeof international agreement was in-evitable and necessary. An indus-try lobby group, the Alliance for Re-sponsible CFC Policy, announced

that it would support a reasonable global limit on thegrowth of CFC production capacity. Du Pont was al-ready developing non-CFC technology and looking forsubstitutes that would not harm the atmosphere. Thisrepositioning of industry toward favoring an interna-tional treaty is considered to have been one of the criti-cal factors in successfully negotiating the Montreal Pro-tocol (Morrisette 1989).

The second way that MNCs have become involvedin ecological security issues is through the sponsorshipof research and public programs. For example, a num-ber of companies conduct research on the environmen-tal impacts of pesticide use or sponsor programs forrecycling and green packaging. There are also compa-nies that engage in in-house research on greening thefinancial sections of the company and that have inte-grated environmental management throughout thecompany’s operations.

As Anita Roddick, founder of Body Shop, explains,“we challenge the notion that any business can ever be‘environmentally friendly.’ This is just not possible.All business involves some environmental damage.The best we can do is clean up our own mess whilesearching hard for ways to reduce our impact on theenvironment” (Body Shop 1991). This covenant to“clean up our own mess” involves more than waste

MNCs have the resourcesto assist companies, publicofficials and the public indeveloping countries ingaining and spreading

environmental awareness

Ecological Security and Multinational Corporations


and energy management. It also involves establishingenvironmental goals for the finance department, theinformation technology section, the design and mer-chandising department, and the purchasing section.

As part of their commitment to the community andtheir public image, many MNCs have also added anenvironmental component to their public programs.This includes underwriting the costs for recycling cam-paigns, public lectures on environmental issues, clean-up programs, and urban gardens. For example, theNestlé corporation, the third largest agri-business MNCin the world, believes that industry plays an importantrole in research and public programs. From Nestlé’sperspective, many business sectors depend on nature’sdiversity for their sustainable success. As the world’slargest single buyer of coffee and cocoa, Nestlé is at workdeveloping advanced preservation techniques for themany different plant species threatened with extinc-tion. Nestlé also collaborates with public research in-stitutes to make its results freely available to others(Nestlé 1995). “Above all, we are working to integrategood environmental management practices in every as-pect of the company,” said a company spokesman. “Wedo this because as a food industry, we need to sustainour economic base—that is, the raw material we de-pend on for our products.”6

A third way that MNCs have become involved inenvironmental issues generally is through the promo-tion of education about the environment. These activi-ties are commonly the production and distribution ofmaterials on environmental issues to schools and li-braries. This involvement is often controversial. Somecompanies, such as major oil companies, have beencriticized by environmental activists for using this tech-nique to get their trademark in front of younger con-sumers. Other companies, however, have been less self-serving in their participation.


The three ways briefly described above demon-strate that MNCs often play a role in supporting eco-logical security. MNC responses to environmental is-sues, naturally enough, are based on their experiencesas giants from the industrialized world. In terms ofinstitutional arrangements, MNCs have only recentlybecome involved in building institutions for ecologi-cal security. At the UNCED Rio Summit, for instance,a number of positive initiatives emerged from the busi-ness participants. The International Chamber of Com-merce (ICC), representing several hundred major com-panies, produced a Business Charter for SustainableDevelopment, a set of voluntary guidelines for goodbusiness conduct (ICC 1991).

Transfer of technology is another potential posi-tive industry response. Making advanced technologyavailable to developing countries is important, but no

more important than the transfer of understanding. Inthe industrialized world, building environmentalawareness among the citizenry is an ongoing, and of-ten an uphill, struggle. In the developing areas of theworld, also, people must learn to cope with daily lifein the context of their environment. For the most part,industrialized societies already have effective mecha-nisms in place; such as educational systems, access tomedia and other sources of information, and a support-ive political culture. Acquiring and utilizing the es-sential information for survival and quality of life ismuch more difficult in societies where the environmentis a low priority, where access to information is lim-ited, and where educational systems are inadequate.

MNCs have the resources to assist companies, pub-lic officials and the public in developing countries ingaining and spreading environmental awareness. Theresources available for this kind of technology transferremain vast even in this time of shrinking budgets andconstrained programs when resources seem limited byindustrialized world standards. In industrialized coun-tries, public and private sector resources are availableto foster cooperative projects with less industrializedcountries that provide them with access to information.The challenge for concerned MNCs is to make thoseresources available. The challenge must be to continuebuilding and strengthening global networks for under-standing environmental degradation and resultant so-cietal breakdown. Furthermore, it is critical to fostermechanisms at the local level that are contextual, or-ganic, and adapted to the local culture.

Whether it is due to lack of imagination or share-holder reluctance, the gap between what MNCs con-tribute to building ecological security and their poten-tial to heal wounds they helped to create, is enormous.The next step for MNCs is to establish a number of blindtrusts for advancing ecological security. In this fash-ion, ethical questions surrounding industry’s alterna-tive motives would not be at issue as is so often thecase with corporate sponsorship of public programsand education. Such an organization could support arange of ecological security subjects.

In 1992, an organization with the support of vision-ary MNCs was formed along similar lines. It was calledthe Business Council for Sustainable Development(BCSD). Originally, this small and focused group, setup by senior managers of major companies, producedthe work Changing Course. The first two sentences ofthe Declaration of the Business Council for SustainableDevelopment asserted that, “business will play a vitalrole in the future health of the planet. As business lead-ers, we are committed to sustainable development, tomeeting the needs of the present without compromis-ing the welfare of future generations” (Schmidheiny1992). To achieve this goal, the Declaration argued, newforms of cooperation among government, business, andsociety would require the industrial lobby organiza-

Features - Katrina S. Rogers


tion, WICE, to become the World Business Council onSustainable Development (WBSCD). The new organi-zation now appears to be an industry lobby group withlittle of BCSD’s earlier vision left intact.

If ecological security is ever to be achieved, mecha-nisms and institutions must be built that will allownecessary processes to begin and endure. Institutions,however, have a way of becoming ends in themselves.Institutions and the mechanisms they help put in placemust not be placed higher than the goals that benefitthe environment initially and human life ultimately.The scope of institution building required is massive.The depth and breadth of mechanisms needed toachieve ecological security is daunting. The great di-versity of problems from sub-soil to stratospheric,means scientific input must be multidisciplinary in thebroadest application of the word. Effective mecha-nisms, however, can only be put into place when thereis agreement about what constitutes ecological secu-rity. In the absence of consensus, informal networksand processes will continue to be built but only in ahaphazard fashion. Some multinational corporationshave shown a willingness to accept responsibility andshoulder some of the burden for global environmentalproblems. They have done this through participatingin international negotiations, sponsoring research andeducation, and building institutions. But to date theircontributions fall far short of their resources and capa-bilities.


1 See Homer-Dixon 1996; Levy 1995; 1996; Dabelko andDabelko 1995 in prior Woodrow Wilson Center ECSPReports.2 Three examples are Du Pont, 3M, and Hewlett Packard.3 Philip Morris is best known in America as a tobaccoproducts industry but is also a multinationalagribusiness corporation.4 Interview, 7 February 1995, Philip Morris Representa-tive, Cigarette Manufacturing Plant, Neuchâtel, Swit-zerland.5 Representatives from 24 nations, met in Montreal inSeptember 1987, and signed the “Montreal Protocol onSubstances that Deplete the Ozone Layer,” an interna-tional agreement designed to reduce the productionand use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).6 Interview, 8 November 1995, Environmental AffairsDirector, Nestlé International Corporate Headquarters,Vevey, Switzerland.


Bächler, Günther. “The Anthropogenic Transformationof the Environment: A Source of War? Historical Back-ground, Typology, and Conclusions,” pp. 11-27, in KurtR. Spillmann and Günther Bächler, eds., Environmental

Crisis: Regional Conflicts and Ways of Cooperation. Bern:Swiss Peace Foundation, 1995.

Benedick, Richard Elliot. Ozone Diplomacy. Cambridge:Harvard University Press, 1991.

_____. “A Landmark Global Treaty at Montreal.” Natu-ral Resources Journal, 28 (1988) 3:427-428.

Brigagão, Clovis. “Amazon and Antarctic: A New Lookat Ecological Security.” Journal of Peace Research, 22(1991) 4:43-49.

Brock, Lothar. “Peace Through Parks: The Environmenton the Peace Research Agenda,” Journal of Peace Re-search, 28 (1991) 40:407-423.

Choucri, Nazli. “The Greening of the Multinationals”Dialogue, 95 (January 1992):8.

Cohen, Stephen D. The Making of U.S. International Eco-nomic Policy. Westport, CT: Praeger Press, 1994.

Conca, Ken. “In the Name of Sustainability: Peace Stud-ies and Environmental Discourse.” Peace and Change19 (1994)2:91-113._____. “Critical Review of Various Conceptions of En-vironment and Security.” Presentation to the WoodrowWilson Center’s Environmental Security DiscussionGroup. Environmental Change and Security Project Report1 (Spring 1995):63-66.

Dabelko, Geoffrey D. and David D. Dabelko. “Envi-ronmental Security: Issues of Conflict and Redefini-tion,” Environmental Change and Security Project Report,1 (Spring 1995): 3-13.

Deudney, Daniel. “Environment and Security:Muddled Thinking,” The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists,(April 1991):22-28.

Environmental Change and Security Project Report, 1(Spring 1995).

Environmental Change and Security Project Report, 2(Spring 1996).

Hampson, Fer Olser. “Peace, Security, and New Formsof International Governance,” in Constance Mungalland Digby J. MacLaren, eds., Planet Under Stress: TheChallenge of Global Change. New York: Oxford Univer-sity Press, 1990.

Homer-Dixon, Thomas F. “On the Threshold: Environ-mental Changes as Causes of Acute Conflict.” Interna-tional Security 16:2 (Fall 1991):76-116._____. “Environmental Scarcities and Violent Conflict:

Ecological Security and Multinational Corporations


Evidence from Cases,” International Security 19:1 (Fall1994): 5-40._____. “Environmental Scarcity and Violent Conflict:A Debate.” Environmental Change and Security ProjectReport (Spring 1996) 2:49-57.

International Chamber of Commerce. The Business Char-ter for Sustainable Development: Principles for Environmen-tal Management. Paris: ICC, 1991.

Levy, Marc. “Time for a Third Wave of Environmentand Security Scholarship.” Environmental Change andSecurity Project Report,(Spring 1995) 1:44-46.

Mathews, Jessica Tuchman. “Redefining Security,”Foreign Affairs 68 (Spring 1989)2:162-177.

Morrisette, Peter M. “The Evolution of Policy Re-sponses to Stratospheric Ozone Depletion,” NaturalResources Journal, 29(Summer 1989):815.

Nestlé. Nestlé and the Environment. Vevey, Switzerland:Nestlé, 1995.

Rogers, Katrina S. “River Disputes as Sources of Envi-ronmental Cooperation: Environmental Cooperationand Integration Theory,” in Kurt R. Spillmann andGünther Bächler, eds., Environmental Crisis: RegionalConflicts and Ways of Cooperation. Bern: Swiss PeaceFoundation, 1995, pp. 117-137.

Schmidheiny, Stephan. Changing Course. Cambridge,Mass.: The MIT Press, 1992.

The Body Shop. The Green Book. Littlehampton: BodyShop, 1991.

Westing, Arthur. “The Environmental Component ofComprehensive Security,” Bulletin of Peace Proposals,20(1989)2:129-134.

Wæver, Ole. “Securitization and Desecuritization,” inRonnie D. Lipschutz, ed. On Security. New York: Co-lumbia University Press, 1995, pp. 46-86.

Features - Katrina S. Rogers


Environmental concerns are now becoming an integral part of U.S. foreign policy, but within academicand policy circles there is an ongoing debate over the role that environmental stress plays in creatingsecurity threats. An argument is made here for moving beyond environmentalism and using an ecologi-

cal security perspective to inform foreign policy planning and future defense allocations. Ecological securityrests on maintaining four kinds of equilibrium between human beings and the physical environment. Large-scale shifts in human demographic patterns are threatening these equilibriums and thereby increasing insecu-rity for individuals, groups, countries and the planet. Substantial changes in security thinking are required inorder to address these imbalances.

Developing an ecological conception of security provides one starting point for debating new security think-ing. Discussion then turns to the four most significant demographic issues in the context of the ecologicalsecurity framework: population growth, movements, graying, and differential growth. Finally, a brief commen-tary on the state of U.S. population policy provides an overview of missed opportunities and needed actions.


Discussions of environmental security are now percolating through the Washington policy community.During his recent tenure, former Secretary of State Warren Christopher spoke specifically about the environ-ment and issued directives to integrate environmental issues into the State Department’s core foreign policygoals. The Department of Defense (DoD) has spent billions integrating environmental clean-up into its day-to-day operations. The Department of Energy (DoE) is spending similar sums for environmental remediation at itsnuclear weapons production facilities. And as the “red” threat diminishes, even intelligence agencies are “green-ing” in anticipation of future missions.1

As a first step, injecting green concepts into daily operations is laudable. But as yet there has been littleeffort to move beyond cosmetics and use ecological perspectives to re-orient long-term foreign policy planningand security thinking. Thus, there is now little disagreement that environmental remediation is a positive de-velopment. Likewise, having learned valuable lessons from Operation Desert Storm, there is not much contro-versy at DoD over preparing troops to operate in more biologically hazardous environments in the future. Andthe State Department now recognizes that resource shortages and environmental degradation should be fac-tored into assessments of potential regional conflicts (water in the Middle East) and political havoc (Haiti). Butthis new focus on the environment in foreign affairs has so far been timid and mostly limited to greening ongo-ing operations. It has not revamped foreign policy and security thinking to accommodate broader ecologicalperspectives.

An ecological approach to security is anchored in a broader conception of threats to human well-being.Ecological security moves beyond preparations to repel military assaults from enemy states to ensuring safetyfrom other kinds of ecological and economic challenges. These threats can include attacks by other species(ranging from locusts to microorganisms), retribution from nature (including floods, droughts, and famines),and economic failures associated with ecosystem mismanagement.

Ecological security raises a broader set of concerns not yet commonly addressed in policy forums. Giventraditionally accepted purposes of national security policy, the protection of the state and prevention of large-

by Dennis Pirages

Demographic Change and Ecological Security

Dennis Pirages is Professor of Government and Politics and Director of the Harrison Program on the Future GlobalAgenda at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is the author of Global Technopolitics and editor of BuildingSustainable Societies. Copyright held by Dennis Pirages.


Features - Dennis Pirages

scale premature loss of human lives and potential, thisapproach suggests looking beyond cross-border mili-tary incursions when assessing future threats. Histori-cally, security policy has countered threats that werereadily understood. It was hoped that credible defensemeasures would thwart future attacks. But such pre-dation has not been the only, or even the major, threatto state security and human well-being. For example,while defense efforts against viruses have not tradition-ally been part of security thinking, the deadliest battleever fought was the struggle between Homo sapiensand the influenza virus that began in Kansas in 1918and spread around the world during World War I—itis estimated that nearly twenty million people lost theirlives during this struggle.2

Human populations have co-evolved with variousother species and microorganisms over time within anever-changing physical environment. Ecological secu-rity for human beings has been maximized when thefollowing four kinds of equilibriums have been main-tained:

•Between the demands of human populations and thesustaining capabilities of environmental systems;•Between the size and growth rates of various humanpopulations;•Between the demands of human populations andthose of other species;•Between human populations and pathogenic micro-organisms.

Significant breakdowns in any of these four equi-libriums can have serious consequences. Most pastsecurity efforts have focused on only one of these di-mensions, disruption of equilibriums among humanpopulations. This has been largely due to the fact thatsecurity threats from other sources were poorly under-stood and not easily remedied.

The size, growth patterns, and habits of interact-ing human populations are very critical to all aspectsof ecological security. The following overview of sig-nificant demographic changes permits the explorationof one aspect of ecological security; other dimensionswill be explored in future articles.


There are at least four types of large-scale demo-graphic shifts that can create disequilibriums. Rapidpopulation growth, large-scale population movements,differential population growth patterns, and evenpopulation stabilization and graying can present chal-lenges to human well-being and ecological security.Rapidly growing human populations, for example, re-quire resources in order to maintain or increase livingstandards. But growing human populations often runup against the carrying capacity of territories they oc-

cupy, leading to environmental degradation, increasedvulnerability to disease, and occasionally to violentconflict.3 If needed resources cannot be obtained do-mestically, and if capabilities exist to get them else-where, lateral pressure to move across borders is likelyto develop.4 For long stretches of history Homo sapiens lived inrelative harmony with nature. Numbers grew veryslowly and, while the local en-vironmental impact of indi-vidual populations might havebeen considerable, the globalimpact of human beings wasrelatively small.5 During theearly stages of the IndustrialRevolution, however, theworld’s population began to ex-pand rapidly. In 1650, therewere only 500 million humanbeings on the Earth. This num-ber doubled to one billion inonly 200 years. Only 80 yearslater, by 1930, the world’s popu-lation had doubled once again.The next doubling, to four billion, took only forty years.Today, there are more than 5.8 billion people occupy-ing an ever more densely populated world.

While rapid population growth is frequently iden-tified as a primary cause of insecurity, three other kindsof demographic change also create problems. Peoplein motion—whether moving from rural to urban areaswithin a country or from one country to another—of-ten trigger tensions and hostilities at their destinations.Thus, migrants have recently poured into Germanyfrom Central and Eastern Europe, into France fromNorth Africa, into Zaire from Rwanda, and into theUnited States from the Caribbean and Latin America.They have frequently been met with various challengesranging from discrimination to massacres. And differ-ential population growth rates, such as those betweencertain Islamic states and their neighbors, often lead toconflict and provide pressure leading to large-scalepopulation movements.

Paradoxically, even slow population growth ordecline can have political, economic, military, and dis-ease ramifications. The United States, Japan, and mostEuropean countries recently have experienced steadilydeclining birthrates that, abetted by life-prolongingtechnologies, are shaping “graying” societies and a setof potentially divisive inter-generational conflicts. Theso-called “birth dearth” in these countries threatens topit economically productive young people againstthose who are benefitting from social security andmedicare payments. A future dwindling work forcewill be faced with picking up the costs of swelling en-titlement programs that were established when econo-mies were expanding and labor forces were growing.6

As yet, there hasbeen little effortto move beyond

cosmetics and useecological per-spectives to re-

orient long-termforeign policyplanning and

security thinking


The contemporary world is thus best characterizedas demographically divided. On the less affluent sideof the demographic divide, rapid population growthand related urbanization are creating ecological inse-curities by overwhelming the sustaining capability ofthe physical environment. But on the more affluentside of the divide, graying populations increasinglyconfront problems of chronic diseases and sociopoliticalarteriosclerosis. And large-scale traffic across the di-vide often provokes the wrath of those who see mi-grants as potential threats to their interests. It is thisdivide, largely between North and South, that providesthe context for the discussion of the four demographicchanges challenging ecological security.

Growth Pressures and Insecurity

As human numbers have rapidly grown, ecologi-cal insecurity has increased apace and there are nowabundant signs of stress. For example, the contempo-rary densely-populated world is experiencing increas-ing numbers of so-called natural disasters as burgeon-ing human populations press into areas—river basins,coastal lowlands, earthquake areas—that can be occu-pied only at great risk.7 And the number of peoplecontinues to grow. The world is projected to have 8.2billion occupants by the year 2025, with eighty-fivepercent of them living in the presently less industrial-ized countries.8 It is estimated that 60 percent of theless industrialized world’s poorest people live in eco-logically vulnerable areas.9 Trees that can be used forfirewood are rapidly disappearing before the demandsof growing populations, and the related deforestationis increasing soil erosion and flooding.

Water is another source of insecurity in many ar-eas of the world. Rapidly growing populations in theMiddle East are competing for very limited supplies.Israel and the Palestinians are perpetually at odds overcontrol of water, and Jordan and Syria have repeatedlyaccused each other of stealing water from the smallriver running between the two countries. Similarly,Syria, Turkey and Iraq are constantly feuding over theuse of water from the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.10

Population pressures on land and water are alsoresponsible for considerable malnutrition and evenstarvation. While growth in worldwide food produc-tion has slightly exceeded world population growthover the last decade, this has not been the case in manycountries. When data for the period 1982-84 are com-pared with 1992-94, food production per capita actu-ally declined in 72 countries.11

A widening gap in economic opportunity also par-allels the demographic divide. The richest fifth of theworld’s population now produces 83 percent of thegross world product while the poorest fifth producesonly about one percent.12 And the income gap seemsto be widening: between 1960 and 1989 the per capita

income difference between the average person in thetop twenty percent of the world’s population and thebottom 20 percent grew from $1,864 to $15,149.13 Andbetween 1980 and 1993 there was a decline in real percapita GDP in 53 countries on the southern side of thedemographic divide.14

Economic stagnation and decline is related, in turn,to political turmoil and insecurity. There is a strongrelationship among rapid population growth, poverty,environmental deterioration, social violence, politicalinstability and authoritarian forms of government.15

When politics revolves around an authoritative alloca-tion of deprivations it is difficult for democratic regimesto survive. In Haiti, for example, the combined birthand death rates are unmatched in the Western Hemi-sphere and the pattern of authoritarian regimes andpolitical violence there led to the U.S. intervention toestablish some semblance of order. Similarly, authori-tarian governments and violence have been common-place in African countries such as Angola, Ethiopia,Liberia, Somalia, Sudan, and Uganda.

People in Motion

The rapid rate of population growth on one side ofthe demographic divide and the potential for a birthdearth on the other are related to two kinds of large-scale population movements. The pressures of ruralpopulation growth in less industrialized countries com-bined with perceived, and often illusory, economicopportunities in urban areas are driving large numbersinto cities. And others, driven by the pressures of popu-lation growth, declining economic opportunity, andpolitical instability, are also moving, legally and ille-gally, across flimsy bridges spanning parts of the inter-national demographic divide.

Migrants are moving into the United States fromAsia, the Caribbean, and Latin America at a rate in ex-cess of 600,000 annually. Western Europe is being pres-sured from several directions; estimates indicate thatbetween 1991 and 2000 as many as 4.0 million EasternEuropeans, 3.5 million citizens of the former USSR, 2.5million North Africans, 2.0 million Sub-Saharan Afri-cans, and 1.0 million Asians will have arrived in West-ern Europe.16

People migrate for a variety of reasons. The larg-est share has moved historically in search of better eco-nomic conditions. But contemporary migration is alsobeing fueled by refugees from military conflict, ethnicviolence, and the collapse of states. It is very difficultto estimate the numbers and types of migrants and refu-gees in the world today. The largest share of migrantsremains in the countries of origin. The next largestportion crosses boundaries only within the less-indus-trialized world and an even smaller share crosses thedemographic divide into the industrialized nations.But millions of migrants cross borders quite legally each

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year, and there are several million contract laborers liv-ing abroad at any given point in time.

It is illegal migrants, asylum-seekers, and refugeesthat attract most attention. By definition, illegal mi-grants are very difficult to count. It is roughly esti-mated that between 100,000 and 300,000 people slip intothe United States illegally each year.17 Most industri-alized countries, with the clear exception of Japan, haverecently seen a large increase in people seeking politi-cal asylum. In most of these countries the wheels ofjustice turn very slowly, permitting those seeking asy-lum to stay for long periods or to slip quietly out ofsight.18

The most troublesome political and moral dilem-mas are associated with refugees. While precise dataon migrants and refugees are difficult to obtain becauseof the ever-changing nature of population movements,the United Nations estimates that there are now about23 million official refugees that have crossed nationalborders. There also are nearly 27 million internally dis-placed persons.19 Thus, protracted conflicts, civil wars,ethnic cleansings, and a variety of similar human trag-edies have created a large population of semi-perma-nent refugees, most of whom live dreary and hopelesslives under primitive conditions in refugee camps.Afghanistan tops the list of countries creating refugeeswith three million Afghans registered as refugeesabroad. Rwanda follows closely behind with 2.1 mil-lion refugees.20 The pieces of the former Yugoslaviahave collectively created similar numbers of refugees.

Intense urbanization within less industrializedcountries can also increase ecological insecurity. World-wide in 1965, 36 percent of the world’s population livedin cities. By 1990 the portion living in cities had in-creased to 50 percent. In the “low income” countries,however, the percentage living in cities more thandoubled, growing from 18 to 38 percent. In China thepercentage increased from 18 to 56 percent and in Tan-zania it jumped from five to 33 percent.21

Rapid urbanization is creating a parallel problemof growing “megacities.” Projecting urbanizationtrends forward to the year 2034, for example, MexicoCity and Shanghai could have populations of 39 mil-lion, Beijing 35 million, Sao Paulo 32 million andBombay 31 million.22 Providing adequate housing,sanitation, transportation, jobs, security and otheramenities for such rapidly growing numbers of urban-ites will be a staggering undertaking. So will the taskof maintaining order and preventing epidemics amongthe restless army of unemployed in these crowded andpolluted megacities.

The number of people living in urban areas is ex-pected to double to more than five billion people be-tween 1990 and 2025. About ninety percent of thisgrowth will take place in the less industrialized coun-tries.23 Many migrants to urban areas become squat-ters, having little chance to own land or a home of their

own. More than two million people in Calcutta live inslums and squatter settlements, as do more than onemillion people in Rio de Janeiro, Jakarta, Manila,Bogota, Lima, Casablanca, and Istanbul.24 It is esti-mated that by the year 2000, half of the developingworld’s poor will live in urban areas; 90 percent of theabsolute poor in Latin America and the Caribbean, 40percent of the poorest in Africa, and 45 percent of thepoorest in Asia will live in cities.25

In many large and growing cities, urban crowdingcombined with the lack of economic opportunities isthreatening the social order. Cities in the less industri-alized countries are giant resource sinks, creating a large“ecological footprint” on the surrounding country-side.26 Large quantities of food are imported to sus-tain ever-increasing numbers of urbanites. But grow-ing cities also need tremendous amounts of water fordrinking and sewage treatment; water which is oftennot available. In Dhaka, Bangladesh, for example, onlyone-fifth of the population is served by a sewage sys-tem. And in Bangkok, Thailand, demand is depletingthe groundwater in much of the city and parts of it aresinking at a rate between five and ten centimeters peryear. It is estimated that in Mexico City the center ofthe city has dropped about eight meters over the lastfifty years due to groundwater extraction.27 In addi-tion, urban sprawl often destroys much of the fertileagricultural land surrounding cities. It is estimated that476,000 hectares (1 hectare = 2.47 acres) of arable landis being transformed to urban uses annually in the lessindustrialized countries.28

These trends in population growth and populationmovements (in particular urbanization) combined withpoverty carry dramatic implications for disease. The20th century has been characterized by remarkableprogress in the struggle against the many diseases thatafflict human beings. But there are now indicationsthat the rapid growth in human numbers, the increas-ing density of human populations, poverty, and eco-logical changes are making human populations muchmore vulnerable to disease-bearing microorganisms.29

The World Health Organization estimates that one-quarter of the world’s population is subject to chronicintestinal parasitic infections. Of the nearly twentymillion annual deaths due to communicable diseases,tuberculosis now kills three million people, malaria twomillion and hepatitis one million. In addition, millionsof others die prematurely from a myriad of other dis-eases.30

In the United States, a drug-resistant strain of tu-berculosis, linked to HIV infections, seems to be spread-ing. And the AIDS virus, which is estimated to haveinfected more than 1.2 million people in North America,has infected approximately 17 million people world-wide. More than 9.7 million people are infected in sub-Saharan Africa and 3.5 million are stricken in Asia. Bythe year 2005, it is projected that 2.4 million people will


die from AIDS annually, which will represent nearlyfive percent of deaths from all causes.31

Many of the bacteria and viruses that pose futurethreats are not new. They have coexisted with Homosapiens in various parts of the world for long periodsof time. It is changes in human behavior, populationgrowth, patterns of residence, poverty and rapidity oftransport that have altered the people-microbe bal-ance.32 In the words of Nobel Laureate JoshuaLederberg, “Some people think that I am being hys-terical, but there are catastrophes ahead. We live inevolutionary competition with microbes—bacteria andviruses. There is no guarantee that we will be the sur-vivors.”33 Thus, the greatest future threat to ecologi-cal security may not come from thermonuclear explo-sions, but from disrupting the equilibrium with micro-organisms too small to be seen by the human eye.

Graying and Social Insecurity

Most industrial countries are now well into thethird stage of a demographic transition where the num-ber of births and deaths are roughly equal and thushave reached or are approaching zero populationgrowth (ZPG). The portion of the population underfifteen years of age is shrinking and that portion be-yond retirement age—benefiting from longer life ex-pectancy—continues to grow. In the industrial coun-tries as a whole, fourteen percent of the population isnow over 65 and only twenty percent is under fifteen.In Germany, Italy, Spain, Denmark and Sweden, theportion under fifteen and over sixty-five is nearlyequal.34

The economic, political, social, and health impli-cations of graying have not yet been adequately ex-plored both because the greatest impact of this demo-graphic shift still lies ahead and because of the politi-cally explosive nature of the associated distributionalissues. As Michael Boskin, the former Chairman of theU.S. Council of Economic Advisers, forewarned morethan a decade ago, “A confrontation between workersand retirees will arise that will create the greatest po-larization along economic lines in our society since theCivil War.”35 Aging in each of the graying countrieswill lead to various kinds of inter-generational skir-mishes as unfunded liabilities growing out of entitle-ment programs created during a period of rapid popu-lation and economic growth must be paid for during aperiod of relative austerity. A growing elderly popu-lation expects to receive continued extensive pensionand medical benefits, presently unfunded orunderfunded, at a time when a shrinking working-agepopulation will be hard pressed to pay the bills.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation andDevelopment (OECD) has examined some of the long-term social policy implications of graying within itsmember countries. It estimates that by the year 2030,

27 percent of the population of Switzerland and 26 per-cent of the population of Germany will be over 65. Inthe United States and Japan, 20 percent will be over65.36

This graying will alter dramatically future ageddependency ratios in the industrial countries. An ageddependency ratio refers to the ratio of those over 65compared to those of working age (15-65). In the UnitedStates the ratio now stands at about .20 meaning thatone elderly person is theoretically supported by aboutfive people in the labor force. But not nearly all peopleage 15-65 are employed. By the year 2030 this ratiorapidly increases to .32, meaning that each person over65 could theoretically be supported by only three ac-tive workers. In Switzerland the ratio rises from .21 to.47 and in Germany from .22 to .44.37 In both of thesecountries in the year 2030, there will be only about twopotentially active workers for each retiree. These fig-ures conjure up visions of a new proletariat toiling longhours in order to pay taxes necessary to keep politi-cally organized retirees in the style to which they havebecome accustomed. Since most of these future obli-gations are woefully underfunded, the two or threeworkers supporting each retiree will have to providethe bulk of entitlement funding, clearly a politicallyexplosive situation.

The population of Japan is aging faster than thatof the United States, and the Japanese Economic Plan-ning Agency is concerned about the future impact ofgraying on the savings rate and related economicgrowth. The portion of Japan’s gross domestic prod-uct devoted to social expenditures is projected to mush-room from 14 to 27 percent between 1983 and 2025.38

This is a consequence of the extraordinary portion ofthe population that will be over 75 in 2025. In that yearover half of Japan’s elderly will be 75 or over, andamong them there will be 100 women for every 75men.39 The Japanese are particularly concerned aboutthe impact of these changes on the nature of the futurelabor force, particularly given the existing stringentregulations governing immigration. Thus, robots arebeing developed to supply a significant portion of fu-ture labor.40

The insecurities associated with aging are not lim-ited to the industrially advanced nations. In China avigorous family planning policy stressing one-childfamilies has led to more rapid graying than is takingplace in many other countries. Estimates indicate thatby the year 2040, fully 35 percent of the populationcould be over the age of sixty. This is five times thepresent ratio.41 The dilemma facing Chinese leaders isthat the one child per family policy, made necessary inorder to preserve some semblance of equilibrium withnature, has resulted in an aging population long be-fore enough economic growth has taken place to sup-port extensive social programs. Similar long-term prob-lems likely will be faced by the former socialist coun-

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tries of Central Europe where a demographic transi-tion has been completed without an accompanyingperiod of rapid economic growth.

Adding future retirement and medical burdensassociated with graying together, it is very likely thatthe generous systems of social protection that evolvedin an era of expansion and exuberance are going to in-creasingly be the cause of social insecurity and the sub-ject of political controversy. Unfunded andunderfunded pension systems and growing medicalcare costs will place heavy demands on smallerworkforces in more slowly growing economies. Sincefuture generations do not vote, one of the first casual-ties may well be education and other programs for thedwindling number of politically unprotected youngpeople. It is somewhat ironic that on the southern sideof the demographic divide it is the large and growingnumber of young people that poses a threat to stabilitywhile on the northern side it is the growing number ofretired persons that presents a similar challenge.

To summarize, aging patterns are likely to affectfuture ecological security in a number of ways. Already,it could be argued, graying countries are less enthusedabout getting into military adventures requiring sig-nificant manpower. In the future there is the prospectof social conflict over generous entitlement programs.And graying countries are likely to be at a competitivedisadvantage in international economic competition.

The Hazards of Differential Growth

While rapid population growth frequently contrib-utes to ecological insecurity by disrupting the humanequilibrium with nature, patterns of differential popu-lation growth among societies can be a precipitant ofviolent conflict. Population pressures often force peoplefrom high pressure areas of rapid growth to neighbor-ing low pressure areas of lesser growth. Such differen-tials can precipitate conflict within states shared by twoor more ethnic populations, or can create similar con-flict pressures among states.

Leaders of states with low population growth ratesoften perceive themselves to be potential targets of rap-idly growing neighbors. Israel, with an annual rate ofnatural population increase of 1.5 percent, is threatenedby Arab neighbors with populations growing at be-tween three and four percent. Israel has compensatedfor this perceived imbalance by encouraging large-scaleimmigration, particularly from the former SovietUnion. This, in turn, has increased insecurity amongPalestinians in the West Bank and Gaza areas who fearthat the migrant influx will continue to increase pres-sure on their lands. As former Israeli Prime MinisterShamir once put it succinctly, “A big immigration needsa big Israel.”42 Similar fear dynamics operate withincountries. In countries as diverse as Rwanda, India,Somalia, and Canada, friction between differentially

growing ethnic and religious groups can contribute topolitical instability, conflict, or even massacres.

The rapid growth of Islamic populations comparedto their non-Islamic neighbors is a growing source offuture instability. There are now 40 countries in whichmore than half of the population is Islamic, and an-other seven in which Moslems are a very significantminority (25-49 percent). In recent years these 47 coun-tries had a population growth rate of 2.8 percent annu-ally, while their non-Islamic neighbors in the less-in-dustrialized world were growing at only 2.3 percent.43

Given a seeming increase in Islamic fundamentalismin certain countries, neighbors of Islamic nations aresomewhat insecure in the face of these burgeoningpopulations.

The unstable situation in the territory of the formerSoviet Union offers a vivid example of the pressures ofdifferential population growth. During the 1980s, thepopulation of the Russian Republic was growing at only0.7 percent annually while the populations of theTurkmen, Uzbek, Kyrghish, and Tajik Republics weregrowing at between two and three percent. Further-more, 17 percent of the population of the former SovietUnion was Islamic and this portion was growing at fourtimes the rate of the Russian population.44 The spo-radic violence that continues to occur in this part of theworld is at least partially a reflection of the persistingdifferential growth rates among the ethnic populationsof the region.

Even within the United States, although violentconflict based on differential population growth is un-likely, it will be an important force in re-shaping thepolitical map over the next few decades. The whiteportion of the population, traditionally controlling thetwo major political parties, is nearing zero populationgrowth while minority populations, reinforced by im-migration, are growing much more rapidly. This de-mographic shift is of great interest to both major politi-cal parties as they reassess traditional bases of support.

Differential population growth will also be respon-sible for significant shifts on a global scale. By theyear 2025, there will be six people living South of thedemographic divide for every person in the industri-alized North.45 The less industrial countries will haveyoung, growing, and potentially restive populationswhile industrial ones will be stable, older, and morelikely to be conservative. Various new challenges toglobal stability are likely to come from growing popu-lations, radical doctrines, and revolutionary move-ments arising within large poverty pockets in the South,and it will be increasingly difficult for politicians in theNorth to understand or respond to these needs andchallenges.


Building ecological security requires developing


and promoting global policies designed to restore equi-libriums among human populations, between humanpopulations, with nature, and with other organisms.It implies re-directing defense spending from treatingthe visible symptoms of ecological insecurity to attack-ing the causes, many of which are closely related topatterns of demographic change. It is much more cost-effective to spend a billion dollars promoting familyplanning or AIDS education in potentially unstablecountries than it is to engage in expensive police ac-tions to restore order later.

Promoting ecological security requires a “paradigmshift” in foreign and defense policies that can only bevery briefly explored here. Dealing with rapid popu-lation growth is an obvious place to begin. But attemptsto confront this issue are politically difficult becausemany politicians worldwide are unwilling to take onthe pro-natalist values that were originally shapedduring a period of human history when the future well-being of Homo sapiens was ensured through vigorousreproduction. As John Weeks has suggested, “It mustbe remembered that all nations that have survived tothe present day did so by over-coming high levels of mortal-ity.”46 Thus, U.S. populationpolicy has vacillated from oneadministration to the next, ashave those of many of the lessindustrialized countries.

One of the biggest barriersto dealing with populationgrowth as a cause of ecologicalimbalances is an emphasis onrights at the expense of responsibilities. Instead of tack-ling tough responsibility issues of value and behaviorchange required to restore global population equilib-rium, rights issues now dominate the agenda. Thus, atthe 1994 U.N. International Conference on Populationand Development, the program was dominated by in-terest groups pressing their causes at the expense ofresolute action on family planning. As Lindsey Granthas put it, nowhere does the U.N. “Programme statethat population growth should stop. Nowhere aregrowing countries urged to give high priority to stop-ping (or even slowing) population growth.”47

Another roadblock to resolute action is persistentquibbling among population scholars over the depthand causes of these problems. While there is a prepon-derance of scholarly opinion that the world’s popula-tion is much too large, many academic hairs have beensplit over its optimum level.48 Pro-natalists, such aseconomist Julian Simon, only muddy the waters whenthey declare that the human population is the ultimateresource and “that population growth, along with thelengthening of human life is a moral and material tri-umph.”49 These population “optimists”, for the mostpart living in comfort in the industrial countries, can

ignore the suffering of the growing numbers of starv-ing and malnourished in the less affluent neighbor-hoods on the disadvantaged side of the demographicdivide.

Finally, the timid and contentious domestic andinternational politics of family planning also hinderefforts to shape coherent policies to deal with popula-tion growth. A political split between North and Southfirst became apparent in 1974 at the World PopulationConference in Bucharest, Romania. The industrialcountries, led by the United States, sought the adop-tion of a World Population Plan of Action which wouldhave made family planning a central part of economicdevelopment efforts. But many leaders from less in-dustrialized countries portrayed this as an intrusioninto internal affairs and argued that economic devel-opment must take priority since it is the “best contra-ceptive.” This split persisted over the next decade andsurfaced again at the 1984 International PopulationConference in Mexico City. And, at the Rio de Janeiro“Earth Summit” of 1992 and the 1994 Cairo conference,the core population issue was very much ignored be-

cause of pressure from religiousinstitutions, various women’sgroups, and politicians frompoor countries who blamed thebulk of the world’s environmen-tal ills on the industrial world.

Discontinuities in U.S. policyare also part of the problem.The United States has histori-cally been at the forefront in glo-bal family planning activity.

Throughout the 1940s, noted demographers such asDudley Kirk, Frank Notestein and Kingsley Daviscalled attention to the impact of colonialism on popu-lation growth. These insights influenced U.S. policyand every Secretary of State from Dean Rusk to GeorgeSchultz. The United States began to encourage popu-lation limitation as part of development policy duringthe Kennedy Administration and this emphasis per-sisted through the Carter Administration.50 Since themid-1980s, however, this support has been wavering,held hostage to increasingly bizarre domestic politics.In 1984, the United States astonished family planningadvocates when former Secretary of State James Baker,addressing the International Population Conference inMexico City, declared population growth to be a natu-ral phenomenon that neither advanced nor hinderedeconomic growth.51

The United Nations Population Fund is the largestmultilateral agency providing family planning services,with programs in 130 countries. The United States usedto fund about 20 percent of the UNFPA budget. Al-though the UNFPA has policies that preclude the fund-ing of programs associated with abortion, in 1985 theagency gave a $10 million grant to China—a country

One of the biggest barriers todealing with population

growth as a cause of ecologi-cal imbalances is an emphasis

on rights at the expense ofresponsibilities

Demographic Change and Ecological Security


Features - Dennis Pirages

that includes abortion as a method of family planning—to support maternal and health care as well as contra-ceptive research. The Reagan Administration, seekingto placate domestic anti-abortion forces, seized uponthis as an issue and began withholding the U.S. contri-bution to UNFPA.

When George Bush came into office in 1989, therewas hope that the U.S. contribution to UNFPA wouldbe restored. Bush had been an outspoken advocate offamily planning in the 1960s and 1970s, and even ad-vocated making contraceptives available worldwide ona “massive scale.”52 When he was appointed Ambas-sador to the United Nations in 1971, Bush called exist-ing population trends a prescription for tragedy andchaos, and expressed the hope that greater U.N. effortswould have a major impact.53 But family planning as-sistance under Bush continued to be hostage to politi-cal infighting, and the cuts were not restored. TheClinton Administration has taken a more vigorous po-sition on population growth issues, but a RepublicanCongress has continued to limit administration flex-ibility.

In 1989, 79 countries, including the United States,met in Amsterdam and drew up a plan to stabilizepopulation growth and to extend the availability ofcontraceptives to 75 percent of the world’s women. TheAmsterdam Declaration called for worldwide familyplanning assistance to increase to $10.5 billion by 1991,a target that was never reached. This amounted to fourpercent of the total foreign assistance given by indus-trial countries. Moving rapidly to reach the goals setforth in the Amsterdam Declaration would certainlybe a major step forward in slowing global populationgrowth. The United States could carry most of the fi-nancial burden of such a program by shifting fundsfrom exotic weaponry to foreign assistance.

The Clinton Administration has made U.S. popu-lation policy more proactive and given it a higher pro-file. Clinton restored the U.S. contribution to UNFPAfunding early in his first administration. Responsibil-ity for population policy has been centralized in thenewly created position of Under Secretary of State forGlobal Affairs.54 Yet, as part of the 25 percent cut Con-gress made to the foreign assistance budget in 1996,the resources for international population assistancewere cut by 35 percent. Further disbursement policiesrestricted new 1996 funding resources to 13 percent of1995 levels.55 Hence, despite executive branch willing-ness to pursue international efforts at slowing popula-tion growth, the impact of U.S. leadership is limited bydiminishing resources.

Slowing down the global movement of people isalso difficult, but stemming population growth couldprevent many of the “low-intensity” conflicts that pro-duce bumper crops of migrants and refugees. Stem-ming the influx of people into the cities of less indus-trialized countries requires local action and, for the most

part, has not been a high priority for international do-nors. The situation could also be ameliorated to somedegree by successful family planning efforts. Futuresustainable development requires creative alternativesand educational efforts to keep people from migratingto already dangerous, overcrowded, and polluted cit-ies. Such alternatives might include redirecting eco-nomic growth to smaller cities, as well as increasingeconomic incentives to farmers in order to keep morepeople in agricultural occupations.

The impact of graying in the United States is justnow surfacing, and resolute action will be required todeal with it. Notions that more incentives should bemade available for having children or alternatively thatthe immigration floodgates should be opened, can bequickly dismissed as ecologically counterproductive.New definitions of and requirements for retirement areneeded as well as greater understanding of the bur-dens to be shouldered by coming generations. But atpresent, even small changes in the construction of theconsumer price index are contentious because of theirsocial security implications.

Unfortunately, as the countries on the northern sideof the demographic divide grapple with significantbudget deficits, they are also much less likely to pro-vide the types of family planning and economic assis-tance necessary to help the less industrial countriesspring out of their demographic traps. Coping withthese emerging and linked demographic uncertaintieswill require anticipatory thinking on an unprecedentedscale. These challenges call for a new approach to fu-ture policy-making stressing ecological security, thehuman interest, and the welfare of future generations.


1 These trends have been well documented in previ-ous volumes of this journal. See also Geoffrey Dabelkoand P.J. Simmons, “Environment and Security: CoreIdeas and U.S. Government Initiatives,” The SAIS Re-view (Vol. 17, Number 1, 1997).2 See Alfred Crosby, America’s Forgotten Pandemic: TheInfluenza Epidemic of 1918 (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ.Press, 1990).3 See Thomas F. Homer-Dixon, “On the Threshold:Environmental Changes as Causes of Acute Conflict,”International Security (Fall, 1991); Thomas F. Homer-Dixon, “Environmental Scarcities and Violent Conflict:Evidence from Cases,” International Security (Summer,1994).4 See Nazli Choucri and Robert North, Nations in Con-flict (San Francisco: W. H. Freeman, 1975); NazliChoucri, Population Dynamics and International Violence(Lexington, Mass.: D. C. Heath, 1974).5 See J. Donald Hughes, Ecology in Ancient Civilizations(Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1975).6 See Ben Wattenberg, The Birth Dearth (New York:


Pharos Books, 1989); The World Bank, Averting the OldAge Crisis (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994).7 See Anders Wijkman and Lloyd Timberlake, NaturalDisasters: Acts of God or Acts of Man (London: Earthscan,1984).8 “1996 World Population Data Sheet.”9 World Resources 1992-93 (New York: Oxford Univ.Press, 1992), p. 30.10 Jonathan Randal, “A Dwindling Natural Resource,”The Washington Post, May 13, 1992; See also Peter H.Gleick, “Water and Conflict: Fresh Water Resources andInternational Security,” International Security (Summer,1993).11 World Resources 1996-97 (New York: Oxford Univer-sity Press, 1996) Table 10-1.12 United Nations Development Program, Human De-velopment Report 1995 (New York: Oxford UniversityPress, 1995) p. 14.13 United Nations Development Program, Human De-velopment Report 1992 (New York: Oxford Univ. Press,1992), p. 35.14 Data from The World Bank, World Development Re-port 1995 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995)Table 1.15 See Dennis Pirages, “Political Stability and ConflictManagement,” in Ted Gurr, ed., Handbook of PoliticalConflict (New York: The Free Press, 1980), pp. 432-441.16 “The Floodgates are Bursting,” Business Week (Sept.9, 1991); See also Myron Weiner, The Global MigrationCrisis: Challenge to States and to Human Rights (New York:HarperCollins, 1995) Table 5.17 Susan Kalish, “Immigration: IRCA Tops Out,” Popu-lation Today (November, 1992).18 See Doris Meissner, “Managing Migrations,” For-eign Policy (Spring, 1992).19 United Nations figures cited in Hal Kane, The Hourof Departure: Forces that Create Refugees and Migrants(Washington: Worldwatch Institute, 1995) pp. 18-19, 26.20 The Hour of Departure, pg. 24.21 Data from The World Bank, World Development Re-port 1992 (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1992), Table31.22 Leon Bouvier, “Planet Earth 1984-2034,” PopulationBulletin (Feb., 1984).23 World Resources 1996-97, pg. 3.24 Figures from World Resources 1988-89 (New York:Basic Books, 1988), pp. 36-37.25 World Resources 1988-89, p. 37. See also World Re-sources 1996-97, p. 12 and references cited therein.26 Ecological footprint is the term used to describe theimpact of demand for resources on surrounding envi-ronments in Mathis Wackernagel and William Rees, OurEcological Footprint (Philadelphia: New Society Publish-ers, 1996).27 World Resources 1988-89, p. 45; World Resources 1996-97, pp. 64-65.28 World Resources 1996-97, pg. 59.

29 See Laurie Garrett, The Coming Plague: Newly Emerg-ing Diseases in a World out of Balance (New York: Farrar,Straus and Giroux, 1994).30 World Health Organization, The World Health Report1995 (Geneva: World Health Organization, 1995) Chapt.1.31 John Bongaarts, “Global Trends in AIDS Mortality,”Population and Development Review (March, 1996).32 See Dennis Pirages, “Microsecurity: Disease Organ-isms and Human Well-Being,” The Washington Quar-terly (Autumn, 1995).33 Taken from “Emerging Viruses, Emerging Threat,”Science (January 19, 1990).34 Figures from “1996 World Population Data Sheet.”35 Quoted in Steven Mufson, “Debt Poses PoliticiansStaggering Challenges,” The Washington Post (Septem-ber 29, 1992).36 Aging Populations: The Social Policy Implications (Paris:OECD, 1988), p. 22.37 Aging Populations: The Social Policy Implications, p.32. The German figures are for West Germany.38 Linda Martin, “The Graying of Japan,” PopulationBulletin (July, 1989), p. 6.39 Japan Institute of Population Problems, PopulationProjections for Japan: 1985-2025 (Tokyo: Ministry ofHealth and Welfare, 1987).40 Fred Hiatt, “Japanese Robots Reproducing Like Rab-bits,” The Washington Post (January 2, 1990).41 Jean-Claude Chesnais and Wang Shuxin, “Popula-tion Aging, Retirement Policy and Living Conditionsof the Elderly in China,” Population (Volume 2), p. 7.See also, H. Yuan Tien et al., “China’s DemographicDilemmas,” Population Bulletin (June, 1992).42 Quoted in Jackson Diehl, “Exodus of Soviet JewsMay Alter Israel’s Fate,” The Washington Post (June 10,1990).43 John Weeks, “The Demography of Islamic Nations,”Population Bulletin (December, 1989), p. 13.44 Figures are from Central Intelligence Agency, USSR:Demographic Trends and Ethnic Balance in the Non-Rus-sian Republics (Washington: April, 1990).45 “1996 World Population Data Sheet.”46 “The Demography of Islamic Nations,” p. 18.47 Lindsey Grant, Juggernaut: Growth on a Finite Planet(Washington: Island Press, 1996) p. 240.48 See Paul Ehrlich and Anne Ehrlich, The PopulationExplosion (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1990); Will-iam Catton, Overshoot: The Ecological Basis for Revolu-tionary Change (Urbana, Ill.: Univ. of Illinois Press, 1980);S. Fred Singer, ed., Is There an Optimum Level of Popula-tion? (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1991); RobertGoodland, “The Case that the World has Reached Lim-its,” Population and Environment (Spring, 1992).49 Julian Simon, The Ultimate Resource (Princeton:Princeton Univ. Press, 1981), p.9.50 See Peter Donaldson, “On the Origins of the UnitedStates Government’s International Population Policy,”

Demographic Change and Ecological Security


Population Studies (November, 1990).51 Reported in Chet Atkins, “International Family Plan-ning: Where’s the Leadership?” The Washington Post(August 27, 1991).52 Jessica Mathews, “World Population: As the Presi-dent Turns,” The Washington Post (November 1, 1990).53 Richard Gardiner, “Bush, the U.N. and Too ManyPeople,” New York Times (September 22, 1989); See alsoBarbara Crane and Jason Finkle, “The United States,China, and the United Nations Population Fund: Dy-namics of U.S. Policymaking,” Population and Develop-ment Review (March, 1989).54 Alex de Sherbinin, “World Population Growth andU.S. National Security,” Environmental Change and Se-curity Project Report, Issue 1 (Spring, 1995).55 Alene Gelbard, “Population Issues and the U.S. For-eign Policy Community,” Paper in the Population Ref-erence Bureau briefing kit Global Population: The Factsand The Future (Washington, DC, 1996).

Features - Dennis Pirages


The emergence since World War II of authoritative demographic projections has brought to discussions ofhuman population prospects an unwarranted sense of complacency. Because the projections are gener-ally accepted as expert and reliable, non-demographic analysts tend to see projected population growth

as an inevitable and unstoppable force in human affairs. A common but erroneous statement is that populationis expected to double or even will double in size in the next century or so.

It is my intention to discuss population prospects while challenging public perceptions of population pro-jections. These projections are valuable tools for considering the human prospect. They are, however, misun-derstood as reliable guides to the future of human numbers, and this misunderstanding has potentially hazard-ous consequences. In particular, the apparent mathematical precision of projections encourages the misconcep-tion that there is nothing anyone can do about population growth, when there is very much we can and shoulddo. The usefulness of projections could be enhanced by much more open discussion of the assumptions thatunderlie them, and an occasional challenge of some of those assumptions.

The challenge presented here is based on several principles. One, prediction of human behavior is necessar-ily subjective. The projection process is only objective insofar as it is made manageable by a handful of consis-tent assumptions, all of which depend on subjective judgment about future trends in fertility, mortality andmigration, the three key variables of demographic analysis.

Two, consideration of population prospects ideally should be an interdisciplinary endeavor that takes intoaccount the many factors—economic, social and environmental—that influence demographic variables. Debateon the earth’s human carrying capacity has a history going back to the time of Thomas Malthus (Malthus 1798),and the exercise continues to this day (Food and Agriculture Organization 1984; Heilig 1993; Smil 1994). Therehave been few efforts, however, to make assumptions about demographic feedback loops, through which popu-lation growth itself could contribute to declines in fertility or increases in mortality (Lutz 1993).

Finally, in dealing with the future it is more useful to consider that which could be, rather than that whichwill be. The first category is so much larger in scope, so much closer to the grasp of current insight, and instillsso much more hope for the future our children will inherit that it is puzzling why the second category occupiesthe stature it does. We have it in our power to significantly influence our demographic future. What followswill concern above all the population prospects we could claim for our species if we chose to do so.


We know with reasonable certainty that the human species has expanded in numbers from at most a fewtens of millions of individuals in prehistory to more than 5.8 billion at the close of the 20th century (for this andthe following demographic data, see United Nations Population Division, forthcoming in 1997). Most of thisgrowth has occurred since World War II, in large part because of global triumphs over infant and child mortality.Today, three out of every five people live in Asia, and more than one in three of these is Chinese. Each of theother major world regions is home to several hundred million people, but the populations of each continent aregrowing at different paces: Europe, with 729 million people, is growing very slowly at just under one-tenth of 1percent annually; North America (mostly the United States and Canada), with 300 million people, is growing

Human Population Prospects: Implicationsfor Environmental Security

by Robert Engelman

Robert Engelman directs the Population and Environment Program at Population Action International (PAI) in Washing-ton. His most recent publications include Why Population Matters, published by PAI, and “Earthly Dominion” inBiodiversity and Human Health, published by Island Press. This article is excerpted and revised from Population andGlobal Security, Nicholas Polunin, editor, forthcoming from Cambridge University Press.


Features - Robert Engelman

more rapidly at just under 1.1 percent annually; Asia,with 3.5 billion people, is growing at an annual rate ofjust under 1.5 percent; and the Latin American and Car-ibbean region, with about 485 million, is growing more

rapidly still, at about 1.6percent annually. Standingapart from the rest of theworld demographically isAfrica, with 738 million,where population growthhas continued for decadesat more than 2.7 percent ayear, with only recent signsof falling. The average ofall these uneven rates ofgrowth worldwide isequivalent to that of Asia,or under 1.5 percent.

Despite the everhigher population num-bers, demographic growthis slowing. The annual

growth rate peaked at 2.1 percent in the late 1960s andhas drifted down since. When a growth rate slows,however, growth itself continues until the rate reacheszero. As the size of world population increases, moremodest rates of growth can add larger annual incre-ments to the population base. While the highest ratesof population growth saw only about 72 million peopleadded to world population each year, the current lowerrates of growth are adding about 80 million people.This increment appears now to be declining. In a worldwithout surprises, the projections inform us, the addednumbers will gradually become smaller each year, un-til eventually (around 2200 by the UN’s most recentmedium variant) global births will equal deaths andworld population will stop growing.

Most of the easing of world population growthrates occurred in the 1970s, a response in part to thespread of organized family planning efforts in devel-oping countries during that time period. Fertility wasalso declining rapidly in industrialized countries. Of-ten it fell for the first time in human history below theapproximately two-child-per-couple average that isnecessary (absent immigration) to replace each genera-tion with the one that follows. The significance of thisfor the future of population is potentially enormous.Currently, throughout the developing world, womenare seeking to have smaller families than their mothersand even their older sisters had, and they increasinglyhave the means to achieve the family size they seek. Inindustrialized countries, where effective contraceptionand safe abortion are generally accessible, women canhave the childbirths they want, and total fertility re-mains below replacement level of slightly more thantwo children per women.

The other variable that shapes world population

is mortality. (International migration affects the growthrates and size of national populations, but it has onlyan indirect and dimly understood impact on worldpopulation. Within nations, the dominant migrationtrend is urbanization, which for a number of reasonstends to reduce fertility rates.) Death rates, expressedas the number of deaths per thousand people in anygiven year, continue to fall in most places around theworld. The dominant influences here are at both endsof the age spectrum: relatively fewer children are dy-ing in the first few years of life, and higher proportionsof adults are surviving to old age. Demographers as-sume that mortality decline will continue, placing somefurther upward pressure on the pace of populationgrowth. The pace of mortality decrease, however, couldmoderate worldwide as further improvements in healthcare and nutrition become more difficult to achieve. Ineastern Europe mortality rates have actually risen inrecent years, and in sub-Saharan Africa, the AIDS pan-demic is reversing past progress on mortality rates.Both trends, along with the growing specter of emerg-ing infectious diseases, raise questions about the in-evitability of mortality decline. A serious weakness ofpopulation projections is the assumption of continuedmortality decline well into the 21st century despite thisuncertainty.


The challenge for demographers is to understandthe complex and uneven trends in fertility and mortal-ity (and, to a lesser degree, migration) and to considerto what extent they are likely to continue into the nearfuture. The major population projections are publishedby the United Nations Population Division and, untilrecently, by the World Bank. (The U.S. Census Bureau,the International Institute of Applied Systems Analy-sis and the Population Reference Bureau also offerworld population projections, but these have less cur-rency internationally.) The United Nations offers amedium population trajectory that, according to just-released 1996 numbers, would produce a global popu-lation of about 9.4 billion people around the middle ofthe 21st century, compared to 2.5 billion in 1950 and5.7 billion in 1995. World population would then growfairly slowly, leveling off at around 10.7 billion just af-ter the 22nd century. The single projection offered bythe World Bank resembled the UN’s medium projec-tion (United Nations Population Division 1992; WorldBank 1993). The UN demographers, though not thoseat the World Bank, issue two alternative projections,low and high, at least suggesting that different popu-lation trajectories are possible. Long-range global pro-jections released in 1992 and extending to 2150 includeda total of seven projections. These projections suggesta world population reaching anywhere from 4.5 bil-lion to 28 billion in 2150 (UN 1992). The newly-released

The apparent math-ematical precision ofprojections encour-ages the misconcep-

tion that there isnothing anyone cando about populationgrowth, when there is

very much we canand should do


country-by-country projections suggest a 2050 worldpopulation between 7.7 billion and 11.2 billion.

In practice, however, most journalists and analyststake the UN’s medium variant, or middle trajectory tobe the most probable one, and it is often expressed asthe expected or most likely population future. Theseterms are inaccurate, as projections are at best highlyconditional predictions. The assumptions that prop upthe medium projection in reality simply split the dif-ference between more extreme assumptions. These as-sumptions themselves are at best educated guessesabout how demographic determinants will play out,especially when looking beyond the immediate future.True, recent demographic history has unfolded as pre-dicted by the UN and World Bank’s medium projec-tions. Nonetheless, there have been surprises. Prior tothe 1950s, demographers missed the acceleration of ris-ing life expectancy and falling death rates, so they un-derestimated population growth. Recently, demogra-phers underestimated the acceleration of falling fertil-ity, and the newest UN estimates and projections re-veal a world population that is growing more slowlythan they had thought.

Strictly speaking, no population growth, not eventomorrow’s, is really certain. Until very recently, nuclearholocaust lurked as an ominous possibility. Today, as-tronomers blithely inform us that comets and asteroidscould collide with Earth in our lifetimes. Obviously, insuch catastrophic events, all demographic bets are off.In a world where not only comet collisions but emerg-ing microbial epidemics—not to mention revolutionsin childbearing practices—cannot be ruled out, wordslike inevitable and certain overstate the case. More im-portantly, such language lends itself to the false im-pression that no actions in the present can influencethe near demographic future.


The debate on environmental constraints to popu-lation growth has been long, prolific and occasionallyeven bitter and ad hominem. Only a few points meritmention here.

When potential or supposed environmental threatsare disaggregated and examined in isolation they canoften be made to appear individually manageable. Thisis especially the case when humanity’s historic capac-ity to innovate and adapt is taken into account. Thisapproach is often taken by economists skeptical aboutthe hazards of global environmental change, such asWilliam D. Nordhaus of Yale University and JulianSimon of the University of Maryland.

Each assumption about a specific adaptation, how-ever, presupposes that a specific environmental devel-opment occurs in isolation. Environmental trends,however, tend to occur simultaneously and synergisti-cally. They may reinforce each other all the more if

critical natural thresholds of sustainability are crossed.If, as ecological economists such as Herman Daly ar-gue, economies are subsets of and dependent on eco-systems (Daly & Cobb 1994), and if individual happi-ness and morale are influenced by the conditions ofdaily life (the weather, access to clean water and sani-tation, the price and quality of food, for example), thenthe state of the environment can affect social and po-litical stability as well. And the impact of the whole ofenvironmental trends on human life and death can befar greater than the sum of individual parts.

Environmental trends could influence birth ratesas well as death rates, through increases in involun-tary infertility and intentional decreases in childbear-ing. Logic and anecdotal evidence suggest that suchfertility feedbacks could reduce birthrates. Infertilityappears to be a rising problem from sub-Saharan Af-rica to the United States, although its epidemiologyremains uncertain. Male animals exposed to certainchemicals resembling the hormone estrogen appear todevelop female attributes. Rising exposure of womenfarmers to agricultural chemicals could be influencingreproduction, lactation and maternal and child health.

Equally plausible, declining environmental qual-ity and rising scarcity of critical natural resources couldbe influencing the childbearing decisions of couples andwomen. The apparent positive correlation between eco-nomic development and declining fertility may be morecomplex and varied than once thought. Recent evi-dence indicates that increases in the status of womenand wider access to family planning services are farmore important to fertility decline than national eco-nomic growth (Robey, Rutstein & Morris 1993). Indeed,scarce housing and stagnant incomes may contributeto recent fertility declines in countries as varied as thoseof Italy and Kenya. Environmental factors could playa similar role in the fertility calculus. Carl Haub, a de-mographer for the Population Reference Bureau in theUnited States, recently found in a survey of women inBelarus that lingering effects of the nearby 1986 nuclearaccident at Chernobyl were discouraging many womenfrom having additional children. And a recent WorldBank study of the population-environment nexus insub-Saharan Africa found that desired family size inthe region tended to fall as arable land became lessavailable (Cleaver & Schreiber 1994.). In a world ofresource scarcity, declines or stagnation in economicwell-being may actually encourage declines in fertilitywhere couples and women have some control overchildbearing.

More positively, it is the combination of access toquality family planning services, a chance to completeat least most of secondary school, and enhanced op-portunities for women in the formal economic sector,to own farms or launch businesses for example, thatpowerfully delays childbearing and reduces fertilityamong women in developing countries. Add the steady

Human Population Prospects: Implications for Environmental Security

Features - Robert Engelman

march of urbanization, and fertility decline could oc-cur more rapidly than demographers have assumed.Lacking any way to assess the probability of such syn-ergistic impacts on fertility trends, demographers tendnot to factor them into projections—a fact that can bemisread as a prediction that such changes will not oc-cur.

One mathematical quirk about projected fertilitydecline further weakens projections but receives littleattention. This involves total fertility rate, or TFR, thenumber of lifetime childbirths a woman would have ifshe experienced rates typical of each age group in hercountry at that time. World population projections as-sume that each country will eventually reach a TFRslightly above, slightly below or precisely at two chil-dren per woman and will then settle precisely at theselected figure indefinitely.

This assumption has its roots in history and math-ematical logic. For most of human history, the effec-tive number of children who survive to become par-ents themselves cannot have been many more than twoper women, or else population would not have grownso slowly for most of human history. Incredible as itseems today, families in which only two children sur-vived to maturity must have been the average even inAfrica and India, which had relatively stable popula-tions for hundreds of generations before colonizationby Europeans.

It is possible that traditional modes of contracep-tion, especially prolonged breastfeeding and post-partum abstinence, resulted in significantly lower birth-rates. The dominant influence on what is called thenet reproduction rate, however, was the much higherdeath rates of the past. An African woman of the eighthcentury, for example, may on average have given birthto six live babies. But the chances of any one of themsurviving to become a parent were only about one inthree, and life expectancy probably hovered in the lateteens and early twenties. Seen this way, populationprograms in developing countries do not so much im-pose upon their citizens the alien modern influence ofartificial contraception; rather, they weaken the alienmodern influence of persistent above-replacement fer-tility, brought about as an unintended byproduct oflower death rates (Cleland 1993).

Even more important for demographic projectionis the mathematical logic that dictates that somethingvery close to replacement fertility must be achievedagain in the near future. Exponential growth cannotcontinue indefinitely on a finite planet. In 1974 AnsleyCoale calculated that at then-current rates of growthhuman population would occupy every square foot ofland on earth within seven centuries, and within 6,000years the mass of humanity would form a sphere ex-panding at the speed of light (Coale 1974). Faced withthe impossibility of extended exponential growth, de-mographers assume that current population growth

levels are a historical aberration, and that humanity willreturn to historical near-replacement fertility levelswithin a few generations. The dramatic fertility de-clines of recent decades further justify this assumption.

There is no guarantee, however, that replacementfertility itself will always be two children per couple.If infant and child mortality rates began to rise fromtheir current historic lows, replacement fertility itselfwould rise. Already today, the replacement fertilityrate in high-mortality countries such as Ethiopia is ashigh as three children per couple. In the deep past,when the life expectancy of women was as low as 20years, replacement fertility could have been as high as6.5 children per woman. Obviously, no one would wantto envision a future as grimly fatal as this past, how-ever, so the conventional assumption is that replace-ment TFR is always just a bit higher than two childrenper woman.

Practically speaking, the developers of projectionsmake their best guess as to when total fertility rateswill reach something close to the replacement level ofjust over two and then, lacking any more probable sce-nario, the demographers assume fertility will lock inat this level. The United Nations most recent long-range low, medium and high variant projections arebased on the assumption that total fertility rates stabi-lize, sometime before 2100, at about 2.05 (medium pro-jection), 2.5 (high projection) or 1.7 (low projection).

Intriguingly, the oft-cited medium projection as-sumes that couples and women in industrialized coun-tries will also settle at a TFR of slightly more than twochildren each, even if women in these countries todayhave fewer than two children each on average. In manyEuropean countries and even such developing statesas Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea, fertilityrates sit at levels that will lead (or have already led) topopulation decline. The medium projection assumesthat women in these countries will eventually, in ef-fect, come to their senses and begin having the num-ber of children needed to prevent depopulation of theirnational territories.

How realistic, however, is the assumption that anysociety will reach replacement fertility, either fromabove it or below it, and then remain there? Is theresomething magical about this figure of 2.05 childrenper woman? The reality is that replacement fertility ismore a demographic concept than a force of reproduc-tive gravity for women and men. Many industrializedcountries that have experienced replacement fertilityhave then moved on, without noticeable disruption, toreduce their fertility even further or to return to higherlevels of fertility. In Argentina and Costa Rica, to picktwo examples, overall access to family planning ser-vices and schooling for girls have improved greatly,yet fertility has remained above replacement levels. Infew if any countries has the total fertility rate stabilizedat any low level, let alone two children per woman, for


a long period. Yet this is what the projections assumefertility will do.

The demographic experience of the world to datesuggests that total fertility rates are dynamic and highlyresponsive to the circumstances of women and couples.Although there are good reasons to expect fertility de-cline to continue where families are typically large,there is no particular reason to assume fertility rateswill settle at 2.05 or 2.5 or 1.7 children per woman. Nordoes it make sense to assume that below-replacementfertility will inevitably lead to population decline (sincethe rates may well rise if housing or other economicconditions improve), or that below-replacement fertil-ity return to and stabilize at replacement fertility. Theimplications of dynamic and condition-specific fertil-ity rates for the future of population growth could besubstantial.

What other factors might cast doubt on the popu-lation projections? One of the most important is thetiming of childbirth. The projections assume nochanges in the ages at which women and girls first givebirth to a child. Nor do the projections assume thatmothers will wait longer between pregnancies beforegiving birth to subsequent children. It is the nature ofcalculating TFR, which is based on the number of chil-dren born to each five-year cohort of women of similarages, that age at first childbirth and birth spacing areonly indirect issues. (The approach section of theUnited Nations Population Division’s 1992 long-termprojections, for example, states that the only differenceamong the various projections in fertility is the aver-age lifetime births per woman, with no considerationof the timing of those births [UN 1992].)

Yet the timing of childbirths influences birth andpopulation growth rates with impressive force. Ifwomen wait longer before their first childbirth, andlonger between each subsequent one, they contributeto an attenuation of generations that reduces birthratesand slows population growth. They do this even if theyhave just as many children as they would have hadwith no birth delay or spacing. (In practice, womenwho begin childbearing late and practice child spacingtend to have fewer children.) Moreover, the demo-graphic impact of these practices is immediate. De-layed births weaken population momentum, the forcethat propels near-term population growth even in theface of replacement fertility because tomorrow’s par-ents are already here today.

Yes, tomorrow’s parents are here today. But if theynot only have few children but have them late andthrough widely spaced births, the effects on near-termpopulation growth are surprisingly large. JohnBongaarts, a demographer with the Population Coun-cil, has calculated that if the mean age of childbearingin developing countries were to rise gradually by fiveyears between today and 2020, and if global fertilityrates immediately reached replacement, the population

of these countries would stabilize by 2100 at a level 1.2billion people fewer than would be the case if replace-ment fertility began immediately in the absence of anychange in childbearing age (Bongaarts 1994). Suchnumerical differences could make a major differencein population projections if low and high assumptionsabout the average age of childbearing were taken intoaccount.

Effecting delays in childbirths and longer intervalsbetween pregnancies would be most likely to result notfrom intrusive population-control measures but frombetter educational opportunities and more access topaid employment. Also important would be help inimproving sexual negotiating skills among adolescentgirls and crucial access to a wide range of birth-spac-ing contraceptives. Perhaps most important of all, theevidence is overwhelming that more women and chil-dren survive pregnancy and the first few years of lifewhen the mother is no longer a teenager and whenbirths are spaced at least two years apart. Policymakerscould actually slow population growth by focusingtheir attention on maternal and child survival simplybecause the level of contraceptive prevalence neededto assure high survival rates would lead, as a side ben-efit, to substantial declines in births.


Demographers point to three near-certainties in thefuture of human population growth: Considerablegrowth will occur before population stabilizes orreaches a peak; the vast majority of this growth willcontinue to occur in developing countries; and as popu-lation growth continues to slow down, national popu-lations even in developing countries will age dramati-cally.

Beyond this, we are left with the precisely quanti-fied projections of the United Nations and a few orga-nizations. It is much less clear that these are reliableguides to the prospects for world population. The pro-jections point out where human population is headed,but not necessarily where it will go. If current trendscontinue, and fertility falls toward replacement levelswhile life expectancy rises to the optimum, then therange of expectations for the future of human popula-tion is probably about what the projections describe.Certainly it will be very difficult to stabilize popula-tion at a level below 7.7 billion people without eitherrising mortality rates, which no moral society couldwillingly accept, or delays and reductions in childbear-ing beyond what seems likely today.

In peering into the future, it is useful to considerpopulation projections—all the variants and scenarios,not just the medium ones—as a statistically sound ba-sis for what would be most likely to happen in a futurewithout significant surprises. Then we should con-stantly remind ourselves that demographers have con-

Human Population Prospects: Implications for Environmental Security



Features - Robert Engelman

structed a series of artificial alternatives in which allchange is gradual and limited. These alternatives canteach us about our options in the present, but the fu-ture is unlikely to unfold exactly as they describe. It isdifficult to keep in equipoise this seeming contradic-tion exploiting plausible scenarios for research andeducation purposes while re-minding ourselves and thepublic that no single scenariocan be considered likely in allits details. This, however, isprecisely what is needed.

What, then, are the pros-pects for world population? Itis here that experience, valuesand subjective judgment com-bine for what must be a per-sonal and individual view.Clearly, we must loosen thegrip the medium projectionshave on the limited attention ofpolicymakers and the public.We need at least to bring to greater attention the rangeof growth suggested by the low and high projectionsfor the next century and beyond. And, despite its nec-essarily artificial quality, we should hold forward thelow projection as a vision worth working toward. It isnot a target but a hoped-for byproduct of aggressivelypursued development initiatives that slow populationgrowth while serving more immediate human needs.

Demographers are not convincing in arguing thatthe low projection lies on the very borders of the im-possible. In most instances in which the projectionsrest on unrealistic assumptions—especially optimal lifeexpectancy for all, and continued young average agesof childbearing—logic and some evidence argue foradjustments that would result in lower rather thanhigher population growth. Birth rates could fall morequickly than the projections suggest. As we have seen,unexpected declines are emerging in sub-Saharan Af-rica and other regions. Death rates, unfortunately, mayend up being higher than the projections suggest. Bothof these factors could combine to produce an earlier-than-expected peak in population size.

It is possible, in fact, that population growth coulddecelerate for both commendable and deplorable rea-sons: a simultaneous mix of improved access to familyplanning and more decisionmaking power in the handsof women, combined with some increases in infertil-ity and in death rates that no one could applaud. In-deed, approximately such a mix (with access to abor-tion substituting for the availability of good contra-ception) appears to be responsible for a reversal ofpopulation growth in the former Soviet states. The re-sponsible position for advocates of population stabili-zation is to work to bring down child and maternalmortality while continuing to support universal avail-

ability of reproductive health and family planning ser-vices and the greater capacity of women to use themeffectively.

Humanity today is now crossing a series of sig-nificant environmental thresholds at a time when evendemocratic societies seem disinclined to take such

threats seriously and to helpthose whose well-being ismost threatened. Thesethreats include: early signs ofhuman-induced climatechange, a peaking of the glo-bal fish catch, the growingscarcity of renewable freshwater, massive degradation ofagricultural soils, the globalreemergence of infectious dis-ease, and increasing resistanceamong microbes and pests ofall kinds to drug and chemi-cal attack. Human beings arean innovative species. But in

today’s free-market economies, innovation follows notso much human need as profitable opportunities. Willit be profitable to extend and improve the lives of thepoor? And, if not, will governments or other benefac-tors pay for the innovations that will be needed to ac-complish that goal?

Because the planet and its resources are finite,world population must eventually reach a peak. There-fore global total fertility rates must eventually reachreplacement levels. These logical statements do notmake it certain that women on average will have justtwo children at any particular point in the future. Fall-ing life expectancy could perversely raise replacementlevels above two children per woman. Even on theoptimistic assumption that replacement fertility levelswill not increase, however, a two-child average familyhardly seems implausible. This is especially the casewhen one recalls that a total fertility rate of two is com-patible with the presence of three, four or more chil-dren in many families. Adoption, of course, is an ob-vious but under-emphasized option for those wantinglarge families. But all that is required demographi-cally is that a significant proportion of people of repro-ductive age choose to have only one child or to remainchildless. A replacement-fertility society would nothave to impose a two-child norm.

Already more than two out of every five humanbeings lives in a country in which total fertility ratesare at or below replacement levels. In rural areas, land,fresh water and fuelwood are increasingly scarce, en-couraging new thinking about the benefits of smallfamilies. The rising necessity and growing costs toparents of education and the onward march of urban-ization contribute to the same reexamination of the costsand benefits of large and unplanned families. This is

In peering into the future, it isuseful to consider populationprojections—all the variantsand scenarios, not just the

medium ones—as a statisti-cally sound basis for what

would be most likely to happenin a future without significant



especially the case as more people are exposed to theglobal information network with its enticing visions ofoptions and possibilities beyond raising a large family.Added to these social factors is the growing commit-ment of countries, with some notable exceptions, todevelop and implement population policies and to basethem on improved access to voluntary family planningand reproductive health services and better overallopportunities for women. The consensus reached atthe 1994 International Conference on Population andDevelopment (ICPD) in Cairo has not yet produced theneeded shift of financial resources to population andhuman development efforts. But the conference suc-ceeded in establishing an international standard for thework ahead. As governments search for guidance indealing with demographic pressures, the ICPD’sProgramme of Action offers a set of strategies that coulddramatically slow population growth while producingimmediate improvements in the lives of women andmen.

While the number of women of reproductive agegrows by about 24 million each year (Population Ac-tion International 1996), an estimated 228 millionwomen, one out of every six of reproductive age in theworld, lack effective contraceptive protection (AlanGuttmacher Institute 1995). Nonetheless, there is rea-son for optimism. Historical experience suggests that,once launched, major movements for human rightsrarely retreat. It seems likely that women will expandtheir influence in economic, political and social spheres.Their rights will be more widely respected in the nextcentury than in this one.

The idea of planned pregnancy, too, moves inexo-rably forward. The past three decades have seen con-traceptive prevalence grow from 10 percent to 55 per-cent of developing world couples. This suggests aworld of satisfied clients, and a powerful and perva-sive force that is likely to become more so in the com-plex and hazardous times that lie ahead.

The future of world population depends in largepart on the willingness of nations to invest the finan-cial resources needed—about $17 billion a year by theend of this decade, a relative pittance compared to mili-tary spending—to insure universally available repro-ductive health care. This would include access to fam-ily planning for those who seek it, combined with ma-ternal and child health care and the preventive servicesaimed at sexually transmitted disease. If the resourceswere invested wisely, something roughly resemblingthe low projection of population growth could beachieved even with continuing declines in death rates.Two complicating factors deserve brief mention here:abortion, and China’s population program. Changesin either could significantly effect world populationgrowth. Although the demographic implications ofabortion are rarely discussed, they are significant.While 190 million pregnancies occur each year, 51 mil-

lion of these end in abortion—21 million in countrieswhere the procedure is illegal. Since the world’s popu-lation is growing by 80 million people each year, elimi-nation of abortion without decline in unintended preg-nancy would spur population growth by dramaticallyraising birth rates. On the other side, the proportionof births desired at the time they occur varies from anestimated 76 percent in sub-Saharan Africa to a mere38 percent in Latin America (Alan Guttmacher Insti-tute 1995). Wider access to safe and legal abortionaround the world would undoubtedly reduce the manybirths that result from unintended pregnancy. Over-shadowing the demographic implications, however, isthe fact that access to safe abortion is critical to thehealth and survival of women, especially poor women.An estimated 500,000 women die each year from causesrelated to pregnancy and childbirth, and more than100,000 of these deaths are the result of unsafe abor-tions. The safest bet is that the status of abortion willcontinue as today, with varied legality and accessibil-ity, and thus will not trigger any demographic surprises.

The high visibility of China’s population policy ex-cesses raises difficult questions in the population field.Ultimately, population stabilization is more likely tooccur—and endure—on the basis of voluntary child-bearing decisions rather than from the kind of govern-ment mandates and pressures that characterize China’spolicies and programs. Population stabilization can-not be built upon the kind of short-term changes in fer-tility that coercive population-control programs mayproduce temporarily but cannot sustain. To help rap-idly growing countries stabilize their populations, pro-grams and policies will have to succeed not on timescales of political terms of office, but over generations.And to succeed at this they will have to be based uponpopular consent and participation.

Population policies and programs can help servethe demographic goals of a society, but only by serv-ing primarily the private and felt needs of couples andindividuals. Realistically, the future is likely to see lessrather than more population control—meaning directgovernment attempts to bring population size to a tar-get range—just as it is seeing less rather than more eco-nomic and political control.

Should governments nonetheless aim for an opti-mum world or national population size? Some ana-lysts have suggested that such a number could be iden-tified and perhaps even arrived at, but there is goodreason for skepticism. The world is too complex. Thefigure would vary substantially—even if we had theneeded data and understanding, which we do not—depending on the environmental issue or natural re-source chosen for examination. More importantly,there is no population policy imaginable that wouldrespect human rights, and thus be worth supporting,and that would also take us precisely to this hypotheti-cal demographic state of heavenly stasis. While popu-

Human Population Prospects: Implications for Environmental Security


lation dynamics do respond powerfully to governmen-tal and private initiatives, the very idea of populationcontrol is fundamentally unworkable. As long as hu-man freedom is paramount among our values, repro-ductive freedom should and will be highly valued. Wecan no more control population than we can controlpeople themselves.

It makes more sense to work for better understand-ing among all people of the linkages between popula-tion and environmentally sustainable development.Policies can then tolerate and even encourage the low-est fertility levels consistent with the free and respon-sible decisions of women and men to have the numberof children they desire. If such a goal is ever achieved,solutions to still-threatening environmental and othersocial problems will need to be sought exclusivelyamong non-demographic contributing factors. We are,however, a long way from this point. For the foresee-able future, policies that improve the lives of women,especially those that allow them to make their own de-cisions about the timing of pregnancy, will contributepowerfully to a better world for all human beings.


Alan Guttmacher Institute (1985). Hopes and Realities:Closing the Gap Between Women’s Aspirations and TheirReproductive Experiences. The Alan Guttmacher Institute,New York, NY, USA: 56 pp., illustr.

Bongaarts, J. (1994.) “Population Policy Options in theDeveloping World,” in Science. 263, pp. 771-776.

Cleaver, K.M. &Schreiber, G.A. (1994). Reversing the Spi-ral: The Population, Agriculture and Environment Nexusin Sub-Saharan Africa. The World Bank, Washington, DC,USA: 293 + xii pages.

Cleland, J. (1993). “Equity, security and fertility: a reac-tion to Thomas,” in Population Studies, 47, pp. 345-352.

Coale, A.J. (1974). “The History of the Human Popula-tion,” in Human Population, Scientific American. NewYork, NY, USA: viii + 147 pp.; illustr.; pp. 15-25.

Daly, H.E. & Cobb, J.B., JR (1994). For the Common Good:Redirecting the Economy Toward Community, the Environ-ment and a Sustainable Future. [Second edition, updatedand expanded. Beacon Press, Boston, Massachusetts,USA: viii + 534 pp., illustr.]

Food and Agricultural Organization (1984). Land, Food,and People. Food and Agriculture Organization, Rome,Italy: vi + 96 pp., illustr.

Heilig, G. K. (1993). “How many people can be fed onearth?,” in The Future Population of the World: What Can

We Assume Today? (Ed. W. Lutz): pp. 207-261. Earthscan,London, England, UK (for the International Institutefor Applied Systems Analysis): xx + 484 pp.

Lutz, W. et al. (1993). “World population projectionsand possible ecological feedbacks,” in POPNET, Inter-national Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, 23, p.1.

Malthus, T.R. (1798). An Essay on the Principle of Popula-tion as it Affects the Future Improvements of Society. [Re-print 1926. MacMillan., London, England, UK: 396 +xxvii pp.]

Population Action International (1996). Why Popula-tion Matters. Population Action International, Washing-ton, DC, USA: 55 pages.

Robey, B., Rutstein, S. & Morris, L. (1993). “The Fertil-ity Decline in Developing Countries,” in ScientificAmerican, 269(6), pp. 60-67.

Smil, V. (1994). “How many people can the Earth feed?”in Population and Development Review. 20(2), pp. 255-292.

United Nations Population Division (1992). Long-RangeWorld Population Projections: Two Centuries of PopulationGrowth 1950-2150. United Nations Population Division,New York, NY, USA: ix + 35 pp.

United Nations Population Division (Forthcoming in1997). World Population Prospects: The 1996 Revision,Annex Tables. United Nations Population Division, NewYork, NY, USA, 255 pp.

World Bank (1993). The World Bank World Population Pro-jections, 1992-1993 edition. Johns Hopkins UniversityPress, Baltimore, Maryland, USA: vii + 515 pp.

Features - Robert Engelman


Special Reports

NATO/CCMS1 Pilot Study:

Environment and Security in anInternational Context

State of the Art and PerspectivesInterim ReportOctober 1996

Alexander Carius, Melanie Kemper, Sebastian Oberthür, Detlef SprinzECOLOGIC—Centre for International and European Environmental Research

This section highlights the work of various organizations on issues of environmental change and security. This issueincludes reports from Ecologic - Centre for International and European Environmental Research, the Master of Science inForeign Service Program at Georgetown University, and the Natural Heritage Institute.


. . .The Round Table on Environmental Security, which took place during the NATO/CCMS Plenary Meeting inWashington D.C. on November 14, 1995, highlighted the importance of the relationship between environmentand security and marked the start of the Pilot Study on “Environment and Security in an International Context.”The establishment of the Pilot Study pays tribute to the fact that, while research has advanced steadily duringthe last ten years, large gaps still exist in the knowledge about the correlation and interaction of environmentand security issues. Much remains to be done to raise public awareness and to inform policymakers. The PilotStudy group met for the first time from April 17 to 18, 1996 in Waldbröl, Germany and adopted the Methodol-ogy and Structure for the Pilot Study. All documents are available on the NATO CCMS Environmental Clear-inghouse System (ECHS) World Wide Web site.2. . .The present report first takes stock of the current state of knowledge about the relationship between theenvironment and security. Section 2 of the report briefly reviews the conceptual issues surrounding the discus-sion on the environment and security. Section 3 deals with the development of data collection and indicatorsthat are needed for threat assessment and priority-setting. Section 4 summarizes existing knowledge about themajor problems and problem regions with regard to environmental risks to security. Section 5 describes thepolitical and institutional options at the international level that are currently pursued or under discussion andmight deserve further investigation. Finally, in section 6, some recommendations regarding the substance andstructure of the future activities of the Pilot Study are outlined.


. . .There are many meanings of security in everyday language, but in international politics and in securitypolicy in particular, the term “security” generally refers to the absence of violent conflict, the continued exist-

Alexander Carius is the Director of Ecologic; Sebastian Oberthür is a Senior Fellow at Ecologic; Melanie Kemper is aResearch Assistant at Ecologic; and Detlef Sprinz is a Research Fellow at the Institute for Climate Impact Research, Potsdam.The above is an excerpt from the interim report which was prepared by Ecologic - Centre for International and EuropeanEnvironmental Research, Berlin and Potsdam - Institute for Climate Impact Research, for the Federal Ministry of theEnvironment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, Federal Republic of Germany.


degradation and resource scarcities are generated andperceived. Resource scarcities might lead either directlyto potentially violent conflict or to secondary socialproblems with the potential for causing violent con-flict. Environmental degradation, including naturaldisasters, might result in secondary problems by meansof which they become indirect causal factors of violentconflicts. Whether or not resource scarcities and/orenvironmental degradation will lead to the outbreakof violent conflict in a particular instance, however, isdependent on the framework conditions.

The influence pathways shown in Figure 1 are notalways one-way relationships. At the most basic level,the underlying framework conditions might them-selves be influenced by environmental problems, sec-ondary social problems, or any resulting violent con-flict. Furthermore, secondary social problems mightfeed back to the environmental problems that causedor contributed to them in the first place. For example,a country experiencing food scarcities as a result of soilerosion caused by overly intensive use of agriculturalland may increase the intensity of agricultural land useeven further. This results in further soil erosion, exac-erbating the pre-existing food problems. This is alsotrue with regard to the relationship between environ-mental degradation and the scarcity of natural re-sources. For example, global climate change might leadto reduced water availability in certain regions. Finally,violent conflict can also result in reinforcing social prob-lems as well as environmental problems and resourcescarcities by the destruction of societal structures andthe environment.

These feedback relationships are not included inFigure 1 because its purpose is to depict possible path-ways of environmental problems leading to violentconflict. Whether environmental change actually leadsto social problems and, consequently, contributes to theemergence of violent conflict in a particular instancedepends on the underlying framework conditions andon the political strategies and measures chosen to dealwith the different issues. If preventive measures aretaken and prudent policies are employed in time, theconflict potential emanating from environmental stresscan be minimized.

At the same time, in cases where environmentalproblems are a major cause of the outbreak of violentconflict, such problems will hardly be the only factorsthat need to be considered. Usually, environmentalproblems will be only one of many factors and will berelevant to security issues only under certain circum-stances. For example, sea level rise resulting from an-thropogenic climate change may contribute to conflictin less developed countries where its destabilizing ef-fect is reinforced by an unstable political system whichis also experiencing distributional or ethnic problems.

. . .One question that has not yet been answered toany satisfaction is how can the relevance of environ-

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ence, integrity and sovereignty of states (“national se-curity”) and the peaceful coexistence of states in theinternational system (“international” or “global secu-rity”). The perception of what are the causes of threatsto security and what are thus security issues has broad-ened over the years. In the wake of the oil price shocksin the 1970s and the heightened awareness for grow-ing international economic interdependence, economicconsiderations were taken into account in defining se-curity. Likewise, after the rise of global environmentalissues onto the agenda of international politics, the re-lationship between environment and security has be-come a major subject of scientific as well as politicaldiscussion. In this context, the term “environment” isrelated to environmental problems like air or waterpollution, natural disasters such as major storms, aswell as to natural resources.3 The next section discussesthe role of environmental degradation and resourcescarcities as causes of violent conflict.4



The relationship between environment and secu-rity can be subsumed under two fundamental environ-ment-security linkages. These refer to problems of en-vironmental degradation (including natural catastro-phes) and resource depletion or scarcity as a conse-quence of military activity in times of peace and war5on the one hand and a direct or indirect source of con-flict on the other.

It is the role of environmental degradation and re-source scarcities as causes of violent conflicts that needsfurther study and that is of special concern to NATO.



. . .The potential causal pathways leading fromenvironmental degradation and scarcities of naturalresources to violent conflict are presented and system-atized in Figure 1.

Figure 1 shows three levels to be distinguished re-garding the relationship between environment and se-curity. At the most basic level, there are certain frame-work conditions or societal capacities, most impor-tantly: (1) the characteristics of the political system; (2)the existing knowledge about an issue; (3) the economicand technological options available; and, (4) the cul-tural and ethnic characteristics of the society or societ-ies involved. Under the heading of framework condi-tions situational factors (e.g. a change of government,current diplomatic tensions, sudden increases/de-creases of commodity prices, etc.) should also be con-sidered. These framework conditions influence allother elements and relationships depicted in Figure 1.They build the foundation on which environmental


mental problems in contributing to the generation ofviolent conflict be determined and measured, given thatin any specific case environmental factors are only onepart of a whole set of relevant factors. From a preven-tive perspective, it would be desirable to identify envi-ronmental problems or sets of environmental problemsthat—under certain framework conditions—are ormight become particularly serious threats to security.Apart from the problems of measurement and quanti-fication, there is currently no consensus concerning thethreshold of severity above which environmental prob-lems may be related to security. It is evident, however,that if too low a threshold is chosen, the analysis of therelationship between the environment and securitywould only duplicate the work which is carried out inthe context of the discussions on sustainable develop-ment.

Although the sustainable development agendashould not be duplicated by the investigation of envi-ronment-security linkages, both issues are certainlyclosely related. In considering the role of environmen-tal problems as threats to security, those items on thesustainable development agenda requiring specific at-tention because of their security relevance need to behighlighted. A list of the environmental issues whichare most prone to becoming security threats remainsto be determined. Tackling those environmental threatsto security as a matter of priority might serve environ-mental as well as security purposes. Furthermore,achieving security in the military sense is a major pre-condition for the success of any strategy aimed at reach-ing sustainability. This is because violent conflict and

the destruction resulting from it necessarily counter-act efforts to realize sustainable development. Thus,mitigating environmental problems that might causeor contribute to violent conflicts is itself a contributionto sustainable development. By the same token, sus-tainable development can be seen as a major precondi-tion of security, and its realization will alleviate anyenvironmental threats to security.


Explorative research on environment and securityhas primarily relied on case studies. However, in or-der to generalize across larger sets of cases, it is indis-pensable to build a stronger database. While there ap-pears to be a lack of specific databases on environmentand security, a variety of data sources has incorporatedsome relevant clusters of variables.

Variables of interest to the environment and secu-rity field range widely in the literature. Therefore, somedelimitation is necessary. We focus on four major clus-ters of variables:

•human driving forces (pressures on the environment);•state of the environment (environmental perfor-mance);•policy response (e.g. instruments); and•indicators of violence.

A brief review of prominent reports by interna-tional governmental and non-governmental organiza-tions as well as relevant research projects shows that

Figure 1-The Role of the Environment in Contributing to Violent Conflict

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existing data sets cover at least a minimum range ofeconomic and demographic variables under the cat-egory of human driving forces. However, the data setmost frequently used for research on international andcivil war (Correlates of War data sets) omits environ-mental variables.

The geographical and temporal scope of the data-bases vary. In some cases, yearly variable scores areavailable since the early 19th century until 1995; otherdata sets include only the past decade or only a fewtime points from the post-World War II period. In termsof geographic coverage, data collection ranges fromnine countries (for a structured comparative case study)to worldwide coverage.

Many of the data collection efforts have been in-spired by the notion of sustainability. To this end, avariety of institutions—such as the World Bank and theWorld Resources Institute—have contributed frame-works of analysis which build on the first three clus-ters of variables mentioned above (human drivingforces, state of the environment, and responses). How-ever, no universally accepted indicators for sustainabledevelopment exist. Most prominent may be the at-tempts by UNEP to construct a “human developmentindex” (HDI) which serves as an “early warning indi-cator”—especially in the context of “secondary socialproblems” (see Sections 2 and 4). Environmentalsustainability indicators are neither integrated withindicators of violence nor with the HDI. Overall, re-search on sustainable development indicators is still atthe stage of conceptualization rather than at the stageof mature data integration and evaluation. The reviewshows very few data sets specializing on environmentand security.

In general, there is little integration of all four clus-ters of variables mentioned above. In particular, mostdatasets include either environmental policy responsevariables or variables of violence—but rarely bothgroups. This is regrettable since for the purposes ofthe Pilot Study, both groups of variables must be con-sidered simultaneously to find the necessary and suf-ficient conditions for the onset of environmentally in-duced violence—and the ways to prevent its occur-rence. Thus, the best approach to data integration ap-pears to be consolidating databases which use the driv-ing forces—state of the environment—response frame-work and integrating it with databases specializing oncivil and international war. These attempts will be ham-pered by a lack of congruity of the temporal and geo-graphical scope of present databases.

Data sets specifically covering environment and se-curity are at an early stage of development. Further-more, there appears to be a lack of universally agreedupon indicators and indexes on environment and se-curity In conclusion, the current data sources on envi-ronment and security are likely to be insufficient forsystematically assessing the crucial link between envi-

ronmental pressures, state of ecosystems, related so-cial problems, and governmental response, as well asthe occurrence of violence. Therefore, more structuredefforts have to be undertaken to substantiate findingsin support of better informed public policy on envi-ronment and security.


The following discussion tries to reflect the empha-sis of recent research activities, but does not pretend topresent a comparative assessment of which issuesmight be the major environmental threats to securityand which regions might be most seriously affected.


A distinction has to be made between natural re-source scarcities and environmental degradation ascauses of violent conflict. As explained in Section 2,scarce natural resources and their distribution can be adirect and indirect cause of violent confrontation,whereas, in general, the causal pathway from environ-mental degradation to violent conflict leads throughsecondary social problems. Neither of these problemsby itself necessarily leads to violent conflict. In factmost of them are dealt with successfully in a non-vio-lent way. The significance of an environmental prob-lem is dependent on the context it encounters—e.g.social, economic, political, cultural, religious, and eth-nic factors. A water problem between Israel and Jor-dan has different implications than a similar disputebetween Canada and the United States. In this Sec-tion, (1) selected social problems relevant to environ-ment and security are discussed. (2) The main prob-lems of environmental degradation and (3) resourcescarcities are also reviewed.

(1) Secondary social problems

The most examined social problem that can be en-vironmentally induced is migration. For example, en-vironmental problems contribute to rural-urban migra-tion in developing countries. This results in overflow-ing slums in large cities which in turn contribute topolitical instability. In rural areas, the loss of grazingland as a consequence of soil erosion may lead nomadsto migrate into regions where farmers settle, thus cre-ating conflicts over the distribution of the land whichmay become violent. In general, many environmentalproblems, including changes in the availability of wa-ter, land degradation, and natural disasters, etc., maycause or contribute to migration. Migration may be-come an even more serious issue if it moves beyondnational boundaries. It may not only be the result ofenvironmental problems, but may also be the cause ofnew environmental problems at the place of arrival.

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Another secondary social problem that may feedback to political instability as well as environmentalproblems is poverty. As the economy and the environ-ment are inter-related, it is often difficult to differenti-ate between their role in conflict. However, less devel-oped countries earning a large portion of their nationalincome by agricultural production may lose part oftheir income as a result of natural disasters or land deg-radation. In some African countries it has been esti-mated that dryland degradation has significantly re-duced the gross domestic product.

Environmental degradation or soil salination maylead to limited food availability and famines, which in turncontribute to political instability. A well known ex-ample is Africa’s Sahel Desert where overgrazing,droughts, and soil erosion have caused famines, andwhere examples of violent conflict are numerous. Whilesuch social problems are seemingly local or regionalevents resulting from overuse of certain natural re-sources, global environmental change might also con-tribute to social problems by shifting the balance be-tween humans and their environment.

Changes in the environment and in human behav-ior can contribute to increased health problems that, es-pecially if they are epidemic, may become security con-cerns. In particular, global climate change and changesin the water cycle may induce the migration of micro-organisms into densely populated areas. Health prob-lems, by enhancing the above mentioned social prob-lems, can lead to violent conflict. Epidemic diseasesmight, for example cause people to migrate and mayresult in poverty and famines. Also, migration, pov-erty, and famines can easily feed back to health prob-lems by contributing to the creation of squalid livingconditions which promote the spread of infectious dis-eases.

(2) Environmental degradation

Regarding issues of anthropogenic global environ-mental change—ozone depletion, loss of biodiversity,climate change, desertification, deforestation—globalclimate change may be considered the greatest threatto security. Its consequences could easily alter the avail-ability and distribution of resources. This could leadto the above mentioned social problems which mayresult in violent conflict. Changes in precipitation lev-els and desertification due to global climate changemay, for example, affect the availability of freshwaterand the capacity for vegetation growth. Change ofocean currents may result in changing or loss of fish-ing grounds. Sea level rise will lead to land loss, in-ducing a migration problem. The same might becometrue for regions affected by increased frequency andseverity of extreme weather conditions, such as floods,hurricanes, droughts, and fires, due to global climatechange.

Today, however, local and regional environmental deg-

radation, especially the erosion of arable and grazingland, have shown a particularly high potential to con-tribute to violent conflict. Large areas of degraded soilcan be found around the world (e.g. Horn of Africa,Iran, Iraq, India, Mongolia, China, Central America, andthe Amazon basin) and is one of the major environ-mental causes of migration. Land degradation maythus easily aggravate existing scarcities of fertile soilwhich is an ecological resource that has frequently beeninvolved in war.

Pollution is another environmental problem thatgenerally contains a potential for conflict because itscosts may be distributed unevenly. The recent violentincidents in the Niger delta, for example, are partly dueto pollution. Another example of pollution-inducedconflict is the case of the Trail smelter in Canada whichaffected the United States. The dispute was settled bythe International Court of Justice. Pollution might alsocontribute to the above mentioned social problems bytriggering migration, damaging food production andhuman health etc.

Natural disasters, such as the eruption of a volcano,major storms, floods, droughts, fires, earthquakes, ormassive pest attacks are also environmental factors thatcan contribute to political instability. The differentia-tion between natural and anthropogenic environmen-tal catastrophes, however, becomes increasingly diffi-cult because of increased human interference with eco-systems on a global scale. Thus, the numerical increasein natural catastrophes with disastrous consequencesfor people during recent years may be a first sign ofthis human influence.

(3) Resource scarcities

Natural resources—both renewable and non-re-newable—may become issues of conflict when they arescarce. These resource scarcities can be caused by adecrease in the supply of the resource, an increase inthe demand or by unequal resource distribution. Re-source scarcities can contribute directly or indirectly toviolent conflict. If violent conflicts are fought over natu-ral resources (simple-scarcity conflict), the contributionof the environment to the conflict seems obvious. Thismight explain why resource scarcities have been of pri-mary interest to research on environment-security link-ages.

Fresh water, fish, and forests are renewable naturalresources of special concern. Water shortage is gener-ally seen as the environmental problem most likely tolead to violent conflict. According to the SecretaryGeneral of the UN Conference on Human SettlementsHabitat II, Mr. Wally N’Dow, water is the critical factorthreatening world peace.6 For example, the MiddleEast is known for its violent conflicts involving waterissues. Another example of conflict over renewablenatural resources is the recent dispute between Canadaand Spain over fish. Scarcities of renewable natural

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resources are in many cases closely related to environ-mental degradation because the latter can cause suchscarcity by damaging or altering the regenerative pro-cesses involved.

Non-renewable natural resources such as oil, coal, ironore and other minerals have been known through his-tory for causing simple-scarcity wars between states.During World War II, for example, Japan sought to se-cure oil, minerals and other resources in China andSoutheast Asia, and the 1991 Gulf War was partly mo-tivated by the desire to secure oil supplies.


The threat that an environmental problem posesto security depends on the degree of the threat to wel-fare and survival, (i.e. on the framework conditions.)Thus, the capacity to act on the environmental prob-lem and its consequences, the promises of the applica-tion of force, the general conflict situation in the regionconcerned, and the institutions binding the possibleadversaries together, all influence the eventual prob-ability of violent conflict. In general, these conditionsappear to be more prone to triggering violent conflictin developing countries than in industrialized states.Therefore, violent conflicts over environmental issueshave been more notorious in the South than in theNorth. Most wars and violent conflicts identified asenvironmentally induced have been internal in natureand have taken place in ecologically sensitive regionsof the developing world.

Regions of special interest to recent research on en-vironment-security linkages have, not suprisingly, beenregions with acute conflict where the environmentalfactor seems rather obvious, such as the Middle Eastand the Horn of Africa. Additionally, some regions arepopular illustrations of the consequences of particularenvironmental problems. Bangladesh, for instance, isoften mentioned in conjunction with sea level rise; Haitiand the Philippines for their problems of deforestation;the Sahel for its desertification; and again the MiddleEast in connection with water scarcity.

However, it has been left largely to the discretionand preferences of the researchers involved, which en-vironmental problems and problem regions are pro-nounced in research. There exists neither a compara-tive assessment of the security threats posed by differ-ent kinds of environmental problems, nor research re-sults available that would allow assessment of the se-verity of environmental threats to security on a regionalbasis.



There are certainly countless policy options for re-sponding to environmental challenges at every level,be it local, national, regional or international. In the

following discussion, the focus will be on action at theinternational level and on bilateral as well as multilat-eral policies. Several reasons can be given for this em-phasis. First, insofar as environmental problems arerelevant to security policy, they either have or acquirean international dimension, since it is, in the end,mainly peace among different states and societies thatis of concern. Even violent conflicts that appear to bepurely domestic are mostly of international concern.Second, the greatest risk associated with environmen-tal problems has been identified in developing coun-tries and in Eastern Europe. Thus, from the perspec-tive of NATO and NATO member states, it should bethe international level that is the focus of responses toenvironmental risks to security. Finally, most modernenvironmental challenges are international themselvesand thus require an international or regional approach(i.e., climate change, stratospheric ozone depletion, butalso shared water resources).

Furthermore, regarding more general policy strat-egies for coping with environmental change, a distinc-tion has to be made between adaptation and mitiga-tion and prevention. Policies can aim at adapting soci-ety to changing environmental conditions and resourcescarcities without tackling the causes of the environ-mental change in question, or they can be directed atmitigating such causes or preventing the emergence ofenvironmental problems and resource scarcities. Thetwo approaches are not mutually exclusive.

. . .The following discussion will, first, deal withthe international institutions concerned. This will in-clude international environmental institutions in a nar-row sense as well as other international institutions thatare important for effectively dealing with environmen-tal problems. Second, as to the substance of interna-tional environmental policies, the importance of capac-ity building as a fundamental approach to environmen-tal policy will be highlighted. In general, the Pilot Studywill put special emphasis on building and strengthen-ing international institutions of regional or global scope.

(1) International institutions in the field of the environment.

International institutions in the field of the envi-ronment comprise international organizations andother international cooperative arrangements com-monly referred to as “international regimes”. Interna-tional regimes are usually based on international con-ventions and other instruments of international law.The instruments of international law provide for gen-eral and specific proscriptions and prescriptions as wellas decisionmaking procedures like voting rules of themembers in specific issue areas of international rela-tions.

More than 100 of these arrangements have beencreated based on international agreements which existin the field of the environment at the regional or inter-national levels. Most of the known important interna-

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tional environmental issue areas are thus governed byinternational environmental regimes, including a num-ber of arrangements for the common management ofnatural resources, most notably water. The issue areaof climate change, for example, is governed by theUnited Nations Framework Convention on ClimateChange opened for signature at UNCED in 1992; thedepletion of the ozone layer is dealt with in the frame-work of the Vienna Convention for the Protection ofthe Ozone Layer (1985) and the Montreal Protocol(1987). Other global environmental agreements includethe Convention on Biological Diversity (1992) and theConvention to Combat Desertification (1994). Protec-tion of the oceans and their resources is regulated by awhole range of regional and global agreements. Sev-eral regional problems like long-range transboundaryair pollution in Europe and North America, the protec-tion of the Rhine and Danube rivers and the manage-ment of other freshwater resources are also regulatedby regional or global agreements.

While the examples mentioned are only represen-tative of the complete list of international environmen-tal regimes, the United Nations EnvironmentProgramme (UNEP) is the only global internationalorganization exclusively in charge of environmentalissues. UNEP’s role, however, is mainly confined tofacilitating and supporting environmental protectionby the catalyzing and coordinating functions assignedto it by the community of states.

Environmental matters have, however, become in-creasingly prominent in the activities of other interna-tional organizations. Environmental matters are nowregularly considered in programs of the United NationsDevelopment Programme (UNDP), the Food and Ag-riculture Organization (FAO), most other organizationsand bodies of the United Nations, as well as of theWorld Bank and many other financing institutions in-cluding the regional development banks. The estab-lishment of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) bythe World Bank, UNDP and UNEP in November 1990as well as its restructuring in 1994 provided an addi-tional instrument for channeling resources from devel-oped to developing countries in order to address glo-bal environmental issues. None of these organizationsand bodies, however, is actively pursuing environmen-tal regulation and its implementation.

Furthermore, the rules and activities of many in-ternational organizations and regimes that appear tobe outside the realm of environmental policy do influ-ence the environment directly or indirectly. The best-known examples are the General Agreement on Tariffsand Trade (GATT) and the World Trade Organization(WTO).

Since the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992,there has been some institutional reform to enhancethe role and increase the weight of environmental con-siderations in international policy-making. The UN

Secretariat in New York was restructured to give theenvironment and sustainable development a moreprominent role. In addition, the Commission on Sus-tainable Development (CSD) was established. It washoped that the CSD would help solve the problem ofcoordinating different international policies and insti-tutions relevant to the environment. Coordinating in-ternational policies has become more important withthe increase in the number of international environmen-tal regimes and the realization that many seeminglyunrelated activities of other international institutionsare indeed of great relevance to environmental mat-ters. As a consequence, this problem is characterizedby duplicated work, overlapping responsibilities, andincompatibilities and tensions among different envi-ronmental institutions. This is demonstrated by thegreat need for cooperation between environmental re-gimes and between environmental institutions and in-stitutions mainly responsible for other policy fields.Despite the value of the CSD as a global forum for dis-cussion, the many challenging issues on its agenda havenot allowed it to make decisive progress in solving theproblem of coordinating different environmentally rel-evant activities to the degree hoped for initially.

Much remains to be done regarding the two mainproblems of international environmental regulationand implementation. These problems are closely re-lated to the lack of any central authority in the interna-tional system and which the CSD was meant to address.One constraint on the effectiveness of international en-vironmental policy is related to the nature of regimes.Given the sovereignty of participating countries, theyhave to consent to an international agreement in orderfor the obligations included to become binding. Tak-ing into consideration countries’ differing degrees ofknowledge and their varying interests and concern,reaching agreement in the negotiations frequently takesa long time and the resulting obligations are often “toolittle, too late”. Second, implementation problemsplague international efforts to protect the environment.As in the field of security policy, monitoring compli-ance with international agreements is a crucial issue inenvironmental politics. In the absence of adequatemonitoring, states fear that some of the parties to theagreement may not comply and thus may save the costsassociated with compliance. Effectively responding toknown cases of non-compliance serves to promote thattrust. However, the international system now offerslittle room for enforcing obligations.

In conclusion, the effectiveness of international en-vironmental institutions is still very limited. The insti-tutional reforms following the Earth Summit have notchanged this situation fundamentally. More workneeds to be done to evaluate alternative policy optionsin order to assist decisionmakers in setting priorities.

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(2) Capacity building.

It is the capacities available that are of fundamen-tal importance to the ability of societies and policies torespond to environmental challenges. Indeed, whetherenvironmental policies are formulated and imple-mented effectively depends not only on the politicalwill of decisionmakers but also on the availability ofsufficient capacities. Therefore, capacity building canbe seen as a major part of a strategy to combat environ-mental threats to security. This applies especially todeveloping countries. Emphasis needs to be placed oncapacity building to enable the societies of concern tofollow sustainable development paths in order to pre-vent environmental problems from becoming relevantto security policy at all.

Capacity building measures supporting sustain-able development are addressed in Agenda 21. Theycan comprise a variety of different activities covering awhole set of areas, e.g. economic and technologicaldevelopment, institution building and institutional re-form, diffusion of knowledge and know-how, healthcare, and the transfer of financial and technological re-sources. More specifically, training activities, financialassistance, transfer of suitable and adaptable technol-ogy, education programs, the strengthening of the roleof important societal groups (e.g. children, women,indigenous people, NGOs), and similar measures areassociated with the more general aim of capacity build-ing. Thus, capacity building is a major aim of currentefforts to confront global environmental change, espe-cially at the national and local levels. Research muststill provide some direction as to the building of whichkind of capacities should be supported under specificcircumstances to give optimal support to sustainabledevelopment.



To assist NATO in defining its own policy priori-ties with respect to the environment and security, it isessential to identify those environmental problems thatmerit special attention and are in need of urgent actionbecause of their particularly high potential for trigger-ing violent conflict. Furthermore, the different policyoptions, especially those concerning possible reformand restructuring of international institutions, shouldbe evaluated as to whether and to what extent they areappropriate for addressing the most pressing environ-mental challenges in the context of environment andsecurity.

This report identifies several gaps in existingknowledge that should be addressed in the Pilot Studyon Environment and Security in an International Con-text. The questions to be addressed can be put intotwo distinct clusters. Cluster 1 would be science-ori-ented and would address methodological and concep-

tual problems as well as issues of data collection andavailability, and the construction of appropriate indi-cators. Cluster 2 would build on the results of Cluster1 by addressing policy-oriented questions of compara-tive threat assessments of different environmental is-sues as well as evaluating possible policy responses,particularly regarding international institutions. . . .

Cluster 1: Indicators and Data Collection

Cluster 1 on Indicators and Data Collection will dealin particular with the following topics:

Update existing lists of violent conflicts in which conflictsover natural resources and the environment played a majorrole.

Several lists of violent conflicts that were at leastpartly environmentally induced have been produced.None of them, however, appears to have been encom-passing nor up to date. Thus, this step in the workprogram consists of compiling existing lists of environ-mentally induced conflicts and completing them withthe latest research results on such conflicts.

Development of criteria for assessing the degree to which aconflict has been caused by environmental degradation andnatural resource scarcities.

This task requires the identification of the majorfactors contributing to the emergence of violent con-flict. Furthermore, a methodology for weighing the im-portance of the different causes of violent conflict needsto be developed.

Elaboration of criteria for assessing the security risks asso-ciated with environmental problems.

This analysis might include identifying the relevantvariables and indicators that describe and explain thelinkage between the environment and security. Thepossible causal chains leading from environmentalproblems to violent conflict need to be documented sys-tematically and investigated in detail. Also, the struc-ture of relevant framework conditions (e.g. economic,political, cultural) that either reinforce or mitigate theoutbreak of violence should be identified.

Development of different categories of environmental prob-lems according to the extent to which they are relevant tosecurity.

Building on the previous step, this task may bestbe dealt with by developing taxonomies of (a) envi-ronmental stress, environmental risks to security andenvironmental threats to security; (b) attributes of en-vironmental conflicts themselves; and (c) contextualfactors more or less likely to help transform environ-mental problems into security threats.

Collection of data on a representative sample of environmen-tal threats to security at different levels of conflict escala-tion.

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This effort should start by exploring relevant ex-isting data sources and determining gaps in data andshould include cases that have not led to violent con-flict. This will include collecting data systematicallyon the environmental problem in question, contextualfactors, and attributes of the political conflict involved.The specific regions to be investigated will be definedin the course of the work. This data collection mightbest be done in case studies that are closely coordinatedand use a common framework for analysis in order tofacilitate comparison across cases. This common frame-work for analysis is yet to be elaborated.

Definition of indicators and reasonable thresholds of sever-ity of environmental problems that indicate heightened dan-ger of their causing or contributing to violent conflict.

The analysis should try to assess whether thresh-olds can be found that exist irrespective of frameworkconditions. In addition, constellations of contextual fac-tors that reinforce or mitigate environmental threats tosecurity should be identified and classified. This stepwill require integrating environmental and contextualfactors. This might make it possible to determine cer-tain context-specific thresholds of severity that indicateheightened danger of the outbreak of violence.

Definition of early warning indicators and ways of integrat-ing relevant environmental factors into existing early warn-ing systems.

Systems of indicators that are used to produce atimely warning in cases of a growing conflict threaten-ing security exist, but need to include sophisticated en-vironmental indicators. Thus, this task starts fromdeveloping such environmental indicators and integrat-ing them into existing early warning systems.

Cluster 2: Evaluation of Environmental Threats toSecurity and Policy Responses

Cluster 2 on Evaluation of Environmental Threats toSecurity and Policy Responses will focus in particularon the following items:

Comparative threat assessment of major global and regionalenvironmental problems in order to set priorities with re-gard to their security relevance.

The analysis has to draw on the work done in Clus-ter 1 and expand it. Relevant environmental problemsmight include climate change, depletion of the ozonelayer, loss of biodiversity, desertification, deforestation,lack of water availability, and “classical” air pollution(SO2, NOx). It will have to take into account the cur-rent knowledge about the effects of the environmentalproblems under investigation as well as the structureand development of framework conditions in relevantregions.

Integrated threat assessment for the NATO region as wellas for other regions particularly relevant to NATO.

Also drawing on the work done in Cluster 1, it isnecessary to identify those regions particularly liableto become the location of violent conflict triggered byenvironmental problems. This step will be based onthe comparative assessment of environmental issueswhich will allow one to identify those regions that willbe most affected by the most severe environmentalthreats to security. In contrast to the previous step, thisanalysis will not focus on single environmental prob-lems but will try to take into account the total amountof environmental stress to specific regions.

Developing a decision support system.Based on the results of the work done in the con-

text of Cluster 1, this task will include, inter alia, inte-grating early warning systems. Also, existing decisionsupport systems that can provide meaningful supportto policy-makers in the face of environmental threatsto security may be evaluated and ways of integratingenvironmental considerations into these systems de-fined.

Evaluation of selected policy responses to environmentalthreats to security.

This assessment will focus on international orga-nizations and international conventions (“regimes”).It might distinguish between different kinds of envi-ronmental degradation and resource scarcities. Theevaluation should take into account the criteria for sus-tainable development as included, inter alia, in Agenda21, and should encompass at least four steps: (1) tak-ing stock of the existing system of institutions, (2) dis-cussion and assessment of their effectiveness, (3) dis-cussion and assessment of possible alternatives, and(4) judging all options discussed from the perspectiveof environment and security.

Elaboration of recommendations for improving and redesign-ing international institutions so as to effectively addressenvironmental threats to security by supporting andstrengthening sustainable development.

Recommendations for improving and redesigninginternational institutions for the environment will bebased on the above evaluation and will generally flowfrom the work done in previous parts of the workprogramme.


1 The Committee on the Challenges of Modern Society(CCMS). Acknowledgements: Laurie MacNamara andBrian Smith, Evidence Based Research, Inc., Vienna, Vir-ginia Bertram Spector, Centre for Negotiation Analy-sis, Potomac, Maryland.2 http://echs.ida.org/s05/biblio.html3 For the purposes of this report, we will thus distin-guish “environmental degradation” (including “natu-ral disasters”) from issues related to the scarcity anddistribution of “natural resources.” Such scarcities may,

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however, themselves be caused at least partially byenvironmental degradation. To refer to the aspectsmentioned in toto we will use the term “environmentalproblem”.4 In the following discussion, we will avoid using theterm “environmental security” of which, by now, nocommon definition has emerged. On the contrary, avariety of quite diverse understandings have been putforward. The alternatives range from defining “envi-ronmental security” as “the protection of armed forcesfrom environmental threats” to a broader definition:basically the absence of severe environmental problemsor, as the realization of sustainable development. Un-der these circumstances, instead of seeking to find adefinition of environmental security that would suiteveryone, it appears more fruitful to approach the is-sue of environment and security by differentiating ana-lytically certain relationships between the two realmsof environment and security in order to avoid confu-sion and to reach clarity on the subject to be investi-gated.5 The environmental effects of the regular training ac-tivities of military forces in general and the pollutionof military bases in particular have received increasingattention during recent years. This aspect of the rela-tionship between the environment and security, how-ever, is dealt with in the context of various defense-related CCMS Pilot Studies, e.g. the NATO/CCMS Pi-lot Studies on Environmental Management Systems,on Cross-border Environmental Problems Emanatingfrom Defence-Related Installations and Activities, onEnvironmental Aspects of Reusing Former MilitaryLands, on Protection of Civil Populations from ToxicMaterials Spills during Movements of Military Goods.6 Declaration by the Secretary General of the UN Con-ference on Human Settlements Habitat II, Mr. WallyN’Dow, in New York on March 17, 1996.


Bächler, G., V. Böge, et al., 1993: Umweltzerstörung:Krieg oder Kooperation? Ökologische Konflikte iminternationalen System und Möglichkeiten derfriedlichen Bearbeitung. Münster: agenda Verlag.

Bächler, G. H. (Ed.), 1994: Umweltflüchtlinge, DasKonfliktpotential von morgen? Münster: agendaVerlag.

Brock, L., 1994: Ökologische Sicherheit. ZurProblematik einer naheliegenden Verknüpfung. In:Hein, W. (Ed.): Umbruch in der Weltgesellschaft. Aufdem Wege zu einer “Neuen Weltordnung”? Hamburg:Deutsches Übersee-Institut, pp. 443-458.

Daase, C., 1992: Ökologische Sicherheit: Konzept oderLeerformel? In: Meyer, B. and C. Wellmann (Eds.):Umweltzerstörung: Kriegsfolge oder Kriegsursache.

Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, pp. 21-52.

Deudney, D., 1992: The Mirage of Eco-War: The WeakRelationship among Global Environmental Change,National Security and Interstate Violence. In: I. H.Rowlands and M. Greene (Eds.): Global Environmen-tal Change and International Relations. Houndsmill:Macmillan, pp. 169-191.

German Advisory Council on Global Change, 1996:World in Transition: Ways Towards Global Environ-mental Solutions, Annual Report. Heidelberg, Berlin,New York: Springer.

Haas, P.M., R.O. Keohane and M.A. Levy (Eds.), 1993:Institutions for the Earth - Sources of Effective Inter-national Environmental Protection. Cambridge, Mass.:Cambridge University Press

Hauge, W. and T. Ellingsen, 1996: EnvironmentalChange and Civil War: A Multivariate Approach. Pa-per for the NATO Advanced Research Workshop onConflict and the Environment. Oslo: International PeaceResearch Institute.

Homer-Dixon, T. F., 1994: Environmental Scarcities andViolent Conflict: Evidence from Cases. In: InternationalSecurity 19 (1), pp. 5-40.

Homer-Dixon, T. F., 1995: On the Threshold: Environ-mental Changes as Causes of Acute Conflict. In: S. M.Lynn-Jones and S. E. Miller (Eds.): Global Dangers,Changing Dimensions of International Securtiy. Cam-bridge, London: The MIT Press, pp. 43-83.

Keohane, R.O. and M.A. Levy (Eds.), 1996: Institutionsfor Environmental Aid - Promises and Pitfalls. Cam-bridge, Mass.: Cambridge University Press.

Landeszentrale für politische Bildung Baden-Württemberg (Ed.), 1994: Dokumentation - Die Weltzwischen Öko-Konflikten und ökologischer Sicherheit,2. Forum Haus auf der Alb. Bad Urach, Stuttgart.

Libiszewski, S and V. Böge, 1992: Environment andConflicts Project (ENCOP) Occasional Paper No.1,What is an Environmental Conflict? Proposal for anAnalytical Framework to Grasp ‘Environmental Con-flict’. Berne, Zurich: Swiss Peace Foundation Berne andCenter for Security Studies and Conflict Research ofthe ETH Zurich.

Lonergan, S., 1996: Global Environmental Change andHuman Security. Scoping Report, International HumanDimensions of Global Change Programme, ScientificCommittee, University of Victoria.

Mathews, J. T. 1989: Redefining Security. In: ForeignAffairs 68(2), pp. 162-177.

Myers, N. 1989: Environment and Security. In: ForeignPolicy (74), pp. 23-41.

Ornäs, A. H., and S. Lodgaard (Eds.), 1992: The Envi-ronment and International Security. Upsala: Interna-

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tional Peace Research Institute (PRIO) and the ResearchProgramme on Environment and International Secu-rity, Department of Human Geography, Uppsala Uni-versity.

Renner, M. 1989: National Security: The Economic andEnvironmental Dimensions. In: Worldwatch Paper No.89, Washington D.C.: Worldwatch Institute.

Simmons, P.J. (Ed.) 1995: Environmental Change andSecurity Project Report, Issue 1. Washington: WoodrowWilson Center.

Simmons, P.J. (Ed.) 1996: Environmental Change andSecurity Project Report, Issue 2. Washington: WoodrowWilson Center.

Spillmann, K.R. and G. Bächler, 1995: Environment andConflict Project (ENCOP) Occasional Paper No. 14,September, Environmental Crisis: Regional Conflictsand Ways of Cooperation. Berne, Zurich: Swiss PeaceFoundation Berne and Center for Security Studies andConflict Research of the ETH Zurich.

Sprinz, D., 1995: Regulating the International Environ-ment: A Conceptual Model of Environmental Securityand Instrument Choice. Potsdam: Potsdam Institute forClimate Impact Research.

Suhrke, A., 1993: Pressure Points: Environmental Deg-radation, Migration and Conflict. In: Occasional PaperNumber 3, March 1993, Toronto: University of Torontoand the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, pp.3-43.

Ullmann, R. H., 1983: Redefining Security. In: Interna-tional Security 8(1), pp. 129-153.

Westing, A. H. (Ed.), 1986: Global resources and inter-national conflict. Oxford, New York: Oxford Univer-sity Press.

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Infectious Diseaseas a Global Security Threat

Task Force: Rohit Burman (Team Leader), Kelly Kirschner and Elissa McCarter


This report examines the resurgence of infectious diseases as a major threat to national and internationalsecurity. Infectious diseases are the world’s leading cause of death, killing at least 17 million people each year,most of whom are children, and the numbers only continue to increase. While developing countries are hithardest, migration, the mass movement of millions of refugees, and increasing international air travel, trade,and tourism ensure that no country is safe from the spread of disease. More people in more countries are at riskof infectious diseases today than at any other time in human history. Diseases are threatening the young, work-ing populations of many developing countries—which jeopardizes their social and economic stability and couldhave serious reverberations around the world. The United States is no exception, for it is seeing startling in-creases in tuberculosis nationwide and a continuing AIDS epidemic. Infectious disease is a global problem. Itrequires global action.

Despite the worldwide resurgence of infectious disease, there is still a lack of political will and resources toprevent disease outbreaks from occurring. This report attempts to underline how epidemics occur, what can bedone to best prevent them, and who should take action. For illustrative purposes, the report uses three originalcase studies of the current AIDS epidemic in India, the tuberculosis crisis in South Africa, and the 1991 choleraepidemic in Peru. It is divided into several parts: 1) the variables which lead to a disease epidemic; 2) thevariables which lead to a security threat; 3) the links between disease and security; 4) three specific situationswhere disease has threatened or is threatening a large population; and 5) policy recommendations to reduce thethreat of infectious disease to national and international security.

Past experience shows that treatment-driven policies to combat disease are ineffective and more costly inthe long run. Infectious disease must be stopped before it develops, meaning that prevention-driven policies

Task Force Reports on Environmental Change and SecurityDr. Richard A. Matthew

School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University

During the past three years the Environmental Change and Security Project has brought together repre-sentatives of the academic, policy, NGO and international communities to learn about and discuss a range ofpressing issues of national and global importance.

In line with the general objectives of this Project, the following Task Force Reports provide overviews ofthree important issue areas: infectious disease, water scarity in shared river basins, and military and intelli-gence activities. Due to space considerations, what follows are brief summaries of the original reports; thecase studies in particular have been edited aggressively. In doing this, I have tried to provide an accuratesense of the general arguments advanced; I take responsibility for any omissions or distortions of these.

These Reports reflect an important commitment at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Serviceand, in fact, throughout the academic world to encourage research and education in the broad, interdiciplinaryarea of environmental policy. They have been prepared by individuals who, for the most part, have severalyears of relevant work experience and have returned to the academic world to spend two years in Georgetown’sMaster of Science in Foreign Service Program acquiring specific skills and knowledge that they will take backto the policy, NGO and private sectors in the United States and abroad. Research for these reports has in-volved extensive interviews and fieldwork, as well as published materials and internet sources.

Readers may recognize in these reports the influence of the pioneering work directed by Thomas Homer-Dixon at the University of Toronto over the past several years. Although these groups of researchers are notassociated with any of Homer-Dixon’s projects, they owe a large debt to the research he has directed. Inparticular, the analytical models developed in these reports reflect both relationships identified in the researchconducted by each Task Force and those identified by Homer-Dixon and his co-authors.

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instead of “magic bullets” are the key to solving thedisease problem. A prevention-driven policy includesaction at international, national, and community lev-els to establish a foundation of community-based pub-lic health. Our findings show that the major contribu-tors to disease epidemics are malnutrition, poor sani-tation, poor hygiene, and lack of education; thereforeany attempt to reduce the threat of infectious diseasesmust focus on improving living conditions and basicpublic health. We propose a disease prevention policyin which the central tenets are: education and aware-ness campaigns from the primary level onwards; em-powering women and using indigenous skills toimprove living conditions—this includes providingmicrocredit and initiating pilot projects in rural andurban communities alike; and utilizing private corpo-rations, NGOs, national governments, and the inter-national community for collaborative support andfunding. Because neglect has jeopardized much of theprogress achieved in the past decades towards improv-ing human health, we must invest now in disease pre-vention to avoid even more serious consequences inthe future.


At the close of the 20th century, the world and thehealth of its citizens are under attack by the scourge ofinfectious disease. Despite the promises of modernmedicine, disease and poor governmental policy arepushing many areas of the world to the brink of crisis.Infectious diseases kill over 17 million people a year, 9million of whom are young children. Almost 50,000men, women and children die every day from thesediseases.1 The microbes which cause the plagues tran-scend people, cultures, and borders within hours andthe phenomenon is not isolated in the developingworld; rather, it is a global menace that is a threat to allcivilizations.

It is the obligation of all governments to meet andanticipate this threat by providing and protecting thesafety and well-being of their citizens. To the extentthat this obligation is not fulfilled, it is logical that dis-satisfaction among people will grow towards their re-spective governments, leading to conflict and demandsfor change. This paper addresses three cases and dem-onstrates how they are all, indeed, menacing situationsfor national and global security. These cases are: AIDSin India, tuberculosis in South Africa, and Peru’s chol-era epidemic.

With the discovery of penicillin and other majorpharmaceutical and medical innovations, public healthofficials long believed that the obliteration of viral, bac-terial, and parasitic foes and the infectious diseases theycause was a goal within their reach. For a period, therewas a general consensus that by the turn of the cen-tury we would achieve such a mastery over the major-

ity of infectious diseases that we could then devote ourentire energies to research the intricacies of human ge-netics, cancer, and heart disease. Unfortunately, thisoverly optimistic sentiment rested on two false assump-tions: that disease could be geographically isolated andthat microbes were biologically unchanging organisms,which could be eliminated with the development ofone drug.2

Today there is a much different, pessimistic out-look on the future of infectious disease. With the wide-spread introduction of AIDS in the late ‘70s and early-’80s, the public health community awoke to an incur-able disease that, in a short period of time, was endemicto every country in the world. We have recently dis-covered how correct Charles Darwin was, as we arefinding increasingly stronger, more resistant forms ofbacteria and microbes that have arisen due to the un-controlled and inappropriate use of antibiotics. Differ-ent strains of the hepatitis virus, herpes virus, tubercu-losis, and cholera represent a few of these new andevolving diseases.

Used too often to treat the wrong kind of infections,with the wrong dosage and for incorrect periods oftime, the antibiotics were sent to battle without theproper tools, giving the enemy time to evaluate its foeand regroup based upon that evaluation. Millions ofdollars and years of work that were spent on the re-search and development of past antibiotics are ignoredby mutating microbes, as they successfully find waysto continue their propagation. Pathogens’ resistanceto antibiotics improves and hence drugs grow obso-lete. In addition, previously unknown infections areappearing in humans (29 new diseases since 1973) whoare living or working amidst new or changing ecologi-cal conditions.3 These environments are exposing theindividual to novel pathogens, as well as new and nu-merous animal and insect carriers. Poor hospitals andhealth facilities in the less developed world are alsobeing used by these microbes as launching grounds intoprospective hosts. These under-funded, unsanitaryfacilities often do more to disseminate diseases thancontrol them.

Global warming brings with it a more conduciveenvironment for the outbreak of mosquitoes, rodents,other insects, and ocean algae blooms, which bring withthem different bacteria, protozoa, and viruses. At thesame time, the increased warming can lead to changesin weather patterns, bringing periods of floods anddrought which destroy crop yields, causing dramaticincreases in starvation and malnutrition in the less de-veloped world, thus weakening human resistance todisease.

Urbanization also enhances the presence of diseaseas a security threat today. In the next 20 years, nine ofthe top ten megacities will be in developing nations.4This type of growth leads to the spread of urban slumsand shantytowns. These areas usually do not have any

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running water, electricity or any semblance of a sew-age system. With immune systems that are alreadyweakened by malnutrition and the overall poor sani-tary conditions in which they live, people living in theseareas are highly susceptible to being the hosts uponwhich new diseases prey. Overcrowding within thecities permits disease to spread rapidly. Rapid com-merce, international air travel, and mass refugee move-ments all ensure that no country is safe from the spreadof disease. With disease, risk is internationalized.Countries in the developing world are, at present, be-ing hit the hardest. The economic losses from declin-ing tourism and declining demand for possibly infectedproducts disrupt fragile economies. This, along withthe degradation of these countries’ young, workingpopulations, leads to economic and institutional break-down. The risk is intensifying and in a global market-place, its disturbing effects will be felt throughout theworld.

Robert Kaplan’s Hobbesian view of the world inthe coming years is ominously taking shape in the glo-bal health arena. Items in the media, such as Kaplan’spiece, “The Coming Anarchy,” as well as calls from pop-culture, such as the recent movie, “Outbreak,” and thebest-selling novel by Richard Preston, The Hot Zone, allhave attempted to frighten us into action by detailingspecific infectious disease horrors of the day or throughexploring “what-if” scenarios. This paper is not acontinuation on that theme, but rather it is a sober re-flection on three cases which unfortunately reflect thistheme in today’s world.

This paper begins with a discussion of a generalmodel, detailing the variables which lead to the emer-gence of infectious diseases and how these diseasespose a threat to national and international security. Thisis followed by summaries of three case studies whichdepict three areas in the world where the interplay be-tween disease and security is obvious and frightening.The current AIDS epidemic in India, the tuberculosiscrisis in South Africa and the 1991 cholera epidemic inPeru, as an example of success, are presented as today’swarning signals. We conclude by presenting a set ofbroad policy recommendations which address the com-mon roots from which diseases spring. While theserecommendations hold particular relevance to our threecase studies, they are proposals which are applicableto all of the industrializing and industrialized world.


There are numerous factors that bring about dis-eases. Many diseases share common factors whereasothers are more unique with regard to their causes.However, there are certain variables that do contributeto the emergence of most infectious diseases. Accord-ing to the Centers for Disease Control and the WorldHealth Organization these variables can be divided into

three broad categories: social variables (such as educa-tion, lack of adequate health care facilities, culturalbarriers); demographic variables (such as urbanization,population growth, migration, human travel); and en-vironmental variables (such as sanitation, disruptionof the ecosystem, access to clean water and safe food,drug resistance, new viruses).


The lack of education about infectious diseases hasbeen a primary factor that has led to the reemergenceand explosion of infectious diseases around the world,especially in developing nations. A large percentage ofthe population in the world remains unaware and un-educated about the threat of infectious disease andmethods of prevention. Low-income families do nothave the resources to educate and protect their chil-dren. Moreover, schools often do not have any educa-tion seminars or programs on infectious diseases. Theresult is that people remain unaware of infectious dis-eases or in cases where they do hear about them, theinformation available is not accurate and no preven-tion methods are highlighted. Secondly, the lack of edu-cation coupled with cultural barriers often leads to theemergence of a disease. For example, in India, culturalbarriers with regard to talking openly about sex havecontributed to the AIDS epidemic. This is highlightedin the case study on AIDS in India.

Additionally, the lack of adequate health care fa-cilities has proved to be a major obstacle in containingthe explosion of infectious diseases in much of theworld. Hospitals and health care centers in many de-veloping countries do not have the facilities necessaryto perform tests and treat infected patients. In manyareas the number of clinics and hospitals is not enoughto support the needs of the infected population. Fur-thermore, doctors and nurses are not trained orequipped to deal with many of the diseases. Until thenecessary training and infrastructure are developed,infectious diseases are likely to perpetuate high mor-tality rates around the world. Currently, infectious dis-eases remain the leading cause of death worldwide. Ofabout 52 million deaths from all causes in 1995, morethan 17 million were due to infectious diseases.5


Population growth has played a major role in thespread of infectious diseases. Population expansionraises the statistical probability that a pathogen will betransmitted, whether from person to person or fromvector (insect or rodent) to person.6 Population den-sity is rising worldwide. The population density ex-ceeds 2,000 people per square mile in seven countries,and 43 countries have density greater than 500 peopleper square mile.7 If housing, public health provisions,

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and sewage and water systems are adequate then a highpopulation density may not doom a nation to epidem-ics. However, most of the areas where density is in-creasing today are not capable of providing suchinfrastructural support, and therefore have providedthe perfect ground for the spread of infectious diseases.

Rural to urban migrations have also contributedto the rapid spread of infectious diseases. A large num-ber of people from villages migrate to urban centers insearch of better jobs. These centers of urbanization havebecome jammed together and typically lack sewagesystems, housing, safe drinking water, medical facili-ties, and schools to support the burgeoning popula-tion. Close physical proximity leads to an astronomi-cal increase in the transmission of infectious diseasesthat are airborne, waterborne, sexually transmitted, andtransmitted by contact. Moreover, urbanization andglobalization propel radical changes in human behav-ior as well as in the ecological relationship betweenmicrobes and humans. Often in large cities, sex indus-tries rise and multiple-partner sex becomes common.Access to antimicrobials via the black market is com-mon in urban areas, which leads to overuse of preciousdrugs and the emergence of resistant bacteria and para-sites. Furthermore, intravenous drug users’ sharing ofsyringes also provides a mechanism for the transmis-sion of microbes.8 Thus, urban centers have becomecenters for dissemination of disease rather than con-trol.

Human travel has also contributed to the spread

of infectious diseases to the remotest parts of the world.With travel in the jet age, a virus that originates inBurkina Faso can reach Australia within a day. Passen-gers flying from Japan to Uganda leave the countrywith the world’s highest life expectancy—almost 79years—and land in one with the world’s lowest—barely42 years. A flight between France and Ivory Coast takesonly a few hours, but it spans almost 26 years of lifeexpectancy.9


Environmental variables such as poor sanitation,disruption of the ecosystem and limited access to cleanwater and safe food have played a major role in theemergence of infectious diseases. Many infectious dis-eases such as malaria, cholera, and tuberculosis emergeor are exacerbated due to poor sanitation facilities. Thelack of sanitation provides a breeding ground for germs.In many developing regions people do not have accessto safe food and clean water, and this has led to a sig-nificant increase in infectious diseases.

Drug-resistant strains of microbes are having adeadly impact on the fight against infectious diseases,especially tuberculosis, malaria, cholera, diarrhea andpneumonia—major diseases that killed more than 10million people in 1995.10 Some bacteria are resistant toas many as 10 different drugs. Thus, diseases previ-ously under control are re-emerging at an alarming rate.Moreover, new viruses have also contributed to the

Table 1 Major Diseases that have Emerged in the last two Decades(Source: World Health Organization, “Infectious Diseases Kill Over 17 Million People a Year,” http://www.who.ch/whr/1996/press1.htm)

New Diseases

Some of the causative agents, and diseases associated with them, include in chronological order of theiridentification:

1973 Rotavirus, a major cause of infantile diarrhoea worldwide1976 Cryptosporidium parvum, a parasite which causes acute and chronic diarrhoea1977 Legionella pneumophila, the bacterium which causes potentially fatal Legionnaires’ disease1977 Ebola virus, which causes haemorrhagic fever—fatal in up to 80% of cases1977 Hantaan virus, which causes potentially fatal haemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome1977 Campylobacter jejuni, a bacterium which causes diarrhoea1980 Human T-lymphotropic virus I (HTLV-1), which causes lymphona-leukaemia1982 Escherichia coli 0157:H7 strain of bacteria, which causes bloody diarrhoea1982 HTLV-2 virus, which causes hairy cell leukaemia1983 Helicobacter pylori, the bacterium associated with peptic ulcer disease and stomach cancer1983 Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes AIDS1988 Human herpesvirus 6, which causes fever and rash1989 Hepatitis C virus, which causes liver cancer as well as liver disease1991 Guanarito virus, which causes Venezuelan haemorrhagic fever1992 Vibrio cholerae 0139, which causes epidemic cholera1994 Sabia virus, which causes Brazilian haemorrhagic fever1995 Human herpesvirus 8, associated with Kaposi’s sarcoma in AIDS patients

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spread of infectious diseases. Table 1 lists some of thenew diseases that have emerged in the past two de-cades.11

Finally, resource depletion and degradation haveled to the spread of infectious disease. Our societalneeds are constantly increasing, especially with thegrowth in population, but we are faced with limitedresources. This, has resulted in scarcity of food, lim-ited access to clean water, and a surge in pollution lev-els. Malnutrition in particular greatly weakens the im-mune system, which leaves people vulnerable to dis-ease and infection. All of these factors have interactedto facilitate the emergence of disease.



The United States Central Intelligence Agency andacademics such as Thomas F. Homer-Dixon, Ted Gurr,and Nadir A.L. Mohammed have identified several keyfactors that affect the stability of the social and economicsystem in a country. These are: population pressures;poverty; ethnic tensions and social strife; and economicand political crises. In the case of infectious diseases,resource depletion and degradation, mortality, andhealth care costs also affect the stability of social andinstitutional structures.


According to Homer-Dixon, population pressuresare a key factor which affect the stability of social andeconomic systems. The population in developing re-gions of the world has been increasing at an alarmingrate. Currently, approximately 75% of the world’spopulation lives in these regions.12 This has resultedin a fierce competition for resources. Population pres-sures on a nation’s resource base results in people mi-grating to areas where resources are still not fully ex-ploited. In many cases, this leads to rivalries betweengroups and regions as people indigenous to a regionfind migrants encroaching on their land and exploit-ing their resource base. The cumulative effect of thesepressures and rivalries is that the stability of social andeconomic systems is challenged.


A second factor that affects the stability of the so-cial and institutional structure is ethnic tensions andsocial strife, according to Ted Gurr.13 We live in a worldthat is culturally and ethnically diverse. Each state,and often regions within a state, has its own distinc-tive culture and language. However, not all groupsare tolerant of diversity and this has often led to ethnictensions and social strife within a state or betweenstates. With the current increase in population and mi-

gration there is likely to be an increase in ethnic ten-sions as the interests of different groups come into con-flict due to greater interaction and competition for lim-ited resources. Therefore, increased ethnic tensionscould lead to a breakdown of social and institutionalstructures.


Poverty is another important factor that can leadto social and institutional collapse in a country.14 Themajority of the population of the developing world livesin poverty. These people do not have access to propershelter, safe food and water, and health care facilities.Resentment and frustration permeate societies in whichthe majority of individuals are deprived of basic hu-man needs. This resentment and frustration is oftenexpressed through violent acts, especially if the indi-viduals have access to arms. Many countries in SouthAsia, parts of Africa, and Latin America have seen asurge in violence in recent years, an increase in thenumber of strikes, and a growing resentment againstinstitutions which are apathetic to the condition of themajority of the population.


John Cuddington, an economist at GeorgetownUniversity, has shown that morbidity and mortalityaffect the social and economic growth of a country. Therise in morbidity has two immediate effects: it reduceslabor productivity and increases spending on healthcare.15 The worst case scenario for the social and eco-nomic structure of a country would be a dramatic dropin the life expectancy of its people. Not only does thisreduce the working age population dramatically, it alsoputs a strain on the economy. As more money is spenton health care due to illnesses, the resources of indi-viduals and society at large are drained. This affectsthe economic growth of a country and threatens thestability of its economic institutions, as it may need toborrow from other countries and international institu-tions to provide for the health care needs of citizens.


Nadir A.L. Mohammed and others have arguedthat economic and political crises are major factors thataffect the stability of social and economic structures.16

When a country is faced with an economic crisis suchas hyper-inflation, currency devaluation, and deficit ordebt, the economic security of its citizens is challenged.Moreover, in situations of political crisis such as revoltsagainst the government, government shutdown or cor-ruption in the government, the safety net that a gov-ernment provides for its citizens may no longer hold.Under these circumstances a country could be facedwith collapse of its social and economic system.

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Finally, resource depletion and degradation notonly lead to the spread of infectious diseases, but alsopose a security threat to the stability of the social andeconomic systems. This is supported by Robert Kaplanand Homer-Dixon. Kaplan asserts that environmentaldegradation will be the national security issue of the21st century.17 With the expanding needs of our soci-ety, the resources that we have are being drained. Re-source depletion and degradation are severe problemsin many countries of the developing as well as devel-oped world, largely because of the surge in populationgrowth. If sustainable practices are not undertaken andpopulation growth remains unchecked, it may not belong before our resource base is exhausted. Already,urban centers across the developing world are facedwith scarcity of food, lack of clean water, and recordpollution levels. These problems are gradually mov-ing into the rural areas. Thus, the intense competitionfor limited resources and degradation and depletionof environmental resources in order to maximize indi-vidual benefits present a serious challenge to the sta-bility of our social and economic systems.


Infectious diseases may be an increasingly signifi-cant variable that puts pressure on the security vari-ables and thus threatens the stability of social and eco-nomic structures. Figure 1.1 provides a model of theserelationships. First, an increase in population coupled

with an increase in infectious diseases will result in thespread of these diseases to all corners of the world.Population expansion raises the statistical probabilitythat pathogens will be transmitted.18 Hence, as popu-lation increases more people are likely to be exposedto microbes. Moreover, with population expansioncomes migration, and as people who are infected travelto different regions, they are likely to transmit diseasesto others. Every day one million people cross an inter-national border. In 1994 at least 110 million people im-migrated, another 30 million moved from rural to ur-ban areas within their own country, and 23 million weredisplaced by war or social unrest.19 Most people moveto urban metropolises. The United Nations estimatesthat urban populations will continue to soar and thatfive billion people, or 61 percent of humanity, will beliving in cities by 2025.20 These new centers of urban-ization typically lack sewage systems, housing, safedrinking water, medical facilities, and schools to sup-port the ever increasing population. Such conditionswill only increase the transmission of infectious dis-eases.

Infectious diseases often strike the poor hardest,since they have limited access to health care, safe wa-ter, and food. As infectious diseases spread more amongthe poorer people in the world, the productivity of alarge segment of the population is likely to drop. Theseindividuals may already feel deprived and harbor re-sentment for the status quo. Poverty coupled with dis-ease increases the marginalization of these individu-als, which in turn could increase their feeling of resent-ment against society. Moreover, a growing number of


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people means a growing need for treatment and healthcare. Thus, the social and economic structures in re-gions where a large percentage of the population ispoor, uneducated, and suffering with disease are likelyto be under severe strain.

The explosion of infectious diseases diverts na-tional resources from education and infrastructure in-vestment to health care for individuals who are in-fected. Analysts at McGraw Hill estimate that over thenext six years Asian countries will spend between $38and $52 billion on health care for AIDS patients.21 TheCenters for Disease Control (CDC) states that infec-tious diseases in the United States increasingly threatenpublic health and contribute significantly to the esca-lating costs of health care.22 Many regions of the worldare in dire need of investment in education and infra-structure; therefore increased expenditure on healthcare is likely to exert pressure on the social and eco-nomic system.

Infectious diseases can also exacerbate social ten-sions in society. In the case of AIDS, individuals in-fected with HIV are often stigmatized and looked uponas evil. Many individuals believe that AIDS is a wayfor god to punish the evil. Thus, the lack of awarenessabout AIDS and other infectious diseases generatesnumerous myths and misconceptions which results inpeople afflicted with the disease being considered associal outcasts. A clear line is drawn between thosesuffering with disease and those who remainuninfected. Therefore, infectious diseases could poten-tially exacerbate social tensions and hence affect thestability of the social structure.

Finally, infectious diseases increase the mortalityrate, which in turn affects the social and economic sys-tem. Life expectancy is already expected to drop dra-matically in Africa and India over the next decade ifAIDS and TB continue to spread unchecked. By re-ducing life expectancy and increasing mortality, dis-eases present a threat to the economic growth of coun-tries, as a large percentage of the working-age popula-tion will no longer be able to work or will have suc-cumbed to the disease.

The above account illustrates the potential threatthat infectious diseases present to the social and eco-nomic system of countries and to the international sys-tem. It is evident that special attention at both the na-tional and international level is required to combat thespread of infectious diseases and the security threat itposes to our society. Within this context, the followingsummaries of three case studies illustrate how infec-tious diseases can pose a threat to national and inter-national security.23


AIDS represents a serious but underestimated and

neglected health problem in India. Around 1.6 millionpeople in India are now estimated to be infected withHIV. Current research indicates that India will havethe unfortunate distinction of being the HIV capital ofAsia, with 4 million cumulative infections by the year2000. AIDS poses a major security threat to the stabil-ity of the social and economic system in India.24

The purpose of this case study is to examine whathas led to the rapid growth of AIDS in India and thesecurity threat it presents to the stability of the country’ssocial and economic system. The effect of HIV/AIDSin the social, political, and ecological realms is eluci-dated via a formal model. Moreover, recommendationsfor policy makers and health officials are made, basedon the research done, to counteract the increasing threatthat HIV/AIDS presents to the region and the world.


India is now at the epicenter of AIDS in Asia, withthe maximum number of cases having been reportedin Bombay. The number of HIV positive and AIDS casesrecorded in Bombay in 1995 were 7,000 and 1,200 re-spectively. The estimated number of HIV positive casesin Bombay increased from 150,000 in 1994 to 200,000 in1995, and the estimated number of AIDS cases inBombay increased from 15,000 to 20,000 during thesame time period.25 According to estimates from theIndian Health Organization (IHO) around 65 percentof the 70,000 prostitutes in Bombay have tested posi-tive for the HIV virus. The IHO estimates that thereare currently 4 million cases of HIV in India and thatfigure could reach 15 to 20 million by the end of thecentury.26 It is clear that India is faced with an AIDScrisis. There are a number of factors that have led tothe rapid emergence of AIDS in India.



The main factors that have caused an explosion inthe number of HIV/AIDS cases in India fall within thebroad categories of demographic, social and environ-mental variables. These factors are: (1) Education; (2)Cultural barriers; (3) Sexual Contact; (4) Blood trans-fusions; (5) Intravenous drugs; (6) Childbirth andbreast-feeding; (7) Rural to urban migration; and (8)Lack of adequate health care facilities.



The variables that affect the stability of the socialand economic structure in India are the same as thoseoutlined in the general model. These are: (1) Popula-tion pressures; (2) Ethnic tensions and social strife; (3)Poverty; (4) High mortality, which effects the labor force

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and increases expenditure on health care; (5) Economicand political crises; and (6) Resource depletion anddegradation.


This section examines how HIV/AIDS threatensthe security of the social and economic structure in In-dia by either affecting the variables that impact the sta-bility of the social and economic system or by actingdirectly on the system. Thus, the relationships betweenthe variables that have brought about the AIDS epi-demic in India, their impact on the disease, and in turnthe effect of the disease on the stability of the nationare elucidated.

AIDS is not only a threat to India but also to theregion and the international system at large. With everincreasing globalization, diseases that originate in onecountry or region can reach the farthest corners withina matter of hours. With global travel and migrations, adisease like AIDS can be easily transmitted to individu-als in other countries. Thus, if the AIDS explosion con-tinues in India, the security of the international systemand developed countries is likely to be threatened.AIDS requires special attention at both the national andinternational level.


No single HIV/AIDS prevention strategy is likelyto be effective on its own. Instead what is needed is acombination of strategies, backed by resources to stemthe spread of AIDS. Among the key strategies to con-trol AIDS in India is education. Without substantialpolitical commitment, leadership, and resources HIV/AIDS will not only be a health disaster, but also a de-velopment disaster in India.

If governments, corporations, NGOs, and interna-tional organizations can come together and work ef-fectively there is hope that the threat that AIDS posesto India, and world society, can be substantially re-duced. While researchers look for medical solutionsand health care professionals cope with the treatmentfor those already infected, the general public and policymakers can facilitate HIV prevention through educa-tion and information. We cannot and do not need towait for scientific breakthroughs. We must act now.


The key points that emerged from this study are:AIDS is problem that has reached critical dimensionsin India; if the spread of AIDS continues uncheckedthere is likely to be a breakdown of the social and eco-nomic system in India; enhanced cooperation is essen-tial among policy makers at all levels and among gov-

ernments, NGOs, corporations, and international in-stitutions to counteract the spread of AIDS; and thatresources need to be directed towards prevention andcontrol of the spread of AIDS.


In 1993 the World Health Organization declared a“global tuberculosis emergency,” hoping to draw at-tention to the increasing severity of the TB epidemic.This warning went unheeded; three years later, WHO’s1996 report concludes that TB now affects more popu-lations in more countries than at any other time in his-tory. TB kills three million people each year, and asmany as 1.9 billion people—one third of the world’spopulation—may be infected with TB. TB is now theleading killer of women and of HIV-positive individu-als. It is the biggest single infectious cause of adultdeaths worldwide.27

Tuberculosis is an air-borne disease caused by thebacillus Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which attacks thelungs 85 percent of the time. TB bacteria destroy livinglung tissue, causing blood vessels to rupture and bloodto collect in the lung cavities. If left untreated, TB suf-ferers will die by asphyxiation—literally drowning intheir own blood.28 Once TB bacteria infect a person,most healthy immune systems can keep them in a stateof dormancy. In fact, only five to ten percent of peopleinfected actually become sick with active TB.29 Thisemphasizes the importance of nutrition, lifestyle, andother factors that contribute to a strong immune sys-tem, since a person cannot pass the disease to some-one else if he/she does not develop active TB.

Until recently, there has been a steady decrease inTB mortality rates in industrialized nations. Reliableevidence shows that this decrease had begun beforethe discovery and implementation of anti-TB chemo-therapy in 1945, suggesting that the decline of TB wasdue to improved nutrition, behavioral changes, andoverall better living conditions rather than to the im-pact of medical treatment.30 But recent statistics showthat tuberculosis is on the rise again in industrializedcountries. For example, from 1985 to 1993, the numberof cases in the United States increased 14 percent. In-creases have been reported in Denmark, Holland, Nor-way, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, and Portugal; and TB isrising rapidly in Eastern Europe and the former SovietUnion. In developing nations, TB rates are highest inparts of southeast Asia and Africa. Of the estimated1.9 billion people infected with TB today, 95 percentare in the developing world.31

In June 1996, WHO announced that South Africahad the worst known TB problem in the world, withthe highest documented infection rate of 350 cases per100,000 population. The variables which have contrib-uted to the TB crisis in South Africa are primarily popu-

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lation growth, migration, urbanization, malnutrition,poor education and hygiene, poor health care, drugresistance, and the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The two lat-ter variables deserve special attention: Multidrug-re-sistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) arises when doctors orhealth workers prescribe the wrong drugs, wrong com-bination of drugs, or if anti-TB drugs are not taken forthe complete duration of treatment. Recent outbreaksof multi-drug resistant TB have occurred in New YorkCity, London, Milan, India, Thailand, South Africa,Estonia, and Pakistan. Although exact numbers ofMDR strains of TB are unknown, WHO estimates that50 million people are already infected with MDR-TB.32

The other variable which exacerbates the TB crisis isAIDS. WHO estimates that approximately 5.6 millionpeople are co-infected with HIV and TB.33 An HIV-positive individual is 30 times more likely to developactive TB. With both population explosion and theHIV epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa, the annual num-ber of TB incident cases is expected to more than doublefrom 1990 to 2000.34

Tuberculosis puts great strains on the social andeconomic structures in South Africa. The most seriousconsequence of a TB epidemic is its financial burdenon the country. TB hits the most productive sector ofSouth Africa’s population—people between the agesof 18-45. UN Food and Agriculture Organization hasestimated that by the year 2010, Africa’s labor forcecould be reduced by 25 percent.35 A shrinking laborforce will severely limit South Africa’s ability to ser-vice its huge national debt, to maintain a stable cur-rency, and to support the rising cost of labor. In a coun-try which has a tendency toward violent outbreaks andcivil unrest for political reasons, economic hardshiponly fuels popular discontent.

Clearly, tuberculosis poses a threat to the securityof South Africa. It is also a threat to other countries—even in the industrialized world. The unprecedentedresurgence of TB in the United States during the 1980sand early 1990s illustrates the threat of TB to industri-alized nations: From 1985 to 1992, TB cases increasedas much as 30 percent in some parts of the U.S.—namelyNew York, New Jersey, and Florida. An alarming out-break of TB occurred in New York City during the late1980s which caught health workers unprepared to dealwith the crisis. As a result of neglect to public healthsystems in New York, the prevalence of HIV, and theinability of health workers to enforce completement oftreatment programs, up to one million New Yorkersmay now be infected with the TB bacillus.36 Otheroutbreaks of drug-resistant TB have occurred in Floridaand New Jersey, and increasing evidence indicates thatdrug resistance is on the rise nationwide.37

The experience with TB outbreaks in New York Cityalong with the lessons of rising TB in South Africa showthat treatment-driven control programs as opposed toprevention-driven programs are more costly and inef-

fective in the long run. Especially in light of TB-HIV/AIDS coinfection, real prevention means building upimmune systems and awareness of both TB and AIDSto prevent active TB—rather than curing TB after it hasdeveloped. An effective policy starts at the commu-nity level and targets the conditions which allow TB todevelop and spread. A community-based public healthcampaign requires a collaborative effort between theinternational community and national governments,under the direction of indigenous experts and involv-ing members of the local population, particularlywomen, who are key to ensuring proper pubic health.Addressing the global problem of TB means looking atindividual needs. Nutrition, sanitation, and properhygiene are therefore key to building healthy immunesystems and reducing the risk of TB.

In conclusion, TB is a danger to all nations, not sim-ply in the developing world where it is currently mostprevalent. With open trading policies and the inter-twining of global markets, economic instability causedby a TB epidemic in one country could have repercus-sions on the world at large. The presence of HIV in allregions of the world make nations doubly susceptibleto a tuberculosis epidemic, and the emergence of MDR-TB jeopardizes even the most advanced nations’ abil-ity to cure TB. The battle against TB will tilt in ourfavor only when we alleviate the conditions in our en-vironment which invite disease and allow it to spread.


In late January of 1991, cholera was re-introducedto Peru and Latin America for the first time in 90 years.Within months, Peru faced a spreading “medievalplague” that had accounted for more than 160,000 casesand over 1,500 deaths. Health-watch groups convergedon Peru, as the world’s health community feared thatthe disease would become endemic and spreadthroughout the entire hemisphere within one year.Many experts believed that by 1992 the number of casesin the hemisphere would reach 6 million, with a pos-sible 40,000 deaths.38

Peruvian exports of fish, fruit, and other horticul-tural products were virtually shut down. Tourism toPeru, as well as its neighboring countries in SouthAmerica, was relegated to a slow crawl. In 1991 alone,economic losses were estimated at $1 billion, equiva-lent to almost half of Peru’s 1989 export earnings.Peru’s economy had been in a severe crisis from thebeginning of 1982 and this plague could not have hitthe nation at a worse time. Social expenditures onhealth, education, housing, and employment had beenreduced tremendously—in 1990, social spending wasequivalent to only 28% of 1980 levels, as the nation triedto come to terms with the strict macro-stabilization poli-cies of the World Bank and International MonetaryFund (IMF). A 1991 Standard of Living Survey found

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that 21.7% of the total population was living in extremepoverty (total per capita expenditure below the percapita cost of the basic food basket), while a frighten-ing 53.7% of the population was in a state of criticalpoverty (total per capita ex-penditure below the basicshopping basket, includingfood and nonfood items).39

During the same period,Peru was facing a politicalupheaval with the entranceof newly elected presidentAlberto Fujimori, as well assustained fighting and ter-rorist attacks from theMaoist guerrilla group,Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path). There is a sharpdivide between Peru’s rich and poor, not to mentionthe systematic racism experienced by the nation’s in-digenous peoples. The introduction of cholera at thisperiod was a very heavy straw to be placing on an al-ready burdened camel’s back.

This case study examines how Peru persevered inthe face of this terrible epidemic which raged throughmost of the country in 1991 and 1992. The menace ofcholera, seen at this time in Peru’s history, was a defi-nite security threat. The national economy, in terms ofinternal and external consumption of Peruvian agri/aquacultural goods; Peru’s national workforce; thehealth care system; urban/rural sanitation and drink-ing water; and continued depression of Peru’s poorwere all variables upon which this epidemic put anadded strain. Nonetheless, the disease was containedand violence and chaos did not encroach further intoPeru. The case study provides the Task Force Reportwith analysis of a disease and region where all indica-tors seemingly pointed to a security crisis, but throughrapid and efficient recognition and response to the dis-ease, the problem was solved. It also analyzes the rootsof this disease. It is these roots, that are much like thoseof the other two case studies in this report, that, in manyways, continue to lie dormant in Peru’s social soil. Asthe other cases demonstrate, it is these roots which arepresent throughout much of the developing world.Cholera, tuberculosis, AIDS, and other infectious dis-eases are leading the global community into a moredifficult age. These diseases are the manifestations ofthe ill-health of society and its environment, and thecholera epidemic in Peru is only one example of this.

The economic, social and political setting in Peruin late January of 1991 was highly conducive to therapid expansion of a cholera epidemic. Kaplan’s DarkAges’ scenario was unfolding in Peru in 1991, with allof the warning signs for an imminent security crisis:extreme poverty, large proportion of youth relative tototal population, and rapid urbanization, coupled witha disease epidemic. The next phase of collapse and

violent conflict seemed imminent.Demographic, social and environmental variables

led to the outbreak of cholera in Peru. In turn, choleraexacerbated the variables which led to its emergence

and placed a tremendouspressure on the economic,political and ethnic vari-ables affecting national andinternational security. Spe-cifically, cholera intensifiedPeru’s economic and politi-cal crisis; forced health carecosts to skyrocket; led togreater unemploymentand, therefore, greater lev-els of poverty; exacerbated

ethnic tensions and heightened the possibility of armedresistance with the support of legions of sick, impov-erished, indigenous people; hit Peru’s urban slums andspread rapidly, creating greater population displace-ment pressures, while widening the gulf between richand poor; and finally, offered the illegal drug industryfurther prospective employees—disgruntled citizenswho were desperately seeking a reliable source of in-come.

Through competent domestic leadership in thePeruvian Ministry of Health (MOH), the assistance ofdomestic NGOs and community-based organizations,and the effective use of international health diplomacyin garnering support from international organizations(IOs), neighboring and developed countries, Peru wasable to quickly address the disease and bring it undercontrol. Beyond this, it was able to bring direly neededinternational attention to Peru, which helped push thenation back into a positive direction.

The individual response at a grass-roots level inPeru was also very impressive. In urban shanty-townsand rural villages alike, health, women’s, and neigh-borhood committees were formed in response to theepidemic, and also in response to the nation’s dire eco-nomic state and wide-spread infiltration of drugs.These committees independently assisted Peru in edu-cating the public and aiding the MOH in areas whereinsufficient funds did not allow them to go. In areaswhich could have been hot-beds for rebel insurrectionand recruitment, the people chose rather to opt for theirhealth and stability.

By April of 1991, the UN Disaster Relief Organiza-tion reported total assistance at $5.5 million, with 21governments and the EU donating more than $4.5 mil-lion; the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO),UNICEF, and the Inter-American Development Bankprovided more than $1.5 million; while 15 NGOs hadgiven nearly $1 million.40 The United States view thatthe cholera epidemic was indeed a security threat isevidenced by the convening of a Congressional hear-ing on the epidemic on May 1, 1991. Following that

We are standing on the brink ofa global crisis in infectious dis-eases. No country is safe from

them. No country can anylonger afford to ignore their

threatDr. Hiroshi Makajima, World Health Organization,

World Health Report 1996

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hearing, continued aid flows rushed into Peru throughthe auspices of USAID, the CDC, and federally sup-ported NGOs such as Catholic Relief Services andCARE. Bilateral treaties with Brazil also provided Peruwith more funds, as well as more surveillance powersfor the isolated Amazonian region. By August of 1991,a senior UN administrator officially declared that thespread of cholera had been controlled within Peru.

Peace was maintained and Peru has emerged fromthe crisis in a state that is, in many ways, better thanwhen the disease had struck. In an interview with Dr.Julio Sotelo, national president of the Peruvian-Ameri-can Medical Society, he mused in retrospect, “I don’tknow the reasons, but a country devastated by terror-ism, hyperinflation and lacking the appropriate infra-structure, could not have done better [in addressingthe crisis].”41 As an example to other developing na-tions and the developed world at large, the Peruviancholera epidemic serves as an instance of success whichshould be re-examined for future global crises andwhich, as a still-fragile, developing nation, should notbe forgotten as quickly as it was recognized. At thesame time, it is important to note that many of the un-derlying conditions that enabled the epidemic remain.Until these are addressed, Peru remains especially vul-nerable to the threat of infectious disease.


No one policy can pertain to every type of infec-tious disease, each disease having its own particularcharacteristics and requiring a particular set of solu-tions. However, the three case studies we have sum-marized above share a similar focus for policy recom-mendations. That focus is on prevention instead oftreatment, and lies in the socioeconomic roots of theemergence of all three diseases. There are, however,three general approaches one could take to reduce thesecurity threat which disease epidemics pose to a par-ticular nation or region. These are: (1) a demographicapproach, (2) a clinical approach, and (3) a socioeco-nomic approach.


A demographic approach includes border controls,immigration limits, and population controls. Bordercontrols, for example, aim to keep disease out by pre-venting infected people from coming into a particulararea. This is currently the strategy used by Russia tolimit the spread of HIV—strict border controls to keepout HIV-infected people. But this method can provedifficult to implement, is politically controversial, andis ineffective in diminishing the prevalence of diseaseelsewhere. All three diseases in this study have cer-tain incubation periods, and it is often impossible to

detect if a person is infected, especially if he or sheshows no symptoms whatsoever. Border controls re-quire extensive, high-tech screenings and tests to ef-fectively detect disease-infected individuals.

Limiting immigration does not fully address theproblem either. While it could help reduce the inci-dence rate in one country as opposed to another, tight-ening immigration laws does nothing to prevent thedisease from escalating elsewhere and causing indirecteconomic consequences. Controlling populationgrowth through family planning programs could sig-nificantly alleviate the population pressures which putstress on already overcrowded cities which breed dis-eases. But experience shows that contraceptive pro-grams face huge barriers due to social and cultural tra-ditions of large families and the importance of havingmany children. While family planning is desirable inthe long run, it is an indirect action to combat diseaseand does not guarantee results. Thus, a demographicapproach would be not only expensive, but also diffi-cult to implement and most likely ineffective.


A clinical approach to reducing the threat of infec-tious disease relies on the use of science and technol-ogy—it is a treatment-based approach. For diseasesthat have a cure, like tuberculosis, effective treatmentis possible when all the necessary resources and infra-structure are present to ensure that a disease-infectedperson is completely cured. For most developing coun-tries, a well-managed health system does not exist, andresources are severely limited when large debts alreadyburden their struggling economies. The cases of bothTB and cholera prove the danger of ineffective treat-ment resulting from poorly-managed health care sys-tems. The appearance of drug resistant strains of TB,cholera, and several other diseases today threaten toundermine even good health programs. A clinical ap-proach ignores the lessons of history—the fact that thedecline of infectious diseases at the turn of the centurybegan before drugs were discovered. While medicineand technology helped speed up and reinforce the de-cline, they were not the reasons for the decline as manyhad assumed. The fact is, we cannot be overly opti-mistic about the capabilities of science and technology,because in many cases the microbes outsmart us.

The United States has recently proposed an “Inter-agency Task Force” which would mobilize several U.S.agencies—the Centers for Disease Control, the Depart-ment of Energy, the Federal Drug Administration, theDepartment of Defense, and others—to “help build aninternational network for infectious disease surveil-lance and response.”42 The Task Force would providea mandate for U.S. agencies to coordinate communica-tion networks to detect disease and to mobilize a con-certed response when outbreaks occur. While it re-

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mains to be seen if the proposal for a disease Task Forcewill actually be put into practice—since it is still in itsinfancy stage—it could serve as an effective tool to helpprevent the spread of infectious diseases to the U.S. andto other countries as well. But even this does not ad-dress the heart of the problem. Surveillance and re-sponse teams are not unimportant; the problem is thatthey are still reactive methods of dealing with disease.The root of the disease crisis stems from the conditions,or the disease variables in our model, which allow it todevelop and which perpetuate its spread.

The lessons of AIDS, tuberculosis, and cholerastress the importance of prevention-driven health poli-cies in light of the relationship between environmentalconditions and epidemics. The term “environmentalconditions” refers to the general surroundings in whicha person lives, involving such things as access to food,water, housing, sanitation facilities, education, and gen-eral public health. A third approach then, and we be-lieve the most effective one, is a socioeconomic ap-proach which deals with the conditions that allow dis-ease to spread and develop.


An effective socioeconomic policy to combat dis-ease must look at individual needs and should targetthe community level. Because infectious disease is aglobal problem, this requires the involvement of a va-riety of actors at all levels—international, national, andcommunity levels. In this way a concerted effort andcombination of strategies together can fight to preventdisease before it has a chance to become a securitythreat. These strategies include education, improvedliving conditions, and community-based public health.


First, a key element in the prevention of all infec-tious diseases, especially in the case of HIV/AIDS, isimproved education and awareness of disease. Thisincludes disease awareness programs from primaryschool onwards and practical health training for moth-ers and youth alike. Here, non-governmental organi-zations (NGOs) can play a key role. NGOs can pro-vide training in areas that governments find difficultto deal with—such as promoting the use of condomsor discussing issues related to sexual behavior. Becausethey often involve volunteer action, NGOs can be morededicated, flexible, and cost-effective as executing agen-cies. They also provide a voice for those who other-wise might not be heard, and can bring local concernsto the attention of national and international audiences.Indigenous organizations and local volunteers whoidentify with a particular cultural community can pro-vide an important liaison between education efforts andthe local population.


Attention should be directed most to women, sincethroughout the developing world women are the oneswho nourish their families, collect water and firewood,and clean and maintain their homes. IngarBrueggemann, Secretary General of InternationalPlanned Parenthood Federation, states that womenprovide “more health care than all organized healthservices put together.”43


Alleviating the poor living conditions from whichmost developing populations suffer is crucial to dis-ease prevention. Overcrowding, poor sanitation, mal-nutrition—all of these create the perfect environmentfor endemic disease. Here, a government policy com-mitted to increasing employment, securing access toeducation and training, and giving the poorest mem-bers of society access to land and credit will integratethe poor into both the economy and the community.Community-based training programs, sponsored bythe national government, have the potential to elimi-nate “pockets” of peasants, refugees, and ethnic groupsin order to prevent the trap of poverty and isolationwhich characterizes many inhabitants in urban centers.Private corporations and international organizationscan assist with housing projects to alleviate overcrowd-ing in the cities. Projects like these are already hap-pening. For example, residents in a slum communityin Poona, India “designed their own small but airy brickhouses, bought cheap materials, and then constructedthem with residents and neighbors pitching in.”44

Similarly, slum dwellers in Orangi, a squatter commu-nity in Karachi, Pakistan, laid their own sewage pipesand installed toilets. Using cheap materials and sim-plified technology, the residents themselves built 5,400sewers and 94,000 latrines with $1.8 million of their ownmoney. The project was directed by a research organi-zation called the Orangi Pilot Project, “backed by$105,000 in private funds, which operates with littlegovernment help and often refuses foreign aid.”45 Inaddition, providing the poor members of society withcredit, as is the practice of the Grameen Bank inBombay through its micro-lending policies, can helpempower the local people and relieve governments ofthe some of the burden and responsibility. Providingjob opportunities and training at the community levelin regions outside of large urban centers can also di-minish the adverse effects of urbanization and reducemigration. The net effect of these improvements insocial and economic conditions will alleviate tensionsin society and prevent violent outbreaks which couldresult from continuing poverty and social discontent.

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Finally, disease prevention requires good commu-nity-based health care that has frequent and direct con-tact with the local population and is in touch with in-dividual needs. Often foreign consultants and foreignexperts in various fields, including the field of diseasecontrol, are sent to work in a country they know verylittle about. Foreign donors often prefer entrustingtheir funds to a consultant with whom they are famil-iar; and as a result, they send foreigners to implementelaborate control programs which simply do not workin certain communities.46 For this reason, indigenousconsultants should assist in the direction of foreign orgovernment-funded projects and should oversee theimplementation of those projects. For improvingcommunity-based public health, all members of thelocal population, in addition to indigenous consultantsor experts, should be mobilized to join the effort. Lo-cal members of society who are engaged in health edu-cation campaigns, food preparation, water filtering, andother activities can influence greatly the behavior pat-terns of neighbors and friends. Establishing an envi-ronment for the development and use of indigenousskills is crucial for the success of public health.


Underfunding is a major obstacle to the progressof public health in both developing and developedcountries. Typically, very little money is given to healthcare and disease prevention; even less money is pro-vided for developing countries as more and more in-dustrialized nations make cuts in foreign aid. The UNSpecial Initiative on Africa is a positive sign, but it isan exception to the rule. Because corporations have alarge stake in the success of disease control, as theirlabor force depends on a healthy population, they alsoshould play a part in education and awareness. Pri-vate businesses often have more liberty to allocate re-sources for educational facilities and other programs.Because funding is crucial to the progress of diseasecontrol, contributions of both the private sector andgovernments are necessary for effective prevention.

While infectious disease is most serious in devel-oping countries and most efforts must be focused onthis part of the world, industrialized countries have aclear interest in helping to fund and to implement dis-ease prevention. Recent outbreaks of tuberculosis inNew York and the growing AIDS epidemic nationwidetestifies to the danger of spending cuts to health facili-ties and insufficient commitment to disease prevention.Even a nation as technologically equipped and eco-nomically strong as the United States is not excludedfrom the threat of diseases at home. The fight againstinfectious disease needs a leader, and the U.S. is in thebest position to lead. Collaboration among govern-

ments via the United Nations and the cooperative ef-fort of health institutions like the World Health Orga-nization, the Centers for Disease Control and Preven-tion, the London Institute for Hygiene and TropicalMedicine, and Institut Pasteur could provide the di-rection needed to instigate disease prevention programsand improve the living conditions of many of theworld’s population. Because disease does not discrimi-nate among its victims, all nations should commit tomaintaining public health in their own communitiesand to cooperating with international efforts as well.Preventing outbreaks before they occur will be morecost-effective in the end. We either pay now or we willpay much more later—in both money and human lives.


In this report, we have attempted to demonstratethat infectious disease is a global threat, and that as aglobal threat, it requires global action. But global ac-tion does not mean guarding ports of entry to keep outinfectious germs nor sending a few teams of experts totreat a disease when an outbreak occurs. It does notmean financing expensive after-the-fact control pro-grams nor searching for “magic bullets” to cure everyillness. The lessons of history teach that this approachis both costly and ineffective in the long run. For HIV/AIDS, there is no cure as of today. But if there is a cureeventually, would it mean that AIDS would no longerpose a threat? If it follows the patterns of other “cur-able” diseases in the past, like tuberculosis and chol-era, the answer is “no.” Human neglect caused theseand other “conquered” diseases to return, often in muchdeadlier, incurable forms; and there could be manymore AIDS lurking in the future. As Thomas McKeownstated, “the health of man is determined essentially byhis behavior, his food and the nature of the worldaround him.”47 If humankind is to keep its health, theseare the things it must consider. Fortunately, these arealso within human reach. If we had the power to cre-ate the conditions in which we live today, then surelywe must also have the power to correct these condi-tions. Our very survival may, in fact, depend on it.


1 World Health Organization, “Infectious Diseases KillOver 17 Million People a Year,” http://www.who.ch/whr/1996/press1.htm2 Laurie Garret, “The Return of Infectious Disease,”Foreign Affairs, (Jan-Feb 1996): 66-7.3 Ibid, 73.4 Chicago Tribune, “Experts: City Slums Breeding DeadlyDiseases,” 7 June 1996, C7.5 World Health Organization, “Infectious Diseases KillOver 17 Million People a Year,” http://www.who.ch/

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whr/1996/press1.htm6 Laurie Garrett, “The Return of Infectious Disease,”Foreign Affairs (Jan-Feb 1996): 71.7 Ibid, 71.8 Ibid, 72.9 World Health Organization, “World Health Report1995—Executive Summary,” http://www.who.ch/programmes/whr/xsum95_e.htm#The state of worldhealth10 World Health Organization, “Infectious Diseases KillOver 17 Million People a Year,” http://www.who.ch/whr/1996/press1.htm11 Ibid.12 Eugene Linden, “The Exploding Cities of the Devel-oping World,” Foreign Affairs (Jan-Feb 1996): 53.13 Ted Gurr, Minorities At Risk: A Global View ofEthnopolitical Conflicts (Washington, DC: United StatesInstitute of Peace Press, 1993), 43.14 Ibid, 43.15 World Bank, “The Macroeconomic effects of AIDS,”http://www.worldbank.org/cgi-bin16 Nadir A.L. Mohammed, “The Development Trap:Militarization, Environmental Degradation and Pov-erty and Prospects of Military Conversion,” Organiza-tion for Social Science Research in Eastern Africa, Oc-casional Paper #5, 1994. See also, Mohammed Ayoob,ed., Conflict and Intervention in the Third World, (NewYork, NY: St. Martin’s Press, 1980).17 Robert Kaplan in “Environmental Security & Con-flict: An Overview of the Current Debate,” RichardMatthew, National Security Studies Quarterly (Summer1995): 5.18 Laurie Garrett, “The Return of Infectious Disease,”Foreign Affairs (Jan-Feb 1996): 71.19 Ibid, 70.20 Eugene Linden, “The Exploding Cities of the Devel-oping World,” Foreign Affairs (Jan-Feb 1996): 53.21 World Health Organization, “WHO AIDS ChiefAppeal to Asian Leaders to Face the Reality of an Ex-plosion of AIDS in Asia,” http://www.who.ch/press/1994/pr94-62b.html22 Centers for Disease Control, “About Emerging In-fectious Disease Threats,” http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/publications/eid_plan23 Individuals interested in obtaining copies of thesecase studies should contact the editors of the Environ-mental Change and Security Project Report.24 The Hindu, “AIDS Leading Threat to Public Health,”http://www.webpage.com/hindu/950916/18/1515c.html25 “Mumbai: HIV and AIDS,” http://theory.tifr.res.in/bombay/amenities/sanitation/aids.html

26 Reuter News Wire on “World Bank Targets AIDS inIndia,” October 14, 1996.27 Endnotes for Tuberculosis in South AfricaWorld Health Organization. “A Deadly Partnership:Tuberculosis in the Era of HIV.” (Geneva, Switzerland:World Health Organization: 1996. Publication WHO/TB/96.204), 2.28 World Health Organization. “Groups at Risk: WHOReport on the Tuberculosis Epidemic 1996.” (Geneva,Switzerland: World Heatlh Organization: 1996. Publi-cation WHO/TB/96), 1-2.29 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,Public Health Reports, January, 1996.30 See McKeown, Thomas. The Modern Rise of Popula-tion. (New York: Academic Press: 1976).31 WHO, “A Deadly Partnership,” 32.32 World Health Organization,“Groups at Risk: WHOReport on the Tuberculosis Epidemic 1996” http://w w w. w h o . c h / p r o g r a m m e s / g t b / t b re p _ 9 6 /execsum.htm33 WHO, “A Deadly Partnership,” 33.34 P.J. Dolin and others, eds. “Global Tuberculosis In-cidence and Mortality During 1990-2000,” Bull WorldHealth Organ 72 (1994): 213-220.35 Gerardo International, Inc., “Global Economic Im-pact of HIV and Other Epidemics” http://www.gerardo.com/impact.htm36 World Health Organization, “New York City’s Suc-cess Story”http://www.who.ch/programmes/gtb/tbrep_95/new-york.htm37 Brown, 1595.38 “The Cholera Epidemic in Latin America: Beforethe Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere Affairs, May1, 1991” (Washington DC: U.S. Government PrintingOffice, 1991).39 _________, ed., Health Conditions in the Americas, Vol.II (Washington, D.C.: Pan American Health Organiza-tion, 1994), 349-54.40 “The Cholera Epidemic in Latin America: Before theSubcommittee on Western Hemisphere Affairs, May 1,1991” (Washington DC: U.S. Government Printing Of-fice, 1991), 18.41 Sotelo, Dr. Julio, National President, Peruvian-American Medical Society, Interview, 26 October 1996.42 Endnotes for Policy Recommendations “Global Mi-crobial Threats in the 1990s.” http://www.whitehouse.gov/WH/EOP/OSTP/CISET/html/5.html43 Brueggemann, Ingar. “Investing in People.” EarthTimes. Oct. 1995, 27.44 “Helping Squatters Help Themselves.” World PressReview. Aug. 1996, 11.45 Ibid, 12.46 Rweyemamu, “Dump the Foreign Experts.” The EastAfrican. 13-19 May 1996. In World Press Review. August

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1996, 48.47 McKeown, Thomas. The Modern Rise of Population.New York: Academic Press, 1976, 162.


Garrett, Laurie, “The Return of Infectious Disease,”Foreign Affairs (Jan-Feb 1996): 66-79.

Linden, Eugene, “The Exploding Cities of the Devel-oping World,” Foreign Affairs (Jan-Feb 1996): 52-65.

McKeown, Thomas. The Modern Rise of Population. NewYork: Academic Press, 1976.

World Health Organization, “HIV and AIDS: Where isthe Epidemic Going?”, Bulletin of the World Health Or-ganization, March 1996.

World Health Organization. “A Deadly Partnership:Tuberculosis in the Era of HIV” Geneva, Switzerland:World Health Organization: 1996. Publication WHO/TB/96.204.

World Health Organization. “Groups at Risk: WHOReport on the Tuberculosis Epidemic 1996,” Geneva,Switzerland: World Health Organization: 1996. Publi-cation WHO/TB/96.

AIDS in India

“Experts: City Slums Breeding Deadly Diseases,” Chi-cago Tribune, 7 June 1996, C7.

Reuter News Wire, “World Bank Targets AIDS in In-dia,” October 14, 1996.

Sources from the Internet

Centers for Disease Control, “About Emerging Infec-tious Disease Threats,”http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/publications/eid_plan

“Mumbai: HIV and AIDS,”http://theory.tifr.res.in/bombay/amenities/sanitation/aids.htmlThe Hindu, “AIDS Leading Threat to Public,”http://www.webpage.com/hindu/950916/18/1515c.html

World Bank, “The Macroeconomic Effects of AIDS,”http://www.worldbank.org/cgi-bin

World Health Organization, “WHO AIDS Chief Ap-peals to Asian Leaders to Face the Reality of an Explo-sion of AIDS in Asia,” http://www.who.ch/press/1994/pr94-62b.html

World Health Organization, “Infectious Diseases Kill

Over 17 Million People a Year,” http://www.who.ch/whr/1996/press1.htm_____. “World Health Report 1995 Executive Sum-mary,” http://www.who.ch/programmes/whr/xsum95_e.htm#The state of world health

Tuberculosis in Africa

Brueggemann, Ingar. “Investing in People,” EarthTimes. October 1995, 27.

Dolin P J, Raviglione M C, Kochi A. “Global tubercu-losis incidence and mortality during 1990-2000,” Bulle-tin of the World Health Organization, 72 (199): 213-220.

Geiger, H. Jack. “Letter from South Africa,” 1995 USDepartment of Health and Human Services; Public HealthReports. (March/April 1995): 114-116.

“Helping Squatters Help Themselves,” World PressReview. August 1996, 11.

Rweyemamu, “Dump the Foreign Experts,” The EastAfrican. 13-19 May 1996. In World Press Review. Au-gust 1996, 48.

Personal Interviews

Andrew J. Heetderks, Program Consultant, Divisionof Tuberculosis Elimination, Centers for Disease Con-trol and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, 10/11/96

Harry A. Stern, On-Site Botswana Worker, Division ofTuberculosis Elimination, Centers for Disease Controland Prevention, Atlanta, GA, 10/11/96

Patrick L. F. Zuber, M.D., M. P. H., EIS Officer, Divisionof Tuberculosis Elimination, Centers for Disease Con-trol and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, 10/11/96

Sources from the Internet

Gerardo International, Inc., “Global Economic Impactof HIV and Other Epidemics” http://www.gerardo.com/impact.htm

White House Reports, “Global Microbial Threats in the1990s.” http://www.whitehouse.gov/WH/EOP/OSTP/CISET/html/5.html

World Health Organization, “New York City’s SuccessStory”http://www.who.ch/programmes/gtb/tbrep_95/new-york.htm

Cholera in Peru

______, ed., Health Conditions in the Americas, Vols. I, II,

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Washington, D.C.: Pan American Health Organization,1994.______, “The Cholera Epidemic in Latin America,”Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Western Hemi-sphere Affairs of the Committee on Foreign Affairs,House of Representatives, 102nd Congress, May 1, 1991,Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office,1991.


Wright, Gloria, Georgetown Department of Nursing,10/21/96

Epstein, Yanka, Representative of the Pan AmericanHealth Organization, Division of Diseases Preventionand Control, 10/18/96

Sotelo, Dr. Julio, President of the Peruvian AmericanMedical Society, 10/18/96, 10/26/96

Bibliography for Model

Ayoob, Mohammed, ed. Conflict and Intervention in theThird World, New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press, 1980.

Gurr, Ted Robert, Minorities At Risk: A Global View ofEthnopolitical Conflicts, Washington, DC: United StatesInstitute of Peace Press, 1993.

Homer-Dixon, Thomas F., “Environmental Scarcity andMass Violence,” Conflict and the Environment, NATOAdvanced Research Workshop, Bolkesjo, 12 -16 June1996.

Matthew, Richard, “Environmental Security & Conflict:An Overview of the Current Debate,” National SecurityStudies Quarterly (Summer 1995): 1-10._____. “Rethinking Environmental Security,” N. P.Gleditsch (ed.), Environment and Conflict (Amsterdam:Kluwer, forthcoming 1997).

Mohammed, Nadir A.L., “The Development Trap: Mili-tarization, Environmental Degradation and Povertyand Prospects of Military Conversion,” Organization forSocial Science Research in Eastern Africa, Occasional Pa-per #5, 1994.

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Report On Applying Military and SecurityAssets to Environmental Problems

Task Force: Nathan Ruff (Leader), Robert Chamberlain and Alexandra Cousteau


With the end of the Cold War, the United States military and intelligence communities have been searchingfor new enemies and new roles. The demise of the Soviet Union presented an opportunity to revisit traditionalconceptions of security and consider new missions such as heightened counter-terrorist activities and protec-tion of U.S. firms against economic espionage. In this project, special attention has been given to the importanceof environmental change. The exploration of linkages between environmental change and security has devel-oped into a complex debate focused on two fundamental and interrelated questions:

• Is environmental change a “traditional” security threat?• In any case, what role is best played by the military and intelligence communities?

Consideration of the natural environment and security together is certainly not a new phenomenon. Naturalresources and strategic minerals have long been considered vital to a nation’s security, and well within the realmof military attention. In addition, states’ actions in pursuit of security or the prosecution of war have beenharmful to the natural environment.1 Dabelko summarizes the idea of environmental security as follows:

Environmental security has emerged as a transnational idea, the core of which holds that environmentaldegradation and depletion, largely human-induced, pose fundamental threats to the physical security ofindividuals, groups, societies, states, natural ecosystems, and the international system. Security institu-tions in particular are currently failing to redress these threats. All institutions, according to the centraltenets of the idea, must better address these threats. The alternative if these threats are not addressed willlikely be economic, social and/or political conflict that will continue and increase as human, societal, andecosystem health and welfare decreases (Dabelko, 1996, p. 2).

The aim of this report is to examine what the military and intelligence communities can do to alleviate orsolve the problems identified under the rubric of environmental security issues. It presents three approaches tounderstanding environmental security, offers a synthesized model that underscores environmental factors asthreats to security, and applies this model to two cases. The case studies examine varying environmental prob-lems, and yield a number of general prescriptions for policy makers.



Ecological conceptions of environmental security focus on a competitive environment in which humankindand nature are at odds. Some proponents of this perspective take an uncompromisingly ecocentric view, main-taining that the environment must be protected from human intervention at all costs.2 Less exclusive view-points include “microsecurity,” the competition between man and microorganisms as identified by Dennis Pirages;concern over man’s continued extermination of thousands of plant and animal species (biodiversity loss); andconcern with the irrevocable tampering with the assembly rules of ecosystems planetwide.

To mitigate and end mankind’s assault on nature, ecological interpretations of environmental security placevalue on cooperation as the most appropriate means for achieving their goals, largely through multilateralmechanisms focused on the root causes of environmental change.


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The human-based concept of environmental secu-rity concentrates on the minimization of human suf-fering and addresses issues related to environmentalcleanup, economic sustainability, and the emergenceof exotic diseases.3

Norman Myers is perhaps the best known advo-cate of this approach to environmental security. Myers,in his efforts to emphasize individual well-being as theguiding principal for national security, seeks to radi-cally redefine the very notion of “security,” shifting itsfocus from territorial sovereignty to individual welfare.Dabelko believes that whereas ecological approachestreat the underlying causes of the environmental cri-sis, human security approaches are generally reactive,responding to degradation that is already apparent.


A third approach adopts a conventional militarysecurity focus. At the center of U.S. military concep-tions of environmental security is research on environ-mental change as a cause of conflict. Although currentresearch does not support the idea that environmentalstress can trigger interstate conflict, it has indicated that,in league with other contributing factors, environmen-tal conflict can lead to subnational, or intrastate vio-lence (Homer-Dixon, 1994).

In view of this research, environmental variablesare being identified by some within traditional secu-rity institutions as a threat that must be added to thelist of traditionally established threats that analysts andmilitary planners consider when attempting to antici-pate coups, political instability, mass migrations, andviolent conflicts (Butts, 1994a).

Another aspect of military security deals with“greening” the military. For example, the ClintonAdministration’s Office of the Deputy Under Secretaryof Defense for Environmental Security is charged with,among other responsibilities, compliance with nationalenvironmental regulations, taking a more ecologicalapproach to doing business, and cleaning bases wheremilitary excesses threaten civilian populations.4

In summarizing current thinking on the role of thetraditional security community, Gary Vest, the Princi-pal Assistant to the Deputy Under Secretary, has out-lined a six-point Department of Defense (DoD) con-ception of environmental security:

DoD’s view of Environmental Security is com-prised of the following: (1) ensuring environmen-tally responsible action by military units whereverthey may be; (2) ensuring adequate access to land,air and water to conduct a defense mission; (3) pro-tecting the DoD’s war-fighting assets (people,equipment and facilities); (4) understanding whereenvironmental conditions contribute to instabil-

ity, and where the environment fits into the warand peace equation; (5) bringing defense-relatedenvironmental concerns to the development ofnational security; (6) studying how defense com-ponents can be used as instruments of U.S. globalenvironmental policy (ECSP Report 2, 133).

At least in theory, it would appear that Vest’s six-point program could be compatible with any under-standing of the linkage between environment and se-curity. Many are skeptical, however, that the militaryand intelligence communities can or should play a con-structive role in addressing environmental problems.We have identified five specific ways in which thoseassets could be—and to some extent are being—usedeffectively (see Matthew, 1996). These are:•support R & D—the Administration can use militaryresearch to broaden technological solutions to problemsof environmental scarcity and degradation;•transfer skills—the U.S. military can work closely withother militaries to “green” their institutions by foster-ing environmental sensitivity and training others inenvironmental impact assessments and environmen-tally sensitive techniques;•make better use of National Technical Means (NTM)data—the United States can monitor and report onmany aspects of the environment, from soil degrada-tion to population migration;•threaten force to compel compliance from other na-tions on environmental agreements;•conflict resolution—in cases where environmentalscarcity does lead to conflict, the United States can ap-ply security assets to monitor cease-fires, troop move-ments, and provide logistical support to humanitarianefforts.

The following case studies of Russia and Rwandaunderscore the value of using military and intelligenceassets, describe current activities along these lines, andsuggest directions for the future.



Russia is an unstable country that continues to“control” the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons inthe world. It is undergoing a transformation that threat-ens to tear apart the very fabric it is attempting torestitch. Its governing body is factionalized, rogue lead-ers operate with impunity, the economy is in ruin, andits military assets are guarded with less vigilance thanwould be recommended by the world community.5Add to this scenario environmental conditions thatborder on unlivable, and a picture of impending disas-ter begins to crystallize.

Russia represents a unique situation in which theepitome of traditional security concerns, the nuclearthreat, blends with newly developed ideas of environ-


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mental security. The fusion of these two terms yieldan enhanced threat to the United States. Not only doesthe fear exist that the Former Soviet Union (FSU) couldslip back into a state of Cold War antagonism againstthe United States or that nuclear weapons might fallinto the wrong hands, but these possibilities are exac-erbated by the strains of economic and environmentalstress Russia is undergoing. The United States has anobvious interest in disarming these problems beforethey reach a critical threshold. Russia’s instability cutsacross all fronts, political, economic, military and en-vironmental; a satisfactory response must address allfour sources of instability. This case study examinesthe specific role that military and intelligence assets doand can play in achieving this goal.


The model that is presented in Figure 1 shows howenvironmental instability (comprised of pollution, ra-diation, and resource scarcity) can work to directlydestabilize Russia as well as enhance political, eco-nomic, and military destabilization vectors. This sameenvironmental instability can affect the United Statesdirectly by disrupting international environmental in-

tegrity through ozone depletion, global warming, anddeforestation. An unstable Russia promotes fears of“loose nukes,” and ultimate failure of the state wouldresult in a destabilized world community. This wouldcreate intense, detrimental effects to the United States.Finally, this world destabilization would cycle back ina negative feedback loop and exert renewed stress onthe four frontiers of initial instability.

RUSSIA, 1996

The conditions in the FSU have eroded to a level atwhich human existence is being threatened. This mayseem an extreme statement, but there are a number ofWestern experts, as well as the Deputy Minister of Pub-lic Health in Russia, Nikolay Vaganov, who believe thatthe Russian gene pool is on the verge of irreparabledamage. The cause of these conditions has not comefrom the West, as so many Soviets foresaw; rather, inan ironic twist of fate, the destruction of Russia’s moth-erland has developed as a byproduct of Soviet attemptsto achieve national security and economic growth. Atpresent, Russia’s continuation as a sovereign and stablecountry is being severely threatened by its lack of en-vironmental management. The stress on its internal



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security is developing into a pressure felt throughoutthe entire world system.

Unfortunately, problems have been amplified,rather than alleviated, by the collapse of the SovietUnion due to the difficulties Russia has had in restruc-turing its command economy into a free marketeconomy. Quite simply, there is not enough moneyavailable in the government to move Russia throughits transition. Taxes are not being collected effectively,huge expenses are still being devoted to an oversizedmilitary machine, and corruption has reached unprec-edented levels and organization. Steve Blank of theU.S. Army War College in Pennsylvania has describedRussia as a “failing state.” These dire economic condi-tions have further degraded an environment in whichRussian health and the longevity of its people are be-ing threatened.

As Murray Feshbach states, “reproductive healthis one of the most accurate indicators of public healthoverall, as well as of local ecological conditions. Prob-ably no other statistic epitomizes the current societalcrisis facing Russia than that there are two abortionsfor every three pregnancies ( 1995, p. 10).” Infant mor-tality is at an all time high, the morbidity and mortal-ity of the general public are rising, and birth defectsfrom radiation poisoning are creating a situation inwhich “there is a danger of the nation’s physical de-generation, of irreparable damage to its genetic fund(p. 12).”

The lakes, seas, rivers, wetlands, and public watersupply are nearly all contaminated with chemical, ra-dioactive, and human waste. The great forests in Sibe-ria, second only to the Brazilian rain forests as a sourceof planetary oxygen production, are under attack fromacid rain, pollution, and industrial clearing. Air qual-ity has deteriorated to such an extent that a popularbelief in Russia is that “living longer means breathingless.” The dumping of nuclear byproducts is unsuper-vised, nuclear power plants are run “blindly,” and thefear of fissile material smuggling has put the entireworld community on alert. In essence, the evident de-terioration of the last five years which has brought thecontinued existence of Russia as we know it into ques-tion is, in part, the culmination of 50 years of environ-mental mismanagement and abuse.


The situation in Russia is unstable. General envi-ronmental degradation in Russia is a cause of internaldistress as well as external pressure. Not only are na-tional concerns an issue, the overall welfare of the glo-bal system as linked by oceans, jet streams, andecobalance is in jeopardy. For these reasons, the secu-rity of the United States is being compromised by fourmajor threats. The first two fall under the aegis of tra-ditional security issues, while the second two reflectenvironmental security concerns.

First, the nuclear threat from the FSU has beentransformed from fear of a nuclear strike to fear ofnuclear ineptitude. Chernobyl-like accidents in the fu-ture are seen as an eventuality if old and unsafe RMBKreactors are not shut down in Russia. In addition, theeconomic stress that Russia is experiencing opens thedoor to organized crime, the smuggling of fissile ma-terials to terrorists, and the enticement of unpaidnuclear specialists to aggressive Third World countriesas consultants to their growing nuclear programs.Many divisions of the Russian army have not been paidin three months.

Second, the fear that Russia could revert back toCold War status is a priority concern. The sociopoliticalthreat of internal revolt lends itself to the possibilitythat a successful coup could take place in a countrythat has the military might to throw the world into anuclear winter. If a small number of hard-line, old-school military leaders, or an unstable militant faction,takes control of Russia’s stockpile of weapons of massdestruction, they would be in a position to blackmailthe world community and especially the United States.The advantages that the U.S. military and intelligencecommunity provide in addressing these first two con-cerns are evident and fall into the category of tradi-tional national security issues.

Third, United States national security is threateneddirectly by environmental degradation as shown in themodel. Global warming, ozone depletion, global re-source pollution, and ecobalance destruction all affectthe collective future of the planet directly. The conse-quences may vary from increased incidence of skincancer to lower crop yields and worse. Regardless, theresults are negative.

Fourth, environmental stress can adversely affectU.S. security indirectly by causing regional instabilityat an international level. Certain areas of the worldwill succumb more rapidly then others to the tensionscreated by environmental stress. This can trigger sec-ondary effects which ultimately result in internationalconflict. The Arab-Israeli War in 1967, often dubbed awater war, represents a perfect example of this scenario.If one is to believe the dire predictions of Robert Kaplan(1994), this type of war is a prototype for armed con-flict in the 21st century.6 The reasoning follows a lin-ear progression of cumulatively critical conflicts: forexample, global warming exacerbates the necessity forwater in various regions of the world, resulting in massmigrations; these migrations put undo stress on neigh-boring countries which are forced to aggressively stemthe human tide; this conflict escalates into local wars,and it ultimately destabilizes the region. As recent his-tory has shown, this would pull the UN and the UnitedStates into the fray and could lead to an internationalsystemic crash. Thus, it is in the United States’ nationalsecurity interest, in both traditional and revised forms,to follow a policy of pressure point intervention in or-


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der to defuse such situations before they reach criticalthreshold. Before precautions can be taken, pressurepoints must be identified where resources can be ap-plied most effectively. It is at this point that the mili-tary and intelligence community can provide invalu-able assistance.



A major role of support can be undertaken by theintelligence community and the military establishmentthough the identification of present and future areas ofconcern (an early warning system), the monitoring ofRussian deterioration as well as environmental treatycompliance (space based observation), and the provi-sion of archived environmental information (bilateralinformation transfers—BITs).

The feasibility of having the military and intelli-gence community address these environmental secu-rity concerns, as opposed to traditional national secu-rity threats, was the topic of a study conducted in 1992.Under the urging of Vice President Gore and the bless-ing of then Director Robert Gates, the CIA chose 70 ci-vilian environmental scientists with whom they pairedCIA officials to create an unprecedented task force—now known as the Medea Group. The goal was to an-swer the question of whether the U.S. Cold War spyequipment could be used effectively to combat envi-ronmental degradation. The scientists were given se-curity clearances and allowed to examine the CIA’sarchives of photographic and radar images, atmo-spheric data, and undersea records. In addition, theywere allowed to access the spy satellites directlythrough their control at the National ReconnaissanceOffice (NRO). As Robert Dreyfuss makes clear in hisarticle, “Spying on the Environment,” the scientists’initial report leaves no doubt that the intelligencecommunity’s archives and collection devices could pro-vide invaluable clues to understanding global environ-mental change. Unfortunately, the task force’s find-ings may never be productively used by the environ-mental community at large because of the CIA’s fear ofrevealing too much information regarding their collec-tion processes. Their chief worry concerns compromis-ing the United State’s ability to successfully collect in-formation pertinent to immediate national security is-sues. They fear that if reconnaissance pictures fall intothe wrong hands, certain of their gathering capacitieswill be compromised. Just as one can tell where a pho-tographer is standing by looking at a normal picture,so too can experts triangulate the locational path of re-mote sensing satellites from the images they record.Thus, if satellite imaging was made public, this infor-mation could be used to inhibit the United States inobtaining information later. This fear is not unfounded.

During the 1992 Gulf War, Saddam Hussein is said

to have been able to protect a trove of scud missilesfrom allied attack based on information he receivedfrom unclassified satellite reconnaissance. “The Iraqisdemonstrated on numerous occasions their accurateunderstanding of the limitations of U.S. technical col-lections systems and of how data gathered by such sys-tems were interpreted. The catalogue of techniquesused by the Iraqis to thwart these systems includesconstruction of buildings within buildings; deliberatelymaking buildings designed to the same plans and forthe same purposes look different; and dispersing andplacing facilities underground” (Godson, p. 109).

Certainly security concerns of this nature must becontrasted against the potential benefits of making sat-ellite imagery public. Ideally, sensitive informationcould be kept “in-house” and only cleared members ofthe scientific community and policy makers could ac-cess it. In this way, environmental degradation couldbe effectively attacked using our extensive intelligenceresources without compromising their integrity.



The benefits of remote sensing are quite impres-sive. Robert Dreyfuss was able to obtain an eight-pagedraft summary of the Medea Group’s findings whichlaid out the possible applications that the United Statesremote sensing capabilities have to fight environmen-tal degradation. The report says that “[c]hanges in veg-etative and desert boundaries, which may be sensitiveindicators of global climate change, can be tracked overtime by satellite systems. The monitoring of changesin ocean temperature could provide a direct measure-ment of global warming. Undersea listening systemsalso may be able to detect this effect by measuringchanges in ocean sound speed over long distances.”Where civilian satellites such as LANDSAT can pro-duce color images of land areas and oceans, “the NRO’ssatellites can actually zoom in and count the numberof trees in a certain area and even determine what spe-cies they are.” In addition, if the satellites are pro-grammed to “take a reflection of, let us say, sunlightoff the top of a forest canopy, you can do a spectralanalysis of the composition of the forest,” says BruceBerkowitz, the former CIA analyst (as quoted by Rob-ert Dreyfuss). “That will tell you if [the forest] is defi-cient in certain chemicals that are associated withhealthy vegetation.” These are all pertinent and highlyvaluable tools that could be used to analyze Siberiandeforestation and sea pollution in Russia (Dreyfuss,1995, pp. 28-35).

Other dynamic applications were discovered by theCIA. Again from Robert Dreyfuss’ access to the report,“satellite radar devices and submarines could combineto measure the thickness of the polar ice pack, whosevariation provides a good indicator of climate change”


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(p. 31). Ice floes, undersea volcanoes, whale migrations,earthquakes, and scientific buoys that monitor oceantemperatures, salinity and currents are all trackablewith our intelligence/military assets. More specifically,remote sensing activities could be used in Russia toaccomplish the following specific goals:• Tracking of impending ecological disasters;• Determination of ecological disaster areas and landdegradation;• Reaction to emergency situations;• Tracking of global geological processes such asearthquakes, volcanoes, etc.;• Monitor forest diseases, pest infestation, pollutionimpact on tree cover;• Monitor pollution of surface and undergroundwater;• Assist in cartography, locate mineral deposits, trackice floe movements.If this information was continuously declassified to theextent that it could be shared by scientists across na-tional boundaries, not only would Russia benefit, sotoo would the United States and the world commu-nity as a whole.

Further destruction of common resources could beaddressed rapidly, accurately, and more effectively byemploying this specialized space-based monitoringtechnology. In particular, the assistance that this infor-mation could provide to Russia’s State Committee onProtection of the Environment (Goskompriroda), theagency in charge of environmental clean-up and pro-tection, might enable it to target areas of immediateconcern, convince Politburo diplomats of the urgencyof environmental concerns, and lend credibility to theinstitution’s overall mission.


Positive steps in this direction are already beingundertaken by Vice-President Al Gore and RussianPrime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. The Gore–Chernomyrdin Commission was developed by Vice-President Gore, who recognized that underlying envi-ronmental problems are linked directly to the futurestability and security of Russia, and in part to addressthe United States’ and Russia’s shared concern of glo-bal degradation. In January 1992, in a meeting of thiscommission, the value of bilateral intelligence assetswas demonstrated. Maps prepared from classified as-sets that depicted environmental contamination atEglin Air Force Base in Florida and Yeysk airbase inRussia were exchanged. Speaking at the National De-fense University on August 8, 1996, Sherri Wasserman-Goodman, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Envi-ronmental Security), said that the administration“hope[s] to continue this cooperation and develop ourrespective capabilities previously used exclusively forintelligence purposes to support creation of warningmechanisms for potential crises. . . .Last year DoD co-

sponsored a conference with the Intelligence Commu-nity on environmental security and national security.The conference participants concluded that the Intelli-gence Community has the information-gathering in-frastructure and the ability to perform integrated analy-sis on linkages between environmental problems andother instability factors necessary to contribute to anindications and warning system.”

This type of arrangement seems to represent a pro-totype for future BITs and multilateral informationswaps. Former Secretary of Defense William Perryadvocated a policy of “preventive defense” in whichpromoting military environmental cooperation wouldcontribute significantly to the overall security of theUnited States. “All over the world, American forcesare sharing the wealth of their environmental experi-ence with foreign militaries, showing them by exampleand instruction how to protect and preserve the air,lands, and waters in their own countries.”

The Department of Defense has established a num-ber of environmental defense relationships that seekto achieve Secretary Perry’s “preventive defense”policy. One of the most important of these relation-ships involves the U.S. and Russia bilaterally, and theaddition of Norway to form a trilateral arrangement,focused on the environmentally fragile and militarilyactive Arctic region. Arctic Military Environmental Co-operation (AMEC) was begun in 1994 and has alreadyevaluated specific projects to reduce environmentaldegradation caused in the Arctic by defense activities.Secretary Perry signed a memorandum on Coopera-tion in Environmental Protection Issues with the Rus-sian Minister of Defense in 1995. Goodman states thatthe “U.S. and Russia are utilizing the MOU’s informa-tion exchange mechanisms as the beginning of a newbilateral environmental relationship.” In late October,1996, she led a delegation to Russia in order to exchangeexperiences in environmental education and training.


Ronald Deibert represents those opposed to obtain-ing environmental assistance from the military and theintelligence communities. He proposes that “the useof U.S. satellite reconnaissance offers a clear illustra-tion of the perils of redirecting military expertise to-wards the environment. This argument rests on thebelief that military and civilian approaches are incom-patible in fundamental ways” (unpublished manu-script, “Out of Focus: U.S. Military Satellites and Envi-ronmental Rescue”).

In part, this group believes that the existing tech-nology and skills in use by the CIA and NRO were notdesigned for scientific applications, and thus the datarecovered may be of limited value. This fear wouldseem to be dispelled by the optimistic reports from the70 scientists who worked on the CIA project. Moreproblematic is the resistance of the military and intelli-


gence agencies to releasing data. Even when the datais released, important information on how the data wasgathered is often omitted for security reasons. The sci-entific community is then left with no way to evaluatethe accuracy of the information or to determine its ori-gin. John Pike of the Federation of American Scientists(as quoted by Dreyfuss) adds, “[t]he cultural antago-nism here is that the fundamental tenet in science isthat you tell everyone everything, and the fundamen-tal tenet in intelligence is that you don’t tell anyoneanything” (1995, p. 34).

Finally, there is the fear that the military/intelli-gence community will mislead the scientific commu-nity by altering or selectively passing on certain infor-mation to advance other goals. This concern could bealleviated if the NRO, CIA, or whichever agency wascharged with dissemination of important environmen-tal security information cleared a number of scientistswho would be integrally involved in the collection andassessment of the significant information. Deibertwould probably argue that the fundamental dilemmaremains; if the CIA has been able to evade Presidentialscrutiny in the past, what chance do a handful of sci-entists have at playing the role of task-master. A moreeffective solution might be to apply the expertise thatthe United States has developed in building interna-tional regimes to this problem. Through incrementaland cumulative steps, confidence could be built be-tween the scientific and intelligence communities. Cre-ation of an institution that would act as a central clear-ing house for declassifying and disseminating intelli-gence on a continual basis would create an environ-ment where distrust and uncertainty would be greatlyreduced through a gradual, collaborative, confidence-inspiring process of incremental gains. Both sideswould realize that they had to cooperate over time, andthe traditional “we versus they” mindset of the mili-tary and intelligence sectors would prove itself ineffi-cient in this institutionalized setting.



An important question remains to be addressed:Does the scientific community really need the satelliteinformation gathered by military means when there isa large, public sector, space-based collection network.Meteorological satellites, such as the GOES (Geosta-tionary Operational Environmental Satellite) and POES(Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite)series of weather satellites, the non-meteorological U.S.LANDSAT and the French SPOT satellite series, as wellas the European ERS–1, the Japanese JERS–1, and theCanadian RADARSAT SAR satellites perform a vastarray of environmental missions for scientific users.

In addition, NASA is in the process of expandingthe amount of earth science data available to scientists

through the development of its Earth Observing Sys-tem (EOS) and the EOSDIS (Data and Information Sys-tem) which will serve as the key link between the datacollected by the satellite systems and the scientistsworking on global change research. The $8 billion EOSproject is the centerpiece of NASA’s Mission to PlanetEarth (MTPE). “In conjunction with its internationalpartners, the U.S. plans a program of civilian Earthobservation to provide, by the early years of the nextcentury, the comprehensive collection of data on re-sources, weather, and natural and human-inducedphysical and chemical changes on land, in the atmo-sphere, and in the oceans. These programs are unprec-edented in both their scope and cost,” as described bythe Office of Technology Assessment to the U.S. Con-gress (Congressional Report, Failure of Remote Sens-ing from Space: Civilian Satellite Systems and Appli-cations Office of Technology Assessment 1988). Un-fortunately, the limitations of satellite based platformsand budgetary cutbacks “will prevent process-orientedstudies from being performed at the level of detail thatis required to address the most pressing scientific ques-tions.” Although MTPE total budget has increased asa percent of its total project balance, its funding wascut from $11 billion to $8 billion. Intelligence commu-nity funding is estimated at $23 billion, of which a largeportion goes to space-based technology. For financialreasons alone, continued reliance on the military andintelligence community’s technology is likely to benecessary for supplemental information.

Although great advances are being made in thenon-classified public and private sector, the technol-ogy costs a great deal of money and a long lead time isnecessary to bring it to operational status. The scien-tific community will need to continue to strengthen itsties with the military and intelligence community inorder to access important environmental informationfor at least the next five years. In addition, certain tech-nologies will always remain under the aegis of the mili-tary/intelligence realm due to their extraordinary costand levels of advancement. Even when EOS is up andoperating, scientists will need to supplement thesystem’s vast reconnaissance with specialized informa-tion from the NRO, NIMA, and others. Because globaldegradation is a problem now, immediate cooperationbetween the public and military sectors needs to becontinued and improved.


The case of Russia demonstrates the need and earlysuccess of U.S. military and intelligence activities insupport of environmental security policy. New satel-lite information and the archived trends with which itis contrasted present an important way in which themilitary and intelligence community can assist presentday concerns and help to defuse potential future prob-lems that will affect U.S. national security. To further

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their contribution, the military and the intelligence sec-tors need to coordinate their efforts through a central-ized institution that can work directly with the scien-tific community. Through the application of their ana-lytical skills and expertise in crisis management, moni-toring technology, and extensive databases of archivedinformation, they can play a major role in addressingnational security concerns of an environmental nature.By developing an early warning system that couldproject potential hot-spots internationally, Perry’s ideaof “preventive defense” can be achieved. Military-to-Military Contact and Security Assistance Programs willenable our non-sensitive expertise and environmentalassessment technologies to be utilized to restore acuteareas of foreign degradation. By targeting pivotal statessuch as Russia and China, the interests of U.S. securitywill be directly served. Finally, by incorporating envi-ronmental expertise into all aspects of U.S. foreignpolicy and international negotiation, a strong, healthy,safe United States will be maintained for future gen-erations. The application of these ideas requires long-term thinking, vision, and leadership; attributes thatare becoming more and more dominant in the policyleaders we elect to steer our country into the next mil-lennium.


The tragedy that unfolded in Rwanda in 1994 iswidely accepted as an example of environmental scar-city combining with population pressures to precipi-tate intrastate conflict. Along with many others, theClinton Administration has expressed its belief that en-vironmental factors were significant contributors to thegenocide.

This case study suggests two things. First, policymakers need to be careful about assuming that conflictin the Third World is the result of environmental prob-lems. The case of Rwanda suggests that environmen-tal factors played a small role in contributing to theviolence. Second, there remains a significant gap be-tween the position of the Administration and the be-havior of the security community. In this case the mili-tary reponded in a conventional manner. Perhaps itrecognized the problem for what it really was; morelikely it has not yet adequately accepted and internal-ized the concept of environmental security.


States once regarded as inconsequential to Ameri-can national interest are being given a closer look asenvironmental factors have been identified as a key tounderstanding the causes of conflict. One reason forthis is the belief that environmentally related conflictmay increase in the near future. If this is true, it is im-portant to study cases as they arise. Moreover, such

cases are of general interest because they involve anissue—environmental change—that is increasingly cen-tral to U.S. foreign policy. Consequently, although farremoved from direct contact with the United States,Rwanda, under this new understanding, did indeedmerit American interest.

At first blush, the case of Rwanda appears to fitthe model of environmental change and conflict de-veloped and popularized by Thomas Homer-Dixon.Homer-Dixon’s research has indicated that environ-mental scarcity, defined as degradation or depletion ofa resource (scarcity of supply), increased consumptionof a resource (scarcity due to demand—brought aboutby population growth or high per capita resource con-sumption), and uneven distribution that gives relativelyfew people disproportionate access to the resource andsubjects the rest to scarcity (structural scarcity), affectsthe intermediate social variables often believed to bethe underlying causes of subnational conflict (Homer-Dixon, 1996). These intermediate social variables in-clude endemic poverty, weakened institutions, and in-creased inter-group competition that can ultimatelylead to instability and civil conflict (Homer-Dixon,1996). It is important to note that rather than a linearprogression of primary environmental stressors lead-ing to secondary social effects that result in tertiary re-sults, these factors all interact, and can amplify and re-inforce one another in a cascade series that ultimatelywill result in the negative outcomes described.

The Clinton Administration believes that what thisresearch portends for the rest of the world is clear: in-creasing competition for resources will mean that civilconflict and failed states will increase, placing a heavyburden on those countries in the North which, lessvulnerable to this sort of problem, may nonethelesssuffer indirectly and be called upon to help resolve it.What this means for the United States is also clear: in-creasing global misery will eventually affect not onlythe American economic way of life, but also prospectsfor global democratic governance, as developing stateslose the capacity to govern effectively. In the long term,global instability will come to greatly affect U.S. na-tional security. In the short term, responding to com-plex disasters precipitated by environmental factorswill require expensive humanitarian relief operationsthat, more often than not, do not work out as planned.



Robert Kaplan’s 1994 The Atlantic Monthly article,“The Coming Anarchy,” caught the imagination of theClinton White House, and resulted in a greater Admin-istration focus on the environment as a cause of con-flict. In addition to Clinton’s speech before the Na-tional Academy of Sciences, Timothy Wirth, the UnderSecretary of State for Global Affairs stated:

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Resource scarcities are a root cause of the violentconflicts that have convulsed civil society inRwanda, Haiti, and Chiapas. These conflicts couldintensify and widen as ever-growing populationscompete for an ever-dwindling supply of land, fuel,and water….In Rwanda, the unspeakably brutalmassacres of recent months have occurred againsta backdrop of soaring population growth, environ-mental degradation, and unequal distribution ofresources. Rwanda’s fertility rate is among thehighest in the world—over eight children perwoman. The nation’s once rich agricultural landis so severely depleted and degraded that between1980 and 1990, during a time of unprecedentedpopulation growth, food production fell by 20 per-cent (ECSP Report, 1995, 54).

Further, and more importantly:

In the newly configured world, national securityis closely linked to human security. Human secu-rity is built on a foundation of peace and politicalstability, physical health, and economic well-being….[W]e are coming to understand the closeconnections between poverty, the environment,the economy and security. This historic transfor-mation demands that we now liberate ourselves—from outworn policies, from old assumptions,from fixed views that only yesterday seemed tobe the dividing and defining lines of our politics(ECSP Report, 1995, 54).

Even as recently as April of 1996, Secretary of StateWarren Christopher noted that “We must not forget thehard lessons of Rwanda, where depleted resources andswollen populations exacerbated the political and eco-nomic pressures that exploded into one of this decade’sgreatest tragedies” (Christopher, 1996). The solutionsto these problems were to include multilateral diplo-matic initiatives, environmental conditionality appliedto aid packages, and comprehensive approaches tosustainable development (ECSP Report, 1995; 1996).

As outlined above, the Clinton Administration be-lieved environmental factors to be key to the conflictin Rwanda. Despite the new solution-sets outlined byadministration officials to counter the underlyingcauses of conflict, the Clinton Administration waitedand pursued the option of assisting a humanitarian pro-gram only once the conflict had sufficiently abated.Given the Clinton Administration’s understanding ofthe underlying causes of the conflict, was this supportfor the humanitarian program the most efficient use ofresources? Could resources have been brought to bearsooner?


Details of the tragedy in Rwanda are relativelywell-known and have been adequately documented

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elsewhere. This case study will highlight events fromthe crisis and focus on the Clinton Administration’s un-derstanding of the Rwandan crisis and its response toit. (See Figure 2)

Environmental variables (Ai) through (Aiii) are in-terrelated, with population growth and land degrada-tion contributing to declining agricultural production(Aii), and lead to the first of three intermediate socialeffects, population migration (Bi). Professor Homer-Dixon also notes that other effects included the weak-ening of the legitimacy of President JuvenalHabyarimana’s regime (Percival and Homer-Dixon,1996).

Note also that (Aiii) and (Bi) closely affected oneanother, as land degradation led to population migra-tion, which induced further land stress, contributingto another cycle of migration. Population migration,in turn, contributed to existing inter-group competi-tion (Bii) among the northern and southern Hutu andTutsi. The latest wave of this competition dated backto the 1990 invasion from Uganda of the mainly TutsiRwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). Fighting also contrib-uted to further population migration. This civil warplaced a great deal of institutional stress (Biii) on theHutu Habyarimana regime, which responded by form-ing the interahamwe (“those who attack together”) mi-litias to counter antigovernment sentiment among thepopulation.

After much of the fighting, and once a tentativecease-fire and peace negotiations were under way, ele-ments of the regime felt that President Habyarimanahad given too much away at the Arusha peace confer-ence signing in Tanzania. The accords would have ac-ceded too much northern Hutu power and control tothe rebel Tutsi and southern Hutu, and so to derail theArusha Accords, President Habyarimana was assassi-nated (HA). The hard-line elements within the north-ern Hutu regime then attempted a wholesale eradica-tion of the Tutsi minority (Ci), their “final solution” tothe Tutsi problem, resulting in the humanitarian crisis(Cii) to which the international community (IC), includ-ing the United States, finally responded.


Based on the eventual U.S. response to the humani-tarian crisis after the genocide in Rwanda, this case isbest categorized as falling under a military conceptionof environmental security. Geoffrey Dabelko describedmilitary conceptions of environmental security as re-quiring the least amount of discomfort to traditionalsecurity specialists. Further,

The referent object of security remains the state asit has been in the dominant, military-centered defi-nition (Buzan, 1991). As the object of what is to bemade secure, the state, and its military forces, re-main the primary actors when pursuing these con-


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Model Components•Ai—Population Growth•Aii—Declining food production•Aiii—Land degradation•Bi—Population migration•Bii—Inter-group Competition•Biii—Institutional stress, in this case, that ofthe ruling regime•HA—Habyarimana’s assassination•Ci—Organized civil conflict•Cii—Humanitarian emergency (Internallydisplaced persons and refugees)•IC—International Community Response

Figure 2


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ceptions of environmental security. Competitionand conflict are the modus operandi for this class ofenvironmental security conceptions as the actorsand institutions attempt to address the symptomsof “environmental scarcity”….By focusing on miti-gating the symptoms of environmental scarcity,this class of conceptions is primarily reactive toalready existing problems (Dabelko, 1996).

During this crisis, however, two views of environ-mental security were at play. High-level Clinton Ad-ministration officials held to a human security view-point, focusing on underlying causes, while it is likelythat U.S. military institutions found no compelling rea-sons to intervene from their military security viewpoint.

From a human security perspective, then, appro-priate intervention points could be identified amongfour temporal periods; pre-civil war, civil war, genocide,and refugee crisis. These intervention points are signifi-cantly modeled after some of the recommendationsmade in the Synthesis Report of the Joint Evaluation ofEmergency Assistance to Rwanda. These interventionpoints could have included the following:

Before the civil war

• more agricultural aid tied to sustainable develop-ment conditionality;• health and education funding to alleviate stressesfrom migration and population displacement;• general infrastructural aid to the government tiedto human rights conditionality;• urging the World Bank and IMF to take into ac-count potentially harmful social effects in their struc-tural adjustment program for Rwanda;

During the civil war

• taking leadership in stopping arms shipments tothe combatants in the civil war;• tying all aid to the Hutu Rwandan government tohuman rights conditionality;• committing to a strong multilateral and compre-hensive approach, incorporating the United Nations(UN), the Organization for African Unity (OAU), andlocal African states, to settling Hutu and Tutsi differ-ences;• coordinating and contributing to the financing,equipping and tasking of UNAMIR I to implement theArusha Accords;• more rapid and concerted initiatives following theassassination of President Habyarimana;

During the genocide

• organizing a multilateral coalition, incorporatingthe United Nations, the Organization for African Unity,and local African states, that would in no uncertainterms have told the Rwandan regime to cease their mas-sacre;

• expanding the support to, scope, and mandate ofUNAMIR II;

During the refugee crisis

• coordinating and contributing to the financing,equipping and tasking of a police force to separatemilitants from noncombatants in the camps;• providing more support to the new Tutsi Rwandangovernment to recover, rebuild, and prosecute crimi-nals, and also to repatriate refugees in Zaire.

When the United States did finally act, it was afterthe genocide was over, and as part of the humanitar-ian effort to assist the refugees, including retreatingHutu government forces and perpetrators of the geno-cide, that streamed into Zaire around July of 1994.From a military security standpoint, the crisis was notan appropriate subject until the solution-set fit a moretraditional mission profile of support to a humanitar-ian operation. The United States provided logisticalsupport to what was, on the whole, an impressive andeffective relief operation.


It is ironic that the very researcher whose ideas arequoted for Administration understanding of the crisisin Rwanda actually found that environmental factorsdid not play a significant role in the genocide. In a1995 Occasional Paper from the University of Torontotitled “Environmental Scarcity and Violent Conflict: TheCase of Rwanda,” researchers Valerie Percival and Tho-mas Homer-Dixon came to conclusions very muchapart from the Clinton Administration’s understand-ing of the series of events. Of four hypotheses withvarious environmental factors accorded varying de-grees of import, the most likely series of events entailedelite insecurity in the context of the Arusha Accords,where environmental factors played a minor role.Homer-Dixon and Percival concluded that:

The Rwanda case tells us important things aboutthe complexity of causal links between environ-mental scarcity and conflict. Scarcity did play arole in the recent violence in Rwanda, but givenits severity and impact on the population, the rolewas surprisingly limited. The role was also notwhat one would expect from a superficial analy-sis of the case. Although the levels of environ-mental scarcity were high and conflict occurred,the connection between these variables was me-diated by many other factors. This complexitymakes the precise role of environmental scarcitydifficult to determine….Although the recent vio-lence occurred in conditions of severe environmen-tal scarcity, because the Arusha Accords and re-gime insecurity were the key factors motivatingthe Hutu elite, environmental scarcity played a


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much more peripheral role (Percival and Homer-Dixon, 1995).

The fact that the Clinton Administration and theHomer-Dixon research team could come to oppositeconclusions regarding events in Rwanda is indicativeof what Richard Matthew has criticized as lack of ad-equate scientific understanding on the part of policymakers (Matthew, 1996, p. 41). Matthew suggests thatenthusiasm for “environmental security” be temperedby more clearly delineating and distinguishing between“environment and security,” that is, emphasizing thatthe environment contributes to security issues, not thatit should somehow supplant or redefine security (Mat-thew, forthcoming).


Was the application of United States military lo-gistical support for the international humanitarian ef-fort the best, most efficient use of security resources inRwanda?

From the human security standpoint of ClintonAdministration officials, no. Clearly more could havebeen done sooner. That more was not done implies avariety of factors at work—perhaps in keeping with abureaucratic politics understanding of the situation,U.S. military institutions successfully resisted attemptsto engage them in non-traditional military or supportenterprises. More likely, there was insufficient politi-cal will among members of the Administration to im-pose a solution-set evocative of similar circumstancesin Somalia. That more was not done even before thecivil war began is indicative of the cost-cutting trendin Congress for foreign aid appropriations.

From a military security standpoint, yes. Attempt-ing to apply force sooner would have entailed far higherrisks for the assets applied, coupled with a vague exithorizon. As it was, U.S. support to the internationalrelief effort in Rwanda reflected U.S. logistical exper-tise and military engineering skills.

Most important, as Homer-Dixon has underscoredin much of his writing, it is misleading to suggest asimple, direct relationship between environmental se-curity and conflict. However, environmental problemsare prominent features of the general context in whichconflict often occurs. Analysis and response need tobe fully cognizant of the difference between back-ground conditions and immediate causes.

The Clinton Administration must articulate moreclearly a national environmental security policy, oneto which it can steadfastly and sincerely commit, andcommunicate its resolution to the public and Congress.The Administration must reassess its aid program cut-backs and priorities, and realign them more in keepingwith this national environmental security policy. Itmust communicate and educate effectively membersof the Executive and the security community, so that

there is a clear and concerted effort in pursuit of thispolicy.


Clearly the Administration has indicated its inter-est in addressing the root causes of environmentalchange as much as possible. Sustainable development,and all that the term entails, is—rightly—the linchpinof the Clinton Administration’s multilateral approach.During this period of transition to an “earth in balance,”the traditional security community can play an impor-tant role. Specifically:

• The Clinton Administration must clearly articulateits vision of the interplay between the environment andsecurity, and throw the full weight of the Office of thePresident behind it. Kent Butts has a few excellentsuggestions for raising the national profile of the envi-ronment and security, even suggesting a PresidentialDecision Directive (PDD) as the most effective vehicle(Butts, 1996);

• In line with the first recommendation, the ClintonAdministration must educate policy makers, the Con-gress and the public about the key interrelationshipsbetween the environment and security, and justify theexpense of scarce resources more clearly. Educatingpolicy makers would enable them to more effectivelytask military and intelligence assets;

• Although employing National Technical Means(NTM)—basically, U.S. satellites and other remote sens-ing assets—can be somewhat problematic, the UnitedStates should nonetheless explore the feasibility of es-tablishing an interagency imagery and environmentaldata clearinghouse tasked with the timely dissemina-tion of environmental information to relevant and in-terested scientific and social institutions. In addition,the United States should fill any environmental datagaps with partially publicly funded commercial datagathering ventures, along the line of Mission to PlanetEarth;

• In emphasizing that the environment relates to se-curity, the Clinton Administration should ensure a thor-ough “greening” of the security community. Manyrecommendations have already been put forward, butone that is missing involves greening the service acad-emies. Each new crop of officers should be exposed toissues of the environment and security right from thebeginning;

• Finally, the United States must ensure that envi-ronmental experts are included in any international ne-gotiations, whether trade related (as in NAFTA), or inthe event of interstate or regional conflict resolution.


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Beardsley, T. “Environmental Secrets: Medea BringsIntelligence in from the Cold,” Scientific American 273:1(July 1995).

Berkowitz, Bruce D. and Allen E. Goodman. StrategicIntelligence for American National Security. Princeton, NJ:Princeton University Press, (3rd. ed.) 1991.

Binnendijk, Hans and Patrick Clawson. “New Strate-gic Priorities,” The Washington Quarterly, 18:2 (1995), pp.109-126.

Butts, Kent Hughes. Environmental Security: What isDOD’s Role? Carlisle, PA: Strategic Studies Institute U.S.Army War College, 1993. . Ed. Environmental Security: A DOD Partnership forPeace. Carlisle, PA: Strategic Studies Institute U.S. ArmyWar College, 1994a. . “Why the Military is Good for the Environment,”in Green Security or Militarized Environment. JyrkiKäkönen, ed. Brookfield: Dartmouth Publishing Co.,1994a (pp. 83-110).

Commission on Global Governance. Our Global Neigh-borhood. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.

Constantine, G. Theodore. “Environmental DefenseIntelligence,” Global Intelligence Issues, Defense Intelli-gence Agency (May 1993). . Intelligence Support to Humanitarian-Disaster ReliefOperations. Washington: Center for the Study of Intelli-gence, Central Intelligence Agency (1995).

Dabelko, Geoffrey. “Ideas and the Evolution of Envi-ronmental Security Conceptions.” Paper submitted tothe International Studies Association Annual Conven-tion, March 1996.

David, Steven R. “Why the Third World Still Matters,”International Security, 17:3 (Winter 1992/93), pp. 127-159.

Deibert, Ronald J. “Military Monitoring of the Envi-ronment,” The Environmental Change and Security ProjectReport 2 (Spring 1996), pp. 28-32.

Del Rosso, Jr., Stephen J. “The Insecure State: Reflec-tions on ‘the State’ and ‘Security’ in a Changing World,”Daedalus, 124:2 (Spring 1995), pp. 175-207.

Deudney, Daniel. “The Case Against Linking Environ-mental Degradation and National Security,” Millen-nium, 19:3 (1990), pp. 461-476. . “Environment and Security: MuddledThinking,”Bulletin of AtomicScientists,(April 1991),pp.23-28.

Dreyfuss, Robert. “Spying on the Environment,” EMagazine (January/February 1995), pp. 28-35.

Environment and Security: An Overview of Issues and Re-search Priorities for Canada. Canadian Global ChangeProgram Technical Report No. 961 by the ResearchPanel on Environment and Security of the CanadianGlobal Change Program, Royal Society of Canada, 1996.

“Fact Sheet: Global Environmental Issues,” U.S. Depart-ment of State Dispatch, 6:SUPP-4 (July 1995), pp. 25-29.

Feshbach, Murray. Ecological Disaster: Cleaning Up theHidden Legacy of the Soviet Regime. New York: The Twen-tieth Century Fund Press, 1995.

Fleischman, Rachel. “Environmental Security: Conceptand Practice,” National Security Studies Quarterly 1:2(1995).

Frye, Alton. “How to ‘Spy’ on the Environment,” TheWashington Post (May 3): p. C4.

Galtung, Johan. Environment, Development and MilitaryActivity: Towards Alternative Security Doctrines. (Oslo:Universitatsforlaget) New York: Columbia UniversityPress, 1982.

Gleick, Peter H. “Environment and Security: The ClearConnection,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (April1991), pp. 17-21.

Greenhouse, Steven. “The Greening of U.S. Diplomacy:Focus on Ecology,” The New York Times, 10-09-95, p. A6.

Haas, Peter M., Robert O. Keohane and Marc A. Levy.Institutions for the Earth: Sources of Effective Environmen-tal Protection. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1995.

Homer-Dixon, Thomas F. “On the Threshold: Environ-mental Changes as Causes of Acute Conflict,” Interna-tional Security 16 (Fall 1991), pp. 76-116. . “Environmental Scarcities and Violent Conflict:Evidence from Cases,” International Security 19:1 (1994),pp. 5-40. . “Strategies for Studying Causation in ComplexEcological Political Systems.” Paper of the Project onEnvironment, Population and Security. American As-sociation for the Advancement of Science and Peaceand Conflict Studies, University College University ofToronto (June 1995).

Imber, Mark F. Environment, Security and UN Reform.New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994.

Joint Evaluation of Emergency Assistance to Rwanda.The International Response to Conflict and Genocide: Les-sons from the Rwanda Experience—Synthesis Report, 1995.


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Jervis, Robert. “The Future of World Politics: Will ItResemble the Past?” International Security, 16:3 (Winter1991/92), pp. 39-73.

Kaplan, Robert. “The Coming Anarchy.” The AtlanticMonthly 273 (February 1994), pp. 44-76.

Levy, Marc A. “Is the Environment a National SecurityIssue?” International Security, 20:2 (Fall 1995), pp. 35-63.

Mathews, Jessica Tuchman. “Redefining Security,” For-eign Affairs, 68 (Spring 1989), pp. 162-177.

Matthew, Richard. “Rethinking Environmental Secu-rity,” in N. P. Gledistch, ed., Conflict and the Environ-ment (forthcoming). . “The Greening of U.S. Foreign Policy,” Issues inScience and Technology 13:1 (Fall 1996), pp. 39-47. . “Environmental Security: Demystifying the Con-cept, Clarifying the Stakes,” The Environmental Changeand Security Project Report 1 Washington: WoodrowWilson International Center for Scholars (Spring 1995),pp. 14-23.

Myers, Norman. “Environment and Security,” ForeignPolicy, 74 (Spring 1989), pp. 23-41.

Nacht, Alexander. “U.S. Foreign Policy Strategies,” TheWashington Quarterly, 18:3 (1995), pp. 195-210.

“Official Statements and Documents,” The Environmen-tal Change and Security Project Report 1 Washington:Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars(Spring 1995), pp. 47-58.

“Official Statements and Documents,” The Environmen-tal Change and Security Project Report 2 Washington:Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars(Spring 1996), pp. 72-88.

Percival, Valerie and Thomas F. Homer-Dixon. “Envi-ronmental Scarcity and Violent Conflict: The Case ofRwanda.” Paper of the Project on Environment, Popu-lation and Security. American Association for the Ad-vancement of Science and Peace and Conflict Studies,University College University of Toronto (June 1995).

Porter, Gareth. “Environmental Security as a NationalSecurity Issue,” Current History, 94:592 (May 1995), pp.218-222.

Rothschild, Emma. “What Is Security?” Daedalus, 124:3(Summer 1995), pp. 53-98.

Soroos, Marvin S. “Environmental Security: Choices forthe Twenty-First Century,” National Forum, 75:1 (Win-ter 1995), pp. 20-25.

“Swords into Sensors,” The Economist (January 29, 1994),pp. 85-86.

Ullman, Richard H. “Redefining Security,” InternationalSecurity, 8:1 (Summer 1983), pp. 129-178.

Wirth, Timothy E. “The Human Factor: National Secu-rity and Sustainable Development,” Sierra, 80:5 (Sept-Oct 1995), pp. 76-80.

Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. TheEnvironmental Change and Security Project Report 1(Spring 1995). . The Environmental Change and Security Project Re-port 2 (Spring 1996).

Zakheim, Dov S. and Jeffrey M. Ranney. “MatchingDefense Strategies to Resources: Challenges for theClinton Administration,” International Security, 18:1(Summer 1993), pp. 51-78.


1 U.S. military bases face monumental cleanup costs,a legacy of the belief that environmental issues neededto take a back seat to earnest prosecution of the ColdWar. Also, most recently, Saddam Hussein set the oilfields of Kuwait afire in an attempt to divert U.S.-ledcoalition resources away from continuing battle againstthe Iraqi leader’s forces.2 The group Earth First characterizes this viewpoint,as evidenced in their (revised) motto, “no compromisein defense of Mother Earth.”3 As mankind pushes into previously remote or inac-cessible terrain, “new” deadly diseases are discovered,with a serious potential for introduction into the widerpopulation via the planet’s well-established air trans-portation network.4 It is interesting to note that the United States mili-tary has not taken this same mandate to heart over-seas. Many international bases remain terribly polluted,and do not adhere to domestic U.S. environmentalguidelines.5 The number of near “compromises” to nuclear ma-terials security demonstrate this fact. Please refer to theUSAWC briefing in the bibliography.6 See Robert Kaplan, “The Coming Anarchy,” The At-lantic Monthly (February 1994): 45-76.


Water Scarcity in River Basinsas a Security Problem

Task Force: Sophie Chou (Team Leader), Ross Bezark, and Anne Wilson

By 2025, chronic water scarcity will affect as many as three billion people in 52 countries. It is a pressingissue that demands the committed attention of governments of water-scarce nations and of regional and inter-national institutions. In spite of numerous calls for decisive and collective action, however, water scarcity isworsening on a global scale. Demand for water is growing along with populations and economies, while sourcesof water are being rapidly degraded and depleted. Inequalities in the distribution of water supplies also areincreasing, exacerbated by poor water management. In consequence, human welfare, ecological health andeconomic potential suffer. Under certain conditions, water scarcity threatens national security. This reportexamines the role of water scarcity in shared river basins in triggering, intensifying and generating regionalinstability and other security problems.

Three case studies have been selected to illustrate how various factors interact with water scarcity to threatennational and regional security. In the Jordan River Basin conflict has resulted from water scarcity combinedwith certain catalytic conditions. A lack of cooperation sustained by historical tensions could prove to be detri-mental to regional and even global welfare. In the Nile River Basin, water scarcity exists, but conditions havenot yet brought it to the level of conflict present in the Jordan River Basin. The nine countries in this basin,however, have been stalemated by political inertia, although there have been some recent indications of a grow-ing interest in pursuing cooperative solutions to water problems. The Mekong River best exemplifies thepotential for both conflict and cooperation in a shared river basin. Water-sharing mechanisms exist; the ques-tion is whether they can defuse the tensions posed by water scarcity.

The importance of this issue is hard to understate. Water is a vital resource upon which all organismsdirectly depend. River basins have been referred to as “cradles of human civilization,” sustaining productive,prosperous societies throughout human history. As these vital areas have been stressed by pollution and grow-ing human demands, the world has witnessed growing competition and conflict over their water. So serious isthe problem that the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development has initiated a global freshwaterassessment; it is currently underway and a report will be submitted to the U.N. General Assembly later in 1997.


Water is essential for human and ecological health. It is vital for nutrition, food production, sanitation, andeconomic production. It is used for recreation, power generation and transportation, and embodies symbolicand cultural value. Water is a vital component of ecosystems, contributing to climate control and the hydrologiccycle. These processes profoundly affect the characteristics of the natural world of which human beings are apart.

As a natural resource, water has unique characteristics. From a global perspective, it is renewable andabundant; in regional settings, however, it is often finite, poorly distributed, and subject to the control of onenation or group. It is difficult to redistribute economically and has no substitutes. River flows in particular areuneven over time and poorly matched to human needs.

Reliable access to water supplies has long been a human concern because deprivation can cause illness,death and economic hardship. Yet given that water covers over 70 percent of the Earth’s surface, scarcity mightappear to be a low priority issue. The ostensible abundance of water is misleading. Fresh water comprises only2.5 percent of the Earth’s total water supply. Of this, 79 percent is locked in ice caps and glaciers. Groundwatercomprises 20 percent; this leaves only one percent as easily accessible. Thus, only 0.000008 percent of the Earth’swater is readily accessible for basic human use.

Historically, human welfare and progress have been closely associated with access to this small fraction ofthe world’s total supply of water. Today, changes in the factors that determine water scarcity and in the manner


in which scarcity is being handled ensure that the fa-miliar problem of reliable access persists. Addressingthis problem requires new approaches to managingwater-scarce situations so that threats to internationalsecurity are minimized. As world population skyrock-ets and increasing numbers pursue material wealth,high quality accessible water is likely to be the subjectof competition and conflict. Unfortunately, simple so-lutions may not be adequate to address contemporarywater scarcity conditions. Water scarcity problems arecomplex, subject to competing interests, and often en-trenched along sensitive ethnic, religious, or social classdivisions. They exacerbate interclass or interstate ten-sions where they exist, and create new tensions wherepreviously there were none.

Water disputes are currently proliferating in sev-eral arenas, from oceans to lakes to rivers basins. Deg-radation of oceans and lakes has severely damagedmarine ecosystems, eliminating or diminishing numer-ous fish species and igniting hostilities between coun-tries vying for the declining fish stocks. The shrinkingof the Aral Sea in central Asia has attracted worldwideattention for having depleted, diverted, and poisonedthe maritime ecosystem, but it is only one example ofwater depletion due to human diversion and contami-nation. The relationship between water scarcity andregional security, however, is most transparent in thecases of rivers shared by multiple countries. Nearly 40percent of the world’s population rely on shared riverbasins; this percentage jumps to 50 in northeast Africaand the Middle East. Rivers flow across politicalboundaries, usually giving upstream countries a dis-tinct advantage over downstream neighbors. As ris-ing demands strain river water supplies, internationalfriction intensifies.


In discussing the causes of water scarcity and howit may become a security issue, it is necessary to elabo-rate upon what is meant by “scarcity” and “security.”Quantitative definitions of scarcity range from less thanfive to seven liters per person per day (the amount re-quired to sustain a human being) to less than 2,740 li-ters per person per day (based on the average amountrequired to sustain a Western standard of living). Anumber of specialists describe a state as “water-stressed”if renewable runoff per person is less than 1,700 cubicmeters annually, and “water-scarce” if renewable run-off is below 1,000 cubic meters per person annually.But given the diversity of agricultural and industrialpractices and expectations throughout the world, it isnot especially useful to assign a specific value to waterscarcity. We argue that water scarcity exists when de-mand (which varies considerably) exceeds supply. Itis resolved by establishing a balance between supplyand demand.

We define a security threat as a threat to the valuesin the defense of which a country will use violence.These values include sovereignty, territory, publichealth, economic prosperity, and cultural identity. Situ-ations that potentially or actually threaten such valuesare considered threats to security. It is important tonote, however, that while security problems have thepotential to lead to violence, they may also act as astimulus for cooperation.

Variables that Cause Water ScarcityThere are three categories of variables that cause

water scarcity: increased demand, decreased supply,and impeded access to available supplies. (Homer-Dixon, 1994)

Increased demand generally results from popula-tion growth, economic growth, and/or poor water re-source management. There are 95 million peopleadded to the planet each year, increasing the demandfor water; throughout the world economic growth is atop priority; and all too often poor water managementadds inefficiency to the other pressures for more wa-ter. Per capita use today is almost 50 percent higherthan it was in 1950, and in most of the world it contin-ues to rise (Dimension of Need: An Atlas of Food and Agri-culture, p. 43).

Decreased supply is caused by the pollution, di-version, and depletion of water. Pollution degradeswater quality, often so much that it is unsafe to drink,use for hygiene and sanitation, or use for fishing, agri-cultural and even at times industrial purposes. Waterpollution can decrease the amount of employable wa-ter by means of domestic waste, industry, and agricul-tural runoff. This is particularly true in developedcountries; in Poland, for example, the share of riverwater of drinking quality has dropped from 32 percentto five percent during the last two decades, and aroundthree quarters of Poland’s river water is now too con-taminated for even industrial use (Postel, p. 21, 1992).Diversion occurs in river systems when an upstreamwater user alters the flow such that downstream usersreceive a diminished volume of water. Depletion oc-curs when ground water is pumped to the surface at arate that is too quick to be replenished. Ground waterand aquifers are recharged and purified through per-colation of precipitation through layers of soil and rock;because the hydrological cycle takes a long time to com-plete, based on a human time frame, severe depletionof groundwater means not only a diminished supply,but also an unclean supply. Severe depletion can alsopermanently abate natural water storage capacity, fur-ther jeopardizing the amount of water available forhuman use.

Unequal access to available supplies causes theunfortunate conditions of water scarcity only for cer-tain portions of the population, regardless of the ag-gregate availability of water. This is the case in many

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places, and the inequality can be due to natural irregu-larities in precipitation, seasonal river flows, or humanactivities.

If the access problem is due to natural causes, catch-ing and storing water when it is available is a criticalfactor in determining how much human suffering anddamage will result from scarcity. If the problem is hu-man-induced, access to water supplies is usually tiedto political and economic power. In this situation thepoor and marginalized subsidize the water use of thosewho have access to power. Thus, unequal access fre-quently creates water scarcity even in places whereoverall water scarcity may not exist.

Variables that Affect the Stability of Institutional StructuresThe consequences of water scarcity can be severe.

Populations can be displaced, as people migrate insearch of water and new livelihood, or even as a resultof attempts to remedy the scarcity situation, such asthe construction of dams, the flooding of reservoirs,and the diversion of rivers from their natural river beds.As water scarcity causes water to be more highly val-ued, water prices increase and controlling water sup-plies becomes increasingly lucrative and may exacer-bate existing forms of competition based on ethnic or

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other social divisions. As a fundamental componentof the natural resource base which supports agricul-tural and industrial activities, production and growthare likely to be threatened. Finally, institutions areweakened as the various burdens placed on them in-crease; in the mose severe caes they may fail or resortto violence.

The Link to SecurityWater scarcity poses a clear threat to internal or

domestic security by contributing to health problems,civil strife, economic crises and institutional failures.Water scarcity may expand into the international realm,however, if certain conditions exist. The extent to whicha river is shared by more than one country, disparaterelative strengths of the countries sharing the watersource, and the lack of equitable water-sharing agree-ments among all water users can catalyze a situationof water scarcity into one of regional insecurity. More-over, water scarcity may amplify conventional inter-national security problems related to militarization,weak institutions and ethnic and other sources of hos-tility and tension. Conceivably, the forces that preventcountries from resorting to violence to protect their in-terests and core values may be overwhelmed.

Model 1



Water in the Jordan River Basin is a limited resourcewhose scarcity has been a contributing factor to con-flict between states in the past. The Jordan River Basinstates are Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the Occu-pied Territories. The upper Jordan is fed by three ma-jor springs: the Hasbani in Lebanon, the Banias in Syria,and the Dan in Israel. The major tributary of the Jor-dan, the Yarmuk River, originates in Syria and Jordanand constitutes part of the border between these coun-tries and the Golan Heights before flowing into the Jor-dan River. The quality of Jordan River water is goodup to the point where it enters the Sea of Galilee but bythe time it arrives into the Dead Sea, the water has be-come too salty to use (Gleick, 1995, p. 9).

The surface and hydrological formations in theMiddle East are nonhomogeneous discontinuous,meaning some sections of the region are dependentupon others for water supply (Ghezawi, 1994, p. 3).Those nations geographically situated upriver aregradually diverting more water from shared water re-sources in the Jordan River Basin for themselves, de-creasing the available water for downstream users,while region-wide demands are swelling. Therefore,the control and allocation of water has evolved into anissue of high politics with global consequences and ithas been explicitly made a part of the ongoing bilat-eral and multilateral peace negotiations (Gleick, 1995,p. 99).

Complicating the problem of water scarcity, theJordan River is historically and culturally important tothe region and the world, as some of the most ancientcivilizations of the earth formed and grew around theriver basin. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam considerthe Jordan holy and it plays a role in national ideologi-cal objectives, such as settling border areas and popu-lation distribution, fanning ancient rivalries and dis-putes.

Since the establishment of Israel in 1948, interstatedisputes over the Jordan River and its related groundwater basins have played a role in ensuing violence inthe area. In the 1960s, for example, the Arab Leagueattempted to divert the waters of the Jordan River intoJordan, preventing the waters from entering Israel.Water-related tensions between Israel, Jordan and Syriacontributed to the atmosphere which led to the 1967war.

Problems continue over the control of water re-sources in the region and have begun to deteriorate atan even more rapid pace, due to the almost completeexploitation of local resources. Palestinians on the WestBank and Gaza Strip compete with Israelis for dwin-dling groundwater supplies. Much of the water sup-plying northern and central Israel comes from aqui-fers that originate on the West Bank and drain west-

ward towards the Mediterranean Sea (Brown, 1993, p.130). Overpumping of the aquifer underlying the GazaStrip has caused sea water to intrude and partially con-taminate this source. As extraction from ground andsurface water continues to increase, so do problems as-sociated with low water levels, decreased quality, over-flowing waste, and contamination from pesticides andfertilizers. Negotiations over water rights betweenPalestinians and Israelis were postponed in 1995, alongwith the issues of Jerusalem and Jewish settlements,indicating how important the subject of water is to theregion and the diametrically opposed positions heldby each side (Gleick, 1995, p. 8).

Though it may seem as such, this is not only anArab-Israeli phenomenon. Tensions also exist betweenSyria and Jordan over the construction and operationof a number of Syrian dams on the Yarmuk River, whichwould allow Syria to regulate the Yarmuk’s flow, whichfeeds the Jordan (Gleick, 1995, p. 11). If Syria acts ag-gressively to combat its own water shortages, violentconflict between the two states is possible.

Estimates suggest that fresh water deficits are in-creasing rapidly in the region and that if current waterpolicies continue unchanged, the nations of the JordanRiver Basin may begin to “experience acute and pro-gressively worsening perennial water shortages andquality degradation analogous to the areas running outof renewable sources of fresh water within the nextdecade” (Naff, 1993, p. 116). Rapid population growthin the region, caused by elevated birth rates, reducedinfant mortality rates, improved access to health care,and increased rates of immigration will place evengreater burdens on all of the nations that utilize thewater supply of the Jordan River Basin. Along withthis population explosion, increased rates of urbaniza-tion and the growing demands of the agriculture andindustrial sectors of these economies are placing fur-ther pressure on existing water reserves.

The United States, as the main mediator in Arab-Israeli negotiations, has an interest in assisting the par-ties to manage regional water scarcity obstacles becauseany factor which could derail the progress of the peaceprocess would hinder the prospects of a lasting peaceaccord and perhaps damage U.S. prestige worldwide.Miriam Lowi, a professor at the College of New Jersey,argues that solving problems of water scarcity in theJordan Basin are “specific to the task and cannot beviewed as an avenue towards political settlement”(Lowi, 1993, p. 204). But unless the issues involvingwater scarcity, especially those between Israelis andPalestinians, are rectified in some manner, which willonly occur in the foreseeable future with the assistanceof the United States, the chances of resolving politicalproblems in the region will be restricted. This is in partbecause of the high priority given to Palestinian prob-lems in the negotiations and in part because the di-lemma of water in the West Bank is integral to the dif-

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ficulties of the Jordan River Basin as a whole (Gleick,1995, p. 101).

While unilateral steps will assist in improving wa-ter management, cooperative efforts will be the oneswhich bring lasting success to the Jordan River ValleyBasin. As the former Agriculture Minister of Israel,Meir Ben-Meir, said, “If the people of the region arenot clever enough to discuss a mutual solution to theproblem of water scarcity, war is unavoidable” (Brown,1993, p. 128).


It is not unreasonable to assume that the world’slongest river would offer the inhabitants of its banksan abundant and unlimited water resource. For mil-lennia this has been the case in the Nile River basin. Inthe past several decades, however, this basin has suf-fered from enormous pressure from increased demandand reduction in supply. Not only does this pose adirect threat to the health of the humans and wildlifewho depend on it for water, but it also poses the indi-rect threat of strained relations among the nine nationsof varied levels of development that lie on the river’sbanks. This is no esoteric, whimsical notion; in 1989Boutros Boutros-Ghali (then Egypt’s Minister of Statefor Foreign Affairs) addressed the U.S. Congress andmaintained that “The next war in our region will beover the waters of the Nile, not politics” (Gleick, 1994,p. 14).

Although the Nile passes through a multiplicity ofnations (Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Zaire, Kenya,Uganda, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt), only two of thesecooperate in its management: Egypt and Sudan, a re-sult of the 1959 Nile Waters Agreement which allottedeach a certain amount of water per year. The Nile hastwo sources. The Blue Nile originates in the Ethiopianhighlands and meets the White Nile (the headwatersof which is Lake Victoria in Tanzania) at Khartoum,Sudan. The White Nile has actually demonstrated anincrease in flows over the past 60 years, and thus theimmediate problem is limited to Egypt, Sudan, andEthiopia. The difficulty lies in the fact that, the 1959Agreement notwithstanding, these nations, which dem-onstrate a wide range of development levels, have his-torically relied on a local approach to water allocationas opposed to a concerted, basin-wide approach. Thelocal approach, however, does not take into consider-ation the other users of the waters, as witnessed in thecase of Egypt’s construction of the Aswan High Damin the late 1950s. This type of approach caused no seri-ous difficulties until this century, but recent develop-ments that increase demand and reduce supply havedeemed this an unsustainable method of allocating re-sources.

One of these recent developments is population

growth; Egypt’s population is growing by another mil-lion every nine months. Despite famine and civil warsin Sudan and Ethiopia, their populations have grownsteadily since 1960. This growth has increased and willcontinue to increase water demand for human and live-stock consumption and for industrial and agriculturalactivities. Since there is a finite amount of water, thisposes a serious problem.

In addition to the demand pressure caused frompopulation growth, economic growth (or in the case ofSudan and Ethiopia, the desire for economic growth)presents another strain, as industry usually requiresextensive amounts of water. Thus, the problem is two-fold; for Egypt, which is relatively industrialized, adecrease in flow due to elevated upstream consump-tion establishes constraints on economic options. Coun-tries such as Sudan that strive for economic strengthwill vastly increase their consumption of water as elec-tric power generation and manufacturing materialize.Another ominous strain is Egypt’s intent to reclaimdesert land for agriculture in order to reduce its de-pendence on imports for food; this would substantiallyincrease its demand for water supplies. Taking intoconsideration the projected growth in population andits current per capita water use, Egypt’s total waterdemand in 20 years will exceed its allotted share byalmost 60 percent (Postel, 1992, p. 188).

To make matters worse, the actual supply is beingreduced. Water is of no use to a thirsty person if it ispolluted; degradation, as much as if the water simplydisappeared, therefore decreases the available supply.In Egypt, for example, 117 factories dump their waste-water directly into the Nile (Postel, 1996, p. 143). Egyptis the last in line for the Nile and thus currently suffersfrom only self-inflicted injury. However, as the up-stream countries nurture their interest in economicgrowth, they may be tempted to subsidize industrialwater use, which would render degradation of the up-stream waters (and thus further degradation of Egyp-tian water) inevitable.

In addition, a potential usurper of supply is globalwarming. It is almost impossible to predict exactlywhere changes resulting from this development will takeplace, but it is certain that where less rainfall is the out-come, periods of shortages may result if they are at ornear water supply limits. With the inevitable increasein potential and actual evaporation that would resultfrom higher surface air temperatures, the best guessfor greenhouse-induced change in Nile flows wouldbe a reduction in Blue Nile flows and constant orslightly increased White Nile flows (Howell and Allan,1994, p. 159). Thus the current situation would only beaggravated.

As our general model suggests, each of these fac-tors that are bringing about scarcity are affecting andwill continue to affect security in the Nile basin. Thedecreasing supply of Nile waters in conjunction with

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an unlimited demand poses several types of securityissues: those on the human, individual scale; the secu-rity of the ecosystem itself; and the security of nations.Clearly, the first two security issues are the most im-mediate and tangible. Along with the obvious conse-quences (dehydration, disease, and hunger) that resultfrom water scarcity, unemployment and other factorsthat negatively affect the economy could threaten thesecurity of the lives of Nile basin inhabitants. Also,although ostensibly not of much immediate interest tothe countries involved, water scarcity in the Nile basinand unnatural attempts to alleviate it could have seri-ous detrimental ramifications on the ecosystems andconsequentially on the inhabitants of the region, as in-tact ecosystems play a vital role as water purificationsystems.

The indirect threat of international insecurity is,however, the most sweeping. If current circumstancespersist, Egypt and Sudan will experience a severe defi-cit in water resources by the year 2010. The seven“lesser” countries have expressed a desire to increasetheir use of the river water source. Such an occurrence,especially by Ethiopia, could reduce water available tothe downstream nations and significantly increase ten-sions. Mutual fear proliferates; although the Ethiopi-ans understandably fear that Egypt could resort to vio-lence, Egypt has little control over the water-relatedactions of the eight upstream governments. It may nothave been an exaggeration when Boutros-Ghali de-clared that “The national security of Egypt is in thehands of the eight other African countries in the Nilebasin” (Postel, 1996, p. 73). Despite the existence ofseveral cooperative opportunities, policy-makers canexpect the risk of conflict among the countries to grow.Egypt, though more developed in almost every aspect,is extremely vulnerable to water withdrawal by up-stream countries and will be vigilant and apprehen-sive as she warily watches the growth spurts of herneighbors.

Several possibilities exist to mitigate scarcity andtherefore the threats posed to the security of the Nilecountries and their inhabitants. They fall under threeprincipal approaches: increasing the supply of water(through purification and other projects and by con-trolling pollution); decreasing the pressures of demandfor water by reducing population and eradicatingwasteful use domestically and agriculturally; and for-mulating cooperative water management agreements.There is widespread support for emphasizing coopera-tion and reducing demand and contamination ratherthan searching for new supplies in this basin. Sincemost of the solutions dealing with demand and coop-eration are similar for all river basins, they will be dis-cussed in the “Policy Recommendations” section of thisreport. States depending on the Nile River basin,plagued with political inertia, need to be particularlyconcerned with sitting at the table and conducting co-

operative, basin-wide negotiation; only after doing thiscan discussion of an overhaul of policy and of newprojects begin. There currently exists a stalemate asEgypt refuses to renegotiate its 1959 Agreement allo-cation and as Ethiopia refuses to sit at the table as longas it is excluded from new allocation agreements. Auseful actor could be the international community inthe form of aid and technological assistance to Ethio-pia to give it an edge. All things considered, it is es-sential that these countries realize that one’s gain doesnot necessitate another’s loss; otherwise, this malignantsuspicion will protract the lack of coordination that inthe long run just may well prove to be disastrous aswater scarcity and its consequent security troubles con-tinue to be exacerbated.


The Mekong River basin is a water scarce regionwhere increasing competition for water threatens SouthEast Asian security. The Greater Mekong Sub-regioncovers 2.3 million square kilometers, is home to 325million people, and is Asia’s southwest growth region.52 million people, mostly small-scale farmers andfishermen, are directly sustained by the river. At 4,800kilometers in length, the Mekong is the world’s 12thlongest river, flowing through the Yunnan Province ofChina, Myanmar, Laos, northeastern Thailand, Cam-bodia, and southern Vietnam. The Mekong providesthe natural resource base for agriculture, fishing, trans-portation, economic development, and ecological sys-tems maintenance. As a freshwater ecosystem, virtu-ally every human action is eventually reflected in thefunctions of the Mekong River (Abramovitz, 1996, p.10).

Potential for development along the Mekong isgreat but the river’s turbulent annual flood-droughtcycle renders harnessing its waters for human purposesexpensive and problematic. The diverse interests andneeds of the countries in the Mekong Basin have thepotential to create and exacerbate existing intraregionaltensions. Conflicts of interest are developing over useof the river. Mekong development is thus an opportu-nity for conflict as well as for cooperation. The diverseneeds and interests in river development representedby riparian nations, the political relationships amongthe Mekong countries, and the ability of the Mekongto meet the current and projected demands for its ser-vices are all uncertain.

What is certain is that the Mekong is being usedunsustainably. It cannot supply the water demandedby human users and the ecological functions it pro-vides. Declining productivity in fisheries, the intru-sion of salt water into previously fresh surface waterand groundwater, the recession of fertile coastal deltasdue to the reduced ability of lower water volumes to

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flush sediment into the sea, and the declining diver-sity of wildlife species all indicate that water resourcesare overexploited and stressed in the Mekong Riverbasin. The region displays many of the characteristicsthat indicate or lead to water scarcity.

Population growth rates in the Mekong basin arehigh. In the lower Mekong countries, the annualgrowth rate averages 2.29 percent (Environmental Al-manac, 1994). This means that the regional populationincreases by 2,550,870 people per year in the lowerMekong basin alone.

The rate of economic growth in the lower Mekongcountries is also high. In 1995, GDP grew at an aver-age rate of 8.18 percent. Average growth in the indus-trial sector in the lower Mekong countries averaged11.75 percent Asian Development Outlook 1996 and1997). With the economic expansion of the economiesof the lower Mekong countries, water pollution in-creases and higher per capita consumption rates con-tribute to water scarcity through increased demand. Inaddition, rates of access to safe water supplies in thelower Mekong region, excluding Cambodia, range from47 to 67 percent in urban areas and 25 to 85 percent inrural areas. Including China and Myanmar, these fig-ures range from 47 to 87 percent in urban areas andremain unchanged in rural areas (Environmental Al-manac, 1994). Segments of populations in both urbanand rural areas of the Mekong basin are water scarcedue to lack of access to existing supplies.

Water scarcity and its adverse impact on the people,economies and ecology of the Mekong River basin havethe potential to generate or exacerbate an internationalsecurity issue. This possibility amplifies existing po-litical and ethnic tensions and weakens institutions thatmitigate the negative impacts of water scarcity on so-cial, political, and economic systems. Of vital concerntoday are proposed dam, reservoir, and irrigation de-velopment projects which threaten the per capita shareof safe drinking water. Lack of access to safe water isdestabilizing through its weakening of the productiv-ity of the labor force through mortality and morbidity.Centuries old political and ethnic tensions in theMekong basin may be exacerbated by increased com-petition for scarce water and by increasing inequalityin distribution and access of water. The inevitablepopulation displacements that will result from the pro-jected infrastructure projects will further exacerbatethese tensions as thousands of people are simulta-neously evicted from their homes. Institutional weak-ening may plague governments, NGOs, regional andinternational development organizations, disaster re-lief agencies, and even the Mekong Committee.

From the perspective of water scarcity, the MekongRiver basin is a danger zone. Mekong River develop-ment is imminent. Countries in the region are ap-proaching an important decision point. In order to pre-vent an international security issue over water scarcity

in the Mekong River basin, policies to govern Mekongdevelopment must be formulated that promote efficienttechnology, especially for agricultural and industrialuses, to enable efficient use of water; protect ecologicaland human health; and strengthen existing water re-gimes.

Decisive, proactive action is necessary in order toprevent water scarcity from developing into an inter-national security issue. Policies focused on the causesof water scarcity and causes of insecurity will preventinstability and violence in the region and enable theregion to reap tangible and long-term benefits. Pre-vention is effective and cost-effective relative to retro-active, crisis-driven reactions. Preventive policiesgrounded in human and ecological needs reflect thevision and leadership demanded for future regionaland international peace and prosperity.


Given the importance of the particular context inwhich water scarcity becomes a threat to internationalsecurity, this report recommends that policies considerthe particular physical, geopolitical, and cultural con-ditions of each case. Thus, this report emphasizes acase-by-case approach in policy-formation. Policy rec-ommendations fall under five umbrella categories:promoting education, improving living conditions,protecting human and ecological health, allocating suf-ficient resources to address water scarcity, and build-ing international water regimes.

EducationFirst and foremost, education should encourage the

use of more efficient technology and improved resourcemanagement suited to the particular conditions of eachcase. Determining and implementing efficiency stan-dards can be achieved through information-sharing andtechnology transfers. Policy-makers should supporttechnology transfers as well as the research and devel-opment of new technologies. Focus should be on agri-cultural improvements, as the sheer volume ofagriculture’s share of water render this area one inwhich the most benefits can be reaped per technologi-cal innovation.

Improvement in Living ConditionsImproving living conditions in the affected areas

must be a policy goal. It can be achieved in part bypreventing the human suffering that results from popu-lation displacement and the marginalization of poorpeople. Because living standards rise with increasingincomes in the long run, sustainable economic devel-opment must be encouraged. Wasteful, short-term eco-nomic gains should be regarded as future threats tohuman well-being and thus discontinued.

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Human and Environmental HealthPolicy must protect human and ecological health.

Inadequate drinking water supplies and poor sanita-tion facilities can have devastating impacts on mortal-ity, morbidity, and the economy. A healthy populationcontributes to the productivity of a country, whichstrengthens societal institutions and promotes stabil-ity. Robust institutions are more effective in withstand-ing stresses when they occur. Ecological health, asidefrom its inherent importance, must be maintained sinceit forms the natural resource base upon which humanand economic well-being depend.

Allocation of Sufficient ResourcesPolicy-makers, both local and international, must

commit the resources necessary to collectively correctthis urgent state of affairs. Informal promises will onlyexacerbate the problem as the causes of water scarcityworsen.

Creation of Effective International Water RegimesBasin-wide water regimes must be designed so that

all stakeholders have the opportunity and are givenan incentive to contribute to effective water allocationagreements. All stakeholders should be obliged to par-ticipate and comply with agreements.

The problem of water scarcity will be resolved; thequestion is how? By acting collectively and decisively,humans relying on shared water basins can ensure theircontinued well-being and development. By acting uni-laterally and indecisively, the probability of a militarysolution increases.



Abramovitz, Janet N. “Imperiled Waters, ImpoverishedFuture: The Decline of Freshwater Ecosystems.”Worldwatch Paper 128, March 1996.

Asano, Takashi. “Reusing Urban Wastewater—an Al-ternative and a Reliable Water Resource.” Water Re-sources Journal (Sept. 1994).

Barghouti, Shawki, ed. Country Experiences with WaterResource Management. Washington, D.C.: The WorldBank, 1992.

Barghouti, Shawki, and Guy LeMoigne, “Irrigation andthe Environmental Challenge.” Finance and Develop-ment. June 1991.

Cairncross, Frances. “Environmental Pragmatism.”Foreign Policy. Summer 1994, 35-52.

Carroll, Raymond. “Water: A Dangerous Endangered

Resource?” Great Decisions 1996.

Cuong, Nguyen Kim. “Protection Against Groundwa-ter Contamination.” Water Resources Journal 188 (March1996): 82-85.

Deudney, Daniel. “The Case Against Linking Environ-mental Degradation and National Security.” Millen-nium: Journal of International Studies. Winter 1990, 461 -476.

Dimensions of Need: An Atlas of Food and Agriculture.Rome, Italy: Food and Agriculture Organization of theUnited Nations, 1995.

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Feder, Gershon and Guy LeMoigne, “Managing Waterin a Sustainable Manner.” Finance and Development. June1994.

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Gleick, Peter. “Water and Conflict.” International Secu-rity 18.1 (Summer 1993): 79-112._____. “Water, War, and Peace in the Middle East.” En-vironment vol. 36, no. 3 (April, 1994).

Homer-Dixon, Thomas F. “Environmental Scarcitiesand Violent Conflict.” International Security 19.1 (Sum-mer 1994): 5-40.______. “Environmental Scarcity and Mass Violence.”Conflict and the Environment NATO Advanced Re-search Workshop, June 1996.

Human Development Report 1996, published for theUnited Nations Development Programme by OxfordUniversity Press, New York, 1996.

“Just When You Thought It Was Safe.” The Economist.16 November 1996, 23.

Levy, Marc A. “Is the Environment a National Secu-rity Issue?” International Security vol. 20, no. 2 (Fall1995): 35 - 62.

Lowi, Miriam R. Water and Power: The Politics of a ScarceResource in the Jordan River Basin. Cambridge Univer-sity Press, 1993.

“The Liberation of the Environment,” Daedalus. Sum-mer 1996.

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Matthew, Richard A. “Environmental Security andConflict: An Overview of the Current Debate.” NSSQ.Summer 1995._____. “The Greening of American Foreign Policy,” Is-sues in Science and Technology. Fall 1996.

Myers, Norman. Ultimate Security: The EnvironmentalBasis of Political Stability. W. W. Norton & Co., 1993.

Porter, Gareth. “Environmental Security as a NationalSecurity Issue.” Current History. May 1995.

Postel, Sandra. Dividing the Waters: Food Security, Eco-system Health, and the New Politics of Scarcity,Worldwatch Paper 132, Sept. 1996._____. Last Oasis: Facing Water Scarcity (the WorldwatchEnvironmental Alert Series). W.W. Norton & Co., 1992.

Rodda, J.C. “Guessing or Assessing the World’s WaterResources?” Water Resources Journal. March 1996.

Serageldin, Ismail. “Towards Sustainable Managementof Water Resources.” Washington, DC: The World Bank,1995.

Simpson, Larry D. “Are ‘Water Markets’ a Viable Op-tion?” Finance & Development. June 1994.

Starr, Joyce. “Water Wars.” Foreign Policy. Spring 1991,17-36.

“State of the World.” A Worldwatch Institute Reporton Progress Toward a Sustainable Society, 1996.

“The State of the World Population 1996.” United Na-tions Populations Fund, New York, 1996.

“Stockholm Water Symposium.” Water International.December, 1992.

“Water Crisis Looms, World Bank Says,” The Washing-ton Post. 7 August 1995.

Stokes, Bruce. “Water Shortages: The Next Energy Cri-sis.” The Futurist. April 1983, 37-41.

“Water, Water, Everywhere,” The Economist. 24 Febru-ary 1996.

Jordan River

al-Qudsi, Sulayman. “Water Resources: Use, Con-straints, and Potential for Cooperation in the MiddleEast.” Practical Peacemaking in the Middle East—VolumeII. New York: Garland Publishing, 1995.

Allan, J.A., ed. Water, Peace, and the Middle East. Lon-don: I.B. Tauris Publishers, 1996.

Berck, Peter and Jonathan Lipow. “Water and an Is-raeli-Palestinian Peace Settlement.” Practical Peacemak-ing in the Middle East—Volume II. New York: GarlandPublishing, 1995.

Fishelson, Gideon. “Addressing the Problem of Waterin the Middle East.” Practical Peacemaking in the MiddleEast—Volume II. New York: Garland Publishing, 1995.

Ghezawi, Ali. Irrigation, Water, and Agriculture in theJordan River Valley and South Ghore: The Possibility ofCultivating Substitute Crops. Amman, Jordan: The RoyalScientific Society Press, 1994.

Gleick, Peter. “Reducing the Risks of Water-RelatedConflicts in the Middle East.” Practical Peacemaking inthe Middle East—Volume II. New York: Garland Pub-lishing, 1995.

Haddadin, M.J. “Water Management: A JordanianViewpoint.” Water, Peace, and the Middle East: Negotiat-ing Resources in the Jordan Basin, 1996.

Kally, Elisha. Water and Peace: Water Resources and theArab-Israeli Peace Process. Westport, Connecticut:Praeger Publishers, 1993.

Naff, Thomas. “The Jordan Basin: Political, Economic,and Institutional Issues.” Country Experience with Wa-ter Management. Washington, DC: The World Bank,1993.

Schwartz, Jehoshua. “Israeli Water Sector Review: PastAchievements, Current Problems, And Future Op-tions.” Country Experiences with Water Management.Washington, DC: The World Bank, 1992.

Spiegel, Steven. Practical Peacemaking in the Middle East,Volume II— the Environment, Water, Refugees, and Eco-nomic Cooperation and Development. New York: GarlandPublishing, Inc., 1995.

Zaslavsky, Dan. “The Water Problem in the MiddleEast and Proposals for its Solution.” Practical Peacemak-ing in the Middle East—Volume II. New York: GarlandPublishing, 1995.

Nile River

Ayub, Mahmood Ali and Ulrich Kuffner, “Water Man-agement in the Maghreb.” Finance &Development. June1994, 28-29.

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Fleming, Nicholas S. and Trevor M. Daniell, “Sustain-able Water Resources Management: an Australian Per-

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spective,” Water Resources Journal. Dec. 1994, 16-24.

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“Hydropower Potential of Asian and Pacific Region.”(chart) Water Resources Journal 180 (March 1994): 90-96.

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Womak, Brantley. Johns Hopkins School of AdvancedInternational Studies, November 11, 1996.

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The Natural Heritage Institute (NHI), a non-profit public interest environmental organization in San Fran-cisco, California, has spent several years investigating the links between agricultural dryland degradation andrural migration within Mexico and across the border into the United States. Results of NHI’s research, includ-ing analysis of national survey data on land use and migration in Mexico, will be released by the Institute inMay 1997 and suggested policy reforms will be presented to the Congressional Commission on ImmigrationReform, Clinton Administration officials, and Mexican officials and organizations. The following is a briefoverview of NHI’s work and findings to date. Portions of NHI’s final report will be published in the forthcom-ing issue of the Environmental Change and Security Project Report.

A growing number of experts believes that the national security interests of many countries will be affectedin the coming century by environmental scarcities and associated conflicts, by local and regional level popula-tion pressures, and by economic policies exacerbating patterns of inequitable resource distribution. Interna-tional organizations estimate that 25 million people have been displaced by environmental problems.1 Someresearchers estimate that those displaced by land degradation in dryland areas could top 100 million in thecoming two decades.2 This phenomenon has been termed “desertification,” and is the subject of a global treatywhich entered into force in December, 1996.3 The international Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) esti-mates that 70% of the world’s dryland agricultural areas are degraded, placing roughly 1 billion people at risk.This is compounded by chronic water shortages currently facing roughly 550 million people; these threatenboth human health and farming possibilities.4

Desertification has profound social and economic implications. Because rural communities depend on localland and water resources to ensure their continued subsistence, soil erosion contributes significantly to declinesin rural incomes. This decline in incomes, combined with factors such as population growth (which can in-crease land use and subdivision) and access to labor markets, can exacerbate conflicts over land resources andstimulate migration. Conflicts may also arise as new migrants attempt to integrate into established communi-ties. Moreover, developed countries have responded adversely to increased migration: almost 1 in every 3developed countries is restricting immigration from developing countries.5 These policies can serve to increaseconflict between developed and developing countries, particularly those with shared borders.

Desertification is a growing problem in the Americas, affecting much of the Peruvian coastal areas, 20% ofArgentina’s territory, and all of Northeast Brazil. Haiti has experienced a 2/5 decline in productive lands overthe last several decades, and only 2% of its territory is currently forested. Mexico, which shares a 2,000-mileborder with the United States, is one of the most affected countries in the region: 60 percent of lands are severelydegraded and drought is a persistent phenomenon. These concerns, as well as the tensions created by popula-tion movements along the border, led NHI to investigate the dryland degradation in agricultural regions as a“push” factor for urban and cross-border migration, and to investigate links with associated factors, such aspopulation trends and economic reforms.6 Work has been undertaken to improve understanding of environ-mentally induced migration and to identify policy alternatives for the United States and Mexico that could alsobe relevant for other countries suffering similar problems.


Mexico’s natural resources are coming under increasing threat of destruction, not unlike those of the United

U.S.-Mexico Case Studyon Desertification and Migration

by Michelle Leighton Schwartz and Heather Hanson

Michelle Leighton Schwartz is Senior Legal Counsel and Director of International Programs at the Natural HeritageInstitute. Ms. Schwartz serves as a consultant to environmental and human rights organizations, and intergovernmentalagencies such as the International Organization for Migration and the United Nations Environment Programme. HeatherHanson is Research Coordinator for the environment and migration project at the Natural Heritage Institute.

The Natural Heritage Institute


States.7 Over 1,000 square miles of lands are desertifiedannually, forcing more than 260,000 hectares of graz-ing and crop lands out of production. In addition, only50,000 square miles of forest are still standing and muchof these forest lands are likely to be gone by the year2000 if cutting continues at current rates. This degra-dation is largely caused by unsustainable land use prac-tices, but climate also plays an important role. Expertsattribute more than 10% of the changes in vegetativecover to climatic conditions. Climate models projectthat Mexico may become dryer and 2-5 degrees warmerby 2025, with precipitation becoming more erratic. Adrought is experienced every five years in one or moreregions of Mexico.8 Because the majority of Mexicancroplands are rain-fed, climatic changes could reducecrop yields by up to 40%, compounding the incomerisks of 30 million rural residents who are dependenton agriculture. Moreover, this has led to increasingdependence on groundwater, which is now beingpumped at rates exceeding recharge. In some princi-pal aquifers, water tables are dropping 1-3 meters an-nually. The problem is exacerbated by high rates ofpopulation growth in poor rural areas—nearly twicethe national average. Population trends remain highlycorrelated with poverty, lack of education and dimin-ishing resources: while the national birth rate standsat 2.5 children per women, in the poorest regions ofthe country it remains above 4.5.

To keep pace with population growth, the Mexi-can government will have to create 1 million new jobseach year. Given that at least half of the labor force isalready unemployed or underemployed, this level ofjob creation will be enormously challenging for Mexico.In these circumstances, migration may be inevitable.Moreover, these problems are exacerbated by increas-ingly uneven resource distribution: between 1990 and1993, 27 new billionaires were created in Mexico, whilemillions of Mexican incomes fell to below the officialpoverty line. Conflicts over land in Mexico are becom-ing more acute. Many analysts link conflicts in South-ern Mexico, particularly Chiapas, to natural resourcescarcity arising from land degradation, populationgrowth and economic inequality.

As immigration has increased to the United States,so have tensions over border issues. This is evident inthe new U.S. legislation passed by Congress last ses-sion. Under the new reforms, only the U.S. SupremeCourt will be allowed to issue injunctions against INSpolicies, severely limiting immigrant access to the U.S.court system. In 1997, the INS budget will rise to $ 3.1billion. The INS will expand the number of BorderPatrol agents upwards from the 5,100 in 1995 to 10,000by 2001. The INS will also increase their workplaceenforcement activities. In addition, the INS has un-veiled an electronic device called the “car stopper,”which will help to eliminate high speed chases by al-lowing Border Patrol agents to electronically disable a

suspect’s automobile.



To the extent that they contribute to migration,current environmental, demographic and economicdifficulties in rural Mexico pose serious challenges toreducing migration flows and resolving the long-stand-ing migration conflict. Cooperating with Mexico tomeet these challenges should become a high priorityamong U.S. officials, not only in seeking to address themigration dilemma, but also because Mexico remainsimportant to U.S. geopolitical and economic interests.Our shared border will continue to present opportuni-ties for economic cooperation through many vehicles,including the North American Free Trade Agreement(NAFTA) and the newly created North American De-velopment Bank, a binationally financed effort to pro-mote more equitable development throughout the bor-der region. Moreover, Mexico has ratified the new glo-bal Convention to Combat Desertification and Drought.If the United States ratifies the Convention, this treatycould serve as an immediate vehicle for joint programs.

Laws, policies and institutions play an importantrole in advancing or mitigating environmental degra-dation, population growth, and outmigration. For thisreason, NHI’s research program focuses on explicitlydetermining the existing incentives and disincentivesto sustainable management. Regardless of the differ-ences of opinion regarding population, environmentand migration, there is a remarkable degree of agree-ment among scholars that policy changes play an es-sential role in creating “vicious and virtuous circles”of response.9 This means that positive changes tend tobe self-reinforcing, as do negative ones. The exampleof land degradation in Mexico illustrates this well; de-sertification contributes to climate changes, leading todecreases in rainfall and higher temperatures whichthen exacerbate existing erosion. Likewise, once mi-gration becomes a well established community strat-egy, human capital resources and migrant networksmake it increasingly difficult to slow or stop migratoryflows. This snowball effect also works in the other di-rection: with positive steps towards soil conservationand greater rural productivity also producing feedbackloops for greater positive change, such as reducingmigration.

In sum, policies and activities in both the UnitedStates and Mexico can create conditions for construc-tion of either vicious or virtuous circles. There is sub-stantial momentum for continued migration: the largewage differential between the two countries, extensivemigrant networks, and historic policies to providecheap labor for agriculture in the United States act asan enormous “pull” in motivating many in Mexico tomigrate, while poverty, economic disparity and increas-

Special Reports


ing loss of agricultural lands in Mexico, fueled by popu-lation trends, are strong factors which “push” migrantsfrom rural to urban areas and toward the United States.

In stopping this “vicious circle” and in assuringthat people are not forced from their homelands in or-der to make a living, policy makers on both sides ofthe border will need to address the connections betweenpopulation trends, environment, trade and migrationdirectly by investigating how to promote thesustainability of livelihoods in rural Mexico. Clearerunderstanding of the links between these factors is es-sential to developing policy responses in Mexico andbi-nationally.

NHI’s effort to document this problem, both causesand consequences, also recognizes that analysis of theU.S.-Mexico case study may inform similar work inother regions by improving understanding of conflictsrelated to environmentally induced population move-ments. Mexico suffers from many of the same prob-lems endemic in other regions, such as widespread de-sertification, high rural population growth, and an in-creasing rural migration.

To accomplish its goals, the Institute has organizeda team of researchers to undertake a larger and morein-depth investigation of the physical and human di-mensions of desertification in Mexico. The team in-cludes economists, environmental scientists, demog-raphers, and lawyers. NHI has also secured commit-ments for the participation of officials on both sides ofthe border, including the U.S. Commission on Immi-gration Reform (CIR) and U.S. Department of State,Mexican National Population Council, Mexican Secre-tariat of Government, Mexican Secretariat of Environ-ment, Natural Resources and Fisheries (SEMARNAP).In addition, the team will receive input from the Inter-national Organization for Migration (IOM), and theUnited Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Theinvestigation will also expand our binational networkof NGOs.

Currently, NHI is working with Professor Alain deJanvry of U.C. Berkeley to undertake environmental,economic and demographic analysis of variables froma recent national survey of farm households in Mexicorelated to land use and cross-border migration. Thisanalysis and data will be the first of its kind and theresults will be combined with other research to developpotential policy reforms for both Mexico and the UnitedStates. NHI’s findings will be published in a reportand presented to officials in both countries, includingthe U.S. Congressional Commission on ImmigrationReform, which has provided support for this study.


Founded in 1989, NHI is a non-profit public interestlaw and consulting organization dedicated to conserv-ing the world’s natural resources. The Institute spe-

cializes in managing multidisciplinary teams of re-searchers, legal specialists and officials in the study ofglobal environmental issues. Its technical teams arecomprised of hydrologists, biologists, water projectengineers, modelers, lawyers, sociologists, political sci-entists and economists. NHI currently collaborateswith and counsels over 20 resource management andregulatory agencies at the local, state, and national lev-els throughout the United States and multinationallyin Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe. NHI isalso currently undertaking similar efforts in its bina-tional program with the U.N. Development Programin Africa. NHI collaborates closely with local commu-nities and NGOs to exchange experiences, informationand technologies for sustainable natural resource man-agement.

Copies of the Natural Heritage Institute’s report,The Desertification and Population Root Causes of Migra-tion: A Report on Indicators in Mexico and the United States,can be ordered from the Natural Heritage Institute, 114Sansome Street, Suite 1200, San Francisco, CA 94104;phone (415)288-0550; fax (415)288-0555; email<[email protected]>.


1 See, “Statement of Principles,” at 7, Report of the In-ternational Symposium on Environmentally-InducedPopulation Displacements and Environmental ImpactsResulting from Mass Migrations, Geneva, 21-24 April1996 (convened by the International Organization forMigration, United Nations High Commissioner forRefugees, and the Refugee Policy Group).2 Gregoire von Kalbermatten, “Desertification, Envi-ronmental Migrations and Conflicts,” Environmentally-Induced Population Displacements and Environmental Im-pacts Resulting from Mass Migrations, Id.3 50 nations had ratified the treaty by the end of Sep-tember 1996, the required number to ensure that thetreaty would enter into force three months later.4 N. Myers, Environmental Exodus: An Emergent Crisisin the Global Arena (Climate Institute, Washington, D.C.1995).5 Ibid. 9.6 While our investigation does not undertake compre-hensive analysis of “pull factors,” such as the wagedifferential, U.S. labor needs, and other U.S. policies,these are also recognized as significant contributors tothe problem.7 Much of the western United States continues to beplagued by soil erosion in agricultural areas, defores-tation, and excessive siltation of rivers and streams.8 See, Michelle Leighton Schwartz and HeatherHanson, “The Desertification and Population RootCauses of Migration: A Report on Indicators in Mexicoand the United States (NHI, October 1996).9 See Robert Repetto, The Second India Revisited: Popu-

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lation, Poverty and Environmental Stress Over Two Decades.World Resources Institute, Washington, DC, August1994.

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In “The Project on Population, Environment and Secu-rity: Key Findings of Research” by Thomas Homer-Dixon in the Spring 1996 issue of the Report the dia-grams of Figures 2 and 3 were reversed. The correctedversion follows:

Figure 2: The Process of Resource Capture

Figure 3: Ecological Marginalization



Official Statements and DocumentsBelow are excerpts from recent official statements and public documents in which environmental issues are cited in thecontext of security institutions and national interests. The Wilson Center encourages readers to inform the Report ofother related public statements; please send a note to the address listed on the inside cover, or E-mail us [email protected].


President of the United States

Excerpts from President Clinton’s Remarks at the International Coral Reef Initiative Event, Port DouglasPark, Port Douglas, Australia22 November 1996

We are citizens not only of individual nations, but of this small and fragile planet. We know that pollution hascontempt for borders—that what comes out of a smokestack in one nation can wind up on the shores of anotheran ocean away. We know, too, that recovery and preservation also benefits people beyond the borders of thenation in which it occurs. We know that protecting the environment can affect not only our health and ourquality of life, it can even affect the peace. In too many places, including those about which we read too oftennow on the troubled continent of Africa, abuses like deforestation breed scarcity, and scarcity aggravates theturmoil which exists all over the world.

. . .Finally, we must work to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions. . . .If they continue unabated, the conse-quences will be nothing short of devastating for the children here in this audience and their children.

New weather patterns, lost species, the spread of infectious diseases, damaged economies, rising sea levels—ifthe present trends continue, there is a real risk that sometime in the next century, parts of this very park we arehere in today could disappear, submerged by a rising ocean. That is why today, from this remarkable place, Icall upon the community of nations to agree to legally binding commitments to fight climate change. . . .

STATEMENTS BY ALBERT GORE, JR.Vice President of the United States

Excerpts from Vice President Gore’s Letter in the U.S. Department of State’s first annual report on the envi-ronment and foreign policy, Environmental Diplomacy: The Environment and U.S. Foreign Policy, April 1997

The U.S. State Department’s first annual report on the environment and foreign policy represents a new way oflooking at the world. We have moved beyond Cold War definitions of the United States’ strategic interests. Ourforeign policy must now address a broad range of threats—including damage to the world’s environment—thattranscend countries and continents and require international cooperation to solve.

Environmental problems such as global climate change, ozone depletion, ocean and air pollution, and resourcedegradation—compounded by an expanding world population—respect no border and threaten the health,prosperity, and jobs of all Americans. All the missiles and artillery in our arsenal will not be able to protect ourpeople from rising sea levels, poisoned air, or foods laced with pesticides. Our efforts to promote democracy,free trade, and stability in the world will fall short unless people have a livable environment.

We have an enormous stake in the management of the world’s resources. Demand for timber in Japan meantrees fall in the United States. Greenhouse gas emissions anywhere in the world threaten coastal communitiesin Florida. A nuclear accident in Ukraine kills for generations. Our children’s future is inextricably linked to ourability to manage the earth’s air, water, and wildlife today.

The first State Department report details the Clinton Administration’s priorities for working globally, region-ally, and bilaterally to combat serious and growing international environmental threats. It documents an impor-tant turning point in U.S. foreign policy—a change the President and I strongly support.


Official Statements



Excerpts from Secretary of State Albright’s Letter inthe U.S. Department of State’s first annual report onthe environment and foreign policy, EnvironmentalDiplomacy: The Environment and U.S. Foreign Policy,April 1997

Just over one year ago, then-Secretary of State Christo-pher announced that the State Department wouldspearhead a government-wide effort to meet theworld’s environmental challenges. He said, “TheUnited States is providing the leadership to promoteglobal peace and prosperity. We must also lead in safe-guarding the global environment upon which that pros-perity and peace ultimately depend.”

This report is an outgrowth of that initiative. It will bereleased every year on Earth Day. Its purpose is toupdate global environmental challenges and policydevelopments and to set our priorities for the comingyear.

Not so long ago, many believed that the pursuit of cleanair, clean water, and healthy forests was a worthy goal,but not part of our national security. Today environ-mental issues are part of the mainstream of Americanforeign policy.

We are building on three basic premises.

First, we know that damage to the global environment,whether it is overfishing of the oceans, the build-up ofgreenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the release ofchemical pollutants, or the destruction of tropical for-ests, threatens the health of the American people andthe future of our economy. We know that rapid popu-lation growth exacerbates these problems and has con-sequences that transcend national borders. And weknow that the global environment can be protectedmost effectively if nations act together. For these rea-sons, this effort must be a central concern of Americanforeign policy.

Second, environmental problems are often at the heartof the political and economic challenges we face aroundthe world. In Russia and central Europe, environmen-tal disasters left over from the Soviet era shorten livesand impede reform. In central Africa, rapid popula-tion growth combined with the competition for scarceresources fuels conflict and misery. We would not bedoing our jobs as peacemakers and as democracy-build-ers, if we were not also good stewards of the globalenvironment.

Third, we believe, as did President Kennedy, that “prob-

lems created by man can be solved by man.” The envi-ronmental problems we face are not the result of natu-ral forces or the hidden hand of chaos; they are causedby human beings. These problems can be solved ifAmerica works in partnership with governments,NGOs, and businesses that share our commitment to acleaner and healthier world.

To meet this challenge, the State Department is chang-ing the way we do business. Four years ago, we ap-pointed an Under Secretary for Global Affairs. Ourembassies and bureaus are developing regional envi-ronmental policies that advance our larger nationalinterests. To help coordinate these policies, we areopening regional environmental hubs at our embassiesin Costa Rica, Uzbekistan, Ethiopia, Nepal, Jordan, andThailand. We have made environmental cooperationan important part of our relationships with countrieslike Japan, India, Brazil, and China.

Globally, we are pursuing five environmental priori-ties: the problems of climate change, toxic chemicals,species extinction, deforestation, and marine degrada-tion. We have made many important advances, includ-ing agreements to phase out the remaining substancesthat damage the stratospheric ozone layer and to banocean dumping of low-level radioactive waste.

We have many opportunities this year to make furtherprogress. At the conference on the UN FrameworkConvention on Climate Change, which will be held inKyoto, Japan this December, we will be pressing for asubstantive agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emis-sions. The United Nations will hold a special sessionthis year to commemorate the fifth anniversary of theRio Earth Summit. There will also be an importantmeeting of the Convention on the International Tradein Endangered Species.

Environmental diplomacy is a work in progress. Thedepletion of our fisheries, the increase in the level ofgreenhouse gases, and the destruction of habitats andspecies did not occur overnight and cannot be reversedovernight. We must work with the Congress and theAmerican people to obtain the resources we need tosupport our diplomacy in this area, as in all others.

We have made a good beginning. Our nation and ourfriends and partners around the world have the tools,the commitment, and the know-how to get the job done.As Secretary of State, I am committed to this effort andoptimistic that we will succeed.


Official Statements


Secretary of State

Secretary Christopher’s Remarks to the WoodrowWilson International Center for Scholars,14 January 1997“The Environment in U.S. Foreign Policy”see page 186 of this Report

Secretary Christopher’s Remarks to Council of theAmericas, Washington, D.C.Excerpts from “Council of the Americas: SupportingEconomic Growth and Democracy”6 May 1996

. . .We will advance our hemispheric efforts to help pre-serve the environment when the Summit’s Conferenceon Sustainable Development meets in Bolivia later thisyear. At Stanford University three weeks ago, I stressedthe importance of integrating environmental issues intothe mainstream of foreign policy. Whether in confront-ing the costs of climate change or the impact of defor-estation on the consolidation of democracy in Haiti,addressing these issues is squarely in America’s inter-est. That includes helping American companies expandtheir commanding share of a $400-billion market forenvironmental technologies. We all need to recognizethat pitting economic growth against environmentalprotection is what President Clinton calls “a falsechoice.”


Secretary of Defense

Excerpts from Secretary Perry’s Remarks toThe Society of American Engineers ,Washington, D.C.20 November 1996

Last month, I visited the Little Star Shipyard in Arch-angel, Russia. . . .I went there to observe the dismantle-ment of a nuclear submarine. A few years ago, thatsubmarine was out on patrol, carrying enough nuclearmissiles to destroy dozens of American cities. Now itis being dismantled by some of the same Russian work-ers who built it, using equipment provided by theUnited States Department of Defense.

The waters around the Little Star Shipyard are packedwith old Russian nuclear submarines. These subma-rines no longer threaten the world with a nuclear holo-caust; however, they are still a major environmentalhazard to the Arctic region. By helping Russia dis-mantle these subs, we are creating a win-win-win situ-ation.

It’s a win for America—the submarine we saw beingdismantled will never again threaten American cities.

It’s a win for the Russians—the workers doing the dis-mantlement were previously unemployed because ofthe decrease in orders for nuclear submarines. Andit’s a win for the environment—the submarine’s nuclearfuel will be disposed of safely; and the sub’s compo-nents are being recycled into materials that can be usedto produce commercial products. To use defense re-sources to destroy weapons that once threatened usmakes good sense on its face. Indeed, that’s why wecall it “defense by other means.” But to use defenseresources to protect and preserve the environment mayseem counter-intuitive.

Each year, Congress gives the DoD environmental bud-get a special working-over. The critics wonder whywe are spending scarce defense resources on whatseems to be a non-defense activity. They say, “Focuson a strong defense and leave the environment to oth-ers.” They are wrong. I say that a strong environmen-tal program is an integral component of a strong de-fense—and a strong Department of Defense. The De-fense Department must have an environmental pro-gram that protects our troops and families; that man-ages our training and living areas carefully; that ful-fills our obligation to be good citizens to the commu-nity in which we live; and that sets a good example toother militaries around the world. Let me take theseone at a time.

First, let’s be clear that defense environmental protec-tion is critical to military readiness and to military qual-ity of life. Our military personnel live, train, and workin the same location—in the same environment. Wemust not expose our forces, their families and militarycommunities to environmental health and safety haz-ards. So we take care to limit their exposure to hazard-ous materials in the workplace. And we take great careto keep our base communities informed of what weare doing on base, and involve local citizens in makingenvironmental clean-up decisions. These are peoplewho work on our bases; who support our troops; andwho are key members of our effort to maintain a qual-ity force.

A second point is that defense environmental protec-tion is good management, because as any good busi-ness manager knows, if you pollute today you pay to-morrow. We are paying the price right now, becauseyears ago the Defense Department, like many indus-trial organizations, did not invest enough attention orresources in environmental protection. As a result, to-day our military installations contain about 10,000 con-taminated sites. That’s land we cannot use for trainingand operation. And on bases we’re closing, that’s landwe must restore at great cost, before we can turn it overto local communities for reuse. Cleaning up these sitesis costing us more than $2 billion a year, which is nearly


Official Statements

half of our overall defense environmental budget. Wedon’t want to make these mistakes again.

A third reason for an emphasis on environment is thattaking care of the environment is good citizenship. TheDefense Department is the steward for over 25 millionacres of public land. These lands include some ofAmerica’s most pristine landscapes and precious re-sources; including rare and endangered species, na-tional historic places and Native American burial sites.Many of our bases are part of civilian communities inclose proximity to residential neighborhoods andschools. Military activities can have a significant im-pact on the quality of the land, air, and water that weall use. We protect a beautiful nation, and we must doour part to keep it beautiful. For all these reasons, en-vironmental protection is a key task for every militarymanager. But it is also a fact that defense environmen-tal protection is not an option. We in the defense de-partment face the same local, state, and federal envi-ronmental laws and regulations that apply to everyorganization and institution in this country.

We take these laws and regulations seriously. . . .Thatis why, three years ago, we created the Office of Envi-ronmental Security at the Pentagon, and appointedSherri Goodman to coordinate and lead our efforts atthe highest levels. That is why the Services have eachappointed a flag officer to lead environmental, safetyand occupational health activities in the ranks. That iswhy, over the past several years, we have worked hardto reduce our damage to the environment. And it ispaying off. From 1986 to 1992, we cut our hazardouswaste in half. Our goal is to cut it in half again by 1999.Cutting waste not only improves environmental qual-ity, it also quite obviously reduces disposal costs. Pol-lution prevention is a good classic investment. And itsaves money that can be used for other defense pro-grams.

All of this sounds like a good idea whose time has come.But over the longer term, we must deal with the prob-lem of environmental pollution at its source. So we aredesigning environmental responsibility into our newweapons systems; by reducing hazardous emissions inthe building of new systems; and by reducing the needfor hazardous materials in the operation and mainte-nance of these systems.

. . .The U.S. military has a wealth of experience andexpertise that it can share with the militaries of othernations. Our defense environmental programs are be-coming another important tool in which to engage themilitaries of new democracies. In doing so, we canmake a small contribution to a better global environ-ment; and have a positive influence on their approachto defense and the way they manage resources.

We are doing this, for example, with the Russians inthe Arctic. Just two months ago, I signed a uniqueagreement with Russia and Norway in which our forceswill work together to ensure that their military activi-ties do not harm the Arctic environment. . . . Geographi-cally, the Arctic is the closest route between the UnitedStates and Russia. So it is fitting that in preserving thisroute, we bring our nations closer together. We are alsoworking with the Russians to use our intelligence ca-pabilities to map out environmental contamination.Earlier this year, Vice President Gore and Russian PrimeMinister Chernomyrdin exchanged maps that vividlydepicted environmental conditions over Eglin Air ForceBase in Florida and Yeysk Air Base in Russia. This ex-change was unique because the United States producedthe map of the Russian base, and the Russians producedthe map of the American base. These bilateral ex-changes not only provide us with important environ-mental science data; they are also another way of over-coming a half century of mistrust by working closelytogether on common pursuits.

All over the world, the U.S. military is helping to spreadthe word on how armed forces can protect the envi-ronment. . . .

. . .There is a great benefit when militaries of the worlddo their part to protect and preserve their environ-ments. There is a greater benefit when they do this byworking together. Not only are we making the worlda cleaner and safer place; we are also bridging oldchasms and building new security relationships basedon trust, cooperation and warmth. That makes theworld a more peaceful place. Thomas Jefferson oncesaid, “The Earth is given as a common stock for man tolabor and live on.” All nations own shares of that com-mon stock. And all nations share a common obliga-tion to preserve it so that our common stock providesthe capital for the labor and lives of future generations.I am proud that the U.S. military is playing a positiverole; and you all should be proud too of the role thatyou’re playing to make the U.S. military a leader inenvironmental security in the world.


Director of Central Intelligence

Director Deutch’s Remarks to the World AffairsCouncil, Los Angeles, CaliforniaExcerpts from “The Environment on the IntelligenceAgenda”25 July 1996

. . .Environmental trends, both natural and man-made,are among the underlying forces that affect a nation’seconomy, its social stability, its behavior in world mar-kets, and its attitude toward neighbors.


Official Statements

I emphasize that environment is one factor. It wouldbe foolish, for example, to attribute conflicts in Soma-lia, Ethiopia, or Haiti to environmental causes alone.It would be foolhardy, however, not to take into con-sideration that the land in each of these states is ex-ploited in a manner that can no longer support grow-ing populations.

Environmental degradation, encroaching deserts, ero-sion, and over-farming destroy vast tracts of arableland. This forces people from their homes and createstensions between ethnic and political groups as com-petition for scarce resources increases. There is an es-sential connection between environmental degradation,population growth, and poverty that regional analystsmust take into account.

National reconnaissance systems that track the move-ment of tanks through the desert, can, at the same time,track the movement of the desert itself, see the sandclosing in on formerly productive fields or hillsides laidbare by deforestation and erosion. Satellite systemsallow us to quickly assess the magnitude and severityof damage. Adding this environmental dimension totraditional political, economic, and military analysisenhances our ability to alert policymakers to potentialinstability, conflict, or human disaster and to identifysituations which may draw in American involvement.

Some events have already dictated that environmentalissues be included in our intelligence agenda. WhenMoscow initially issued misleading information aboutthe accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, U.S.leaders turned to the Intelligence Community to as-sess the damage and its impact on the former SovietUnion and neighboring countries.

During the Gulf War, when Saddam Hussein used eco-logical destruction as a weapon, policymakers and themilitary called on the Intelligence Community to trackthe movement of smoke from burning oil fields andthe flow of oil released into the gulf. They askedwhether damage to Iraq’s Tuwaitha nuclear complexposed a danger to troops and local population.

In each of these cases, our answer to these questionswas not and could not be, “the environment is not anintelligence issue.” Our answers were classic intelli-gence analysis based on our data from collection sys-tems and open sources. ␣ We were able to assess themagnitude of the Chernobyl accident; we were able totell U.S. troops how to avoid lethal hydrogen sulfidefrom oil fires; and we were able to tell military plan-ners that damage to the reactor was not a threat.

I would like to emphasize that the environment is nota new issue for the Intelligence Community. For years

we have devoted resources to understanding environ-mental issues. Much of the work that now falls underthe environmental label used to be done under othernames—geography, resource issues, or research. Forexample, we have long used satellite imagery to esti-mate crop size in North Korea and elsewhere. This al-lowed us to forecast shortages that might lead to insta-bility and to determine the amount of agricultural prod-ucts a nation would need to import—information valu-able to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and toAmerica’s farmers. We have also tracked world avail-ability of natural resources, such as oil, gas, and miner-als.

We have for many years provided the military withinformation on terrain and local resources. As ourforces embark on military, peacekeeping, and humani-tarian operations in remote and unfamiliar territory,they will need even better information on environmen-tal factors that could affect their health and safety andtheir ability to conduct operations.

. . .Environmental intelligence will also be a part of oursupport to economic policymakers. They need to know,for example, whether or not foreign competitors aregaining a competitive advantage over American busi-ness by ignoring environmental regulations. Intelli-gence can provide valuable information.

In short, the demand on the Intelligence Communityfor information on environmental issues will grow. Asthe world population expands and resources such asclean water and arable land become more scarce, it willbecome increasingly likely that activities of one coun-try will have an environmental impact that goes be-yond its borders. U.S. policymakers will need warn-ing on issues that are likely to affect U.S. interests andregional stability.

Maintaining a capability for environmental intelligencewill allow us to answer important questions that arelikely to come from our consumers in the future. Forexample, China’s rapidly growing population andbooming economy will translate into a tremendous in-crease in demand for the world’s natural resources,including oil and food. What impact will this have onworld markets? As in the past, we must be preparedto answer such questions.

We should also be willing to provide data from ourcollection systems to help experts answer less tradi-tional questions, for example: what impact will in-creased burning of fossil fuel have on the global envi-ronment?

. . .In 1991, then-Senator Gore urged the IntelligenceCommunity to create a task force to explore ways that


Official Statements

tantly, it will greatly enhance their ability to providestrategic warning of potentially catastrophic threats tothe health and welfare of our citizens.

. . .I would like to make one more key point about ourwork on environmental issues—the costs are small andthe potential benefits enormous. The resources allo-cated to environmental intelligence are modest, per-haps one tenth of a percent of the intelligence budgetfor collection and analysis. We are using intelligencecapabilities that are already in place. This importantwork requires no new capital investments.

. . .I think it would be short-sighted for us to ignoreenvironmental issues as we seek to understand andforecast developments in the post-Cold War world andidentify threats to our national welfare. Just as Secre-tary Christopher promised “to put environmental is-sues in the mainstream of American foreign policy,” Iintend to make sure that Environmental Intelligenceremains in the mainstream of U.S. intelligence activi-ties. Even in times of declining budgets we will sup-port policymakers and the military as they addressthese important environmental issues.


Deputy Secretary of State

Excerpts from Deputy Secretary Talbott’s Remarksat the Environmental Issues in American Foreign

intelligence assets could be tapped to support environ-mental research. That initiative led to a partnershipbetween the Intelligence and scientific communitiesthat has proven to be extraordinarily productive forboth parties.

The Environmental Task Force found that data collectedby the Intelligence Community from satellites and othermeans can fill critical information gaps for the envi-ronmental science community. Furthermore, this datacan be handed over for study without revealing infor-mation about sources and methods.

For example, imagery from the earliest intelligence sat-ellites—which were launched long before commercialsystems—can show scientists how desert boundaries,vegetation, and polar ice have changed over time.These historical images, which have now been declas-sified, provide valuable indicators of regional and glo-bal climate change.

Some of the scientists who participated in the Environ-mental Task force now make up a group called MEDEA.MEDEA works with the Intelligence Community to es-tablish what we call the “Global Fiducials Program.”Under this initiative, during the next decade we willperiodically image selected sites of environmental sig-nificance. This will give scientists an ongoing recordof changes in the earth that will improve their under-standing of environmental processes. More impor-


as United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations

Excerpts from Ambassador Albright’s Keynote Address to the 1994 Symposium for the EnvironmentalDefense Fund on the Global Environment: International Issues and InstitutionsApril 21, 1994

. . . It’s no secret that the Clinton Administration has a fundamentally different philosophy than its prede-cessors. We believe that America should be the world’s environmental leader, not foot-dragger. We believeenvironmental awareness is a prerequisite to, not an obstacle to, economic growth. We believe that environ-mental degradation is not simply an irritation, but a real threat to our national security.

During the Cold War, we mobilized against the risk of nuclear Armageddon. The environmental risk is notas spectacular or as sudden. It does not focus the public’s mind in quite the same way. But left unad-dressed, it could become a kind of creeping Armageddon. It is both a product of, and a cause of, socialdisintegration. It is making uninhabitable increasing chunks of our planet. And it could, in time, threatenour very survival. . .

International cooperation on the environment is no longer an option; it is an imperative. The lines we drawon maps matter less and less. The forces that now shape our lives are global and interlocking. That is whysustainable development is not an economic policy or an environmental policy or an education policy or ahealth policy—it is all of those things and more.


sure from atmospheric pollution. The economic andhuman toll of these conditions hinders Russia’s at-tempts to move forward with reform.

The challenge for us is to help the Russians—and theother peoples in the post-Communist world—buildsystems and societies that treat natural resources andpublic health as core elements of their national inter-ests. That’s why the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commissionincludes an Environmental Committee that uses clas-sified data from both sides to help scientists and gov-ernment planners address ecological problems. Mean-while, the Environmental Protection Agency is help-ing Russia clean up its drinking water, and the Depart-ment of Energy is helping Ukraine safeguard its nuclearreactors.

Environmental issues are equally important in theMiddle East and the Gulf, a region of the world thathas been especially on our minds of late. We focus onsurface-to-air missiles, tanks and artillery, which are adangerous mix with ancient hatreds and aggressiveambitions. But we mustn’t overlook the more mun-dane ingredient of water, which has immense poten-tial both for good and, in its scarcity, for ill. In no otherregion of the world are waterways and internationalpolitics so intertwined. Iraq, Syria and Turkey sharethe Euphrates River Basin; Israelis, Jordanians, Pales-tinians, Lebanese and Syrians all rely on the resourcesof the Jordan River Basin. That’s why the Middle Eastpeace process includes a multilateral working groupon water resources.

In this connection, last month Secretary Christopherannounced that our embassy in Amman, Jordan, willbe among the first of 10 “Environmental Hubs” thatwill, by the year 2000, be located in all regions of theworld. These hubs are an innovative departure for ourDepartment, because they are designed as an additionalinducement to our diplomats in a particular post, asthey act locally, to think regionally.

In Central America, we have designated our embassyin San Jose, Costa Rica, as another environmental hub.In that neighborhood—which is, of course, our own—I’ve spent some time working with two countries thatI’d like to mention. One is Panama. We will, as youknow, return the Panama Canal to the Panamaniangovernment and people at the end of 1999. But thepath between the seas itself faces a potentially lethalecological—and economic—threat. Various forms ofenvironmental degradation could close the locks. Weare committed to working in partnership with the Gov-ernment of Panama to ensure that the Canal’s protec-tive buffer zones are managed in a way that guardsagainst deforestation, erosion and the buildup of silt.Another country, even closer to the U.S., where I’ve

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Policy Seminar, National Foreign AffairsTraining Center, Arlington, Virginia10 September 1996

. . .This past February, on a tour of Latin America, Sec-retary Christopher visited Manaus and personally in-spected the Brazilian rainforest....[The outing] under-scored a strong, consistent, personal commitment tomaking environmental activism part of the day-in, day-out work of the Department of State. The rationale fordoing so is simple: it’s because the health and welfareof Americans are bound up with the quality of the land,air, and water everywhere in the world; the extinctionof species in the tropics, the spread of pollutantsthrough acid rain, the decline of stocks of fish in ouroceans. All these are apparent in tangible, troublesomeways here at home. But struggles over land, water, andother natural resources affect our national interestsoverseas as well, since they can lead to instability inregions of critical importance to the United States.

Because threats to the environment are so often inter-national in scope, no nation can, on its own, achievelasting solutions. In the past 25 years, the United Stateshas made important progress toward putting its ownenvironmental house in order, but even our best effortswill be insufficient if our neighbors do not or cannotdo the same. The State Department, as the agency ofthe U.S. government responsible for relations with othercountries, obviously has a crucial role to play.

. . .Let me now refer to some specific areas of the worldand how environmental concerns obtrude on our po-litical, economic and security interests—and shouldobtrude more on both our analysis of what is happen-ing there and on our diplomatic efforts to shape eventsin a way that will serve our interests.

I’ll start, predictably perhaps, with the former SovietUnion. When Reactor Number Four at the Chernobylnuclear power plant blew its top 10 years ago, it wasmore than an isolated accident; it marked the begin-ning of the meltdown of the USSR. That one disasterhelped catalyze the policy of glasnost in Moscow andthe independence movement in Ukraine. The death—more accurately, the murder—of the Aral Sea and thebefouling of Lake Baikal fanned grass-roots outrageagainst the obtuseness of Kremlin rule. In short, So-viet ecocide was, to an extent few of us realized at thetime, the beginning of the end of the Soviet regime, theSoviet system and the entire Soviet empire.

Today, in addition to all the other challenges they face,the people in that vast part of the world have to cleanup the mess they inherited from the Communists. Halfof Russia’s water is undrinkable even after treatment.The health crisis in that country stems in large mea-


spent a lot of time, including in recent weeks, is Haiti.We all know about the legacy of the Duvaliers and theTon-Ton Macoutes. Political violence is part of the grue-some background to the troubles besetting that coun-try as it tries to consolidate a fledgling democracy. Butthere’s another legacy that is just as hard to overcomeand eventually expunge. Deforestation, soil erosion,and water shortages have combined to leave thousandswithout a livelihood and without much hope for thefuture.

. . .It was in this spirit that Secretary Christopher, in hisStanford speech, called for a New Partnership for En-vironment and Foreign Policy designed to forge newrelationships between experts who might not otherwisesee the common interests they share. Let me stress whatthe Secretary’s Initiative is not. It’s not about creatinga new, separate, self-contained, and therefore by defi-nition self-marginalized bureaucracy that will be off ina corner somewhere worrying about the fate of the earthwhile the rest of the foreign-policy machinery grindson doing its traditional thing. Rather, it’s an attemptto integrate a concern for and a can-do attitude toward-environmental issues into the way we approach virtu-ally every major task.

. . .The well-recognized problems and solutions thatarise in the interaction of nation-states are still verymuch with us, and they will be so for a very long time.History, the last time any of us checked, has not ended.But we are beginning to understand, perhaps for thefirst time, the sometimes devastating, sometimes prom-ising, always complicating interaction between humanhistory and natural history.

. . .Understanding—and acting on—the importance andinteraction of global issues is an imperative for diplo-mats as well. The institution hosting this conference—the Foreign Service Institute—is to be congratulated,as it (like some of the rest of us baby-boomers) cel-ebrates its 50th birthday, for integrating environmen-tal issues into its core curriculum, from the junior of-ficer orientation course to the Senior Seminar. A nine-month economics course now includes segments onclimate change, trade and environment, biodiversity,and sustainable development.

But we as an institution and as a profession need to domore; we need to do it across a broader front and reachmore deeply into the system, so that we continue toadvance our national security while doing a better jobon issues that know no boundaries, from environmen-tal damage to international crime.

As a follow-up on his Stanford speech and his envi-ronmental initiative, the Secretary has asked me to usethis occasion to affirm and amplify on an important

principle: the foreign service officer of the 21st centurymust have significant experience in global issues. Thiscan be accomplished in many ways, from working inMexico City on border pollution, or in Beijing on popu-lation or energy matters, or here in Washington in abureau that deals with international crime, terrorism,environment, refugee affairs, or the promotion of de-mocracy and human rights.

. . .To everyone here, whether you’re part of the gov-ernment or the NGO sector, I’d make a final appeal. Ithas to do with money. We don’t have enough. . . .As Isay, the Congress has tried to put American foreignpolicy on a starvation diet. And precisely because glo-bal issues in general and environmental issues in par-ticular represent a new agenda, a non-traditional en-terprise, they are among the most vulnerable targetsfor financial squeezing and cutting.

Just a few examples: We haven’t been able to come upwith the seed funding for a project that would helpreduce CFCs worldwide; The United States is the big-gest debtor in the Global Environmental Facility, theprincipal international funding mechanism for the ac-tivities called for by the Climate Change Convention.We’re currently in arrears to the tune of $100 million;Our environmental assistance to the New IndependentStates of the former Soviet Union has fallen from nearly$75 million in FY95 to less than $10 million in FY97, adramatic retreat on a crucial front.

. . .We also need to persuade Congress that the interna-tional-affairs budget is a modest and prudent invest-ment in our long-term safety and prosperity. And thatmeans we need to persuade the American people onthat score.

Part of Secretary Christopher’s environmental initia-tive is a determination to raise public awareness of theimportance of environmental issues to our nationalinterest. We will do a better job of educating the publicon this subject if we better educate ourselves. That’sexactly what you are doing in this seminar today. Forthat I thank you—and I wish you well.


Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs

Under Secretary Wirth’s Remarks at the Center forNational PolicyExcerpts from “Population Pressure and the Crisis in the Great Lakes Region of Africa”18 December 1996

. . .I’m pleased to lead off this discussion of the longterm causes of conflict in the Great Lakes region of Af-rica—a subject I began focusing my attention on in July

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1994, when two million refugees poured out of Rwandainto neighboring countries. Secretary of State WarrenChristopher had asked me to travel to the region, totake stock of what was shaping up to be one of the great-est humanitarian disasters of our time. One of the firstthings I noticed, as my flight entered Rwanda, werethe terraced farms in the hills surrounding Kigali. Itstruck me as unusual that in the midst of Africa’s vast-ness, farmers in Rwanda had managed to till everyavailable meter of land, right up to the peaks of thehills in the countryside. Farmer’s homes normally siton the peaks of those hills—the only bit of land that isnot used for farming. I didn’t know then, that prior tothe tragic events of spring and summer 1994, Rwanda’s7.6 million people were living on 25,338 square kilo-meters of land, a population density of about 290 peopleper square kilometer, among the highest in Africa. Bycomparison, at that time, the overall average for sub-Saharan Africa was 23, and most neighboring coun-tries were all well below 100 people per square kilo-meter.

Why was Rwanda’s population density so high? Be-cause Rwanda was producing a lot of new citizens. In1983, the total fertility rate for Rwanda stood at 8.5 chil-dren per woman. As John May, a demographer at TheFutures Group will point out in a forthcoming article,even with a high mortality rate for children under five,Rwanda’s population continued to expand at alarm-ing rates because the population had become accus-tomed to rapid growth, because Rwandan ethnicgroups had come to think of population growth as anasset, and because of an aversion to modern methodsof contraception. In the 43 years from 1950 through1993, the world’s population grew from 2.2 billion tomore than five billion—slightly more than doubling—while during that same period, Rwanda’s populationquadrupled. It seemed to me that in Rwanda, as inother parts of the world I have seen, there were simplytoo many people competing for too few resources. Thisis particularly true in Rwanda, where patterns of landuse have increasingly become problematic, especiallysince independence in 1962. Rwandan society had, forat least several generations, relied upon subdivision ofland among male heirs. In a country with a rapidlyexpanding population, this created many small plots,some too small to sustain even a small family.

It would be helpful here to review a bit of history. In1963, the new Rwandan government developed a re-settlement policy to deal with land scarcity, which in-volved transporting people to areas where arable landwas available for cultivation. However, the plan wasdropped shortly afterward because the number ofpeople ready to relocate quickly outpaced the avail-able plots. There were also strict controls in place onrural-urban migration. The government tried a sec-

ond effort to find additional arable land for Rwanda’srapidly growing population in 1965, but this effort alsofailed because the available land was quickly ex-hausted. In fact, by the late 1980s, Rwanda’s agricul-tural output was beginning to sag. From its positionas one of sub-Saharan Africa’s top three performers inthe early 1980s, Rwanda’s per capita output fell bynearly 20 percent in the early 1990s. Much otherwisearable land fell into disuse because of civil conflict andmine laying. Profound food shortages began emerg-ing, particularly in the southern and western parts ofthe country. As more and more land came under culti-vation in Rwanda, the agricultural frontier continuedto close. Few people chose to remain in the rural areaswhere they were raised; but because they were not per-mitted to move to a town without having a job in hand,many moved into ecologically fragile upland and aridareas that yielded little new production.

Meanwhile, other events were taking shape in Rwandathat would change the course of the country’s history,and would intensify into an enormous humanitariantragedy....However, the genocide of 1994 is only oneexample of large-scale interethnic killing that haswracked not only Rwanda, but also neighboringBurundi, since the late 1950s. . . .

. . .In trying to explain these cycles of killing, exile, andrevenge killing that have characterized much of therecent history of these lands, I frequently return to thereality of competition for scarce resources that under-lies the tension. At the same time, there is a danger ofassuming that scarce resources alone, such as land inRwanda, cause conflict. As demographer NicholasEberstadt has pointed out, the problems of sub-SaharanAfrica might occur (given underlying societal tensions)even if the population levels of these nations were sta-tionary. But is it possible to rule out the enormouspopulation change in Rwanda during the past 40 yearsas a critical factor in its recent ethnic turmoil? I believenot.

Population growth and extreme population move-ments certainly have a negative affect on political sta-bility. When they happen in concert with environmen-tal degradation, stalled economic development, weakgovernmental structures and ethnic rivalries, they serveas a powder keg into which a match can easily betossed. Demographics alone do not cause or predictconflict, but the fierce competition for resources thatpopulation density creates compounds any effort toreconcile pre-existing historical and cultural differences.Had the security of resources and demographic dis-ruption not been present in Rwanda, I am convincedthat its society would have been more resilient, andless susceptible to the depravity of genocide.

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. . .Thomas Homer-Dixon, a researcher at the Univer-sity of Toronto, has written that “environmental scar-city often encourages powerful groups to capture valu-able environmental resources and encourages marginalgroups to migrate to ecologically sensitive areas. Thesetwo processes in turn reinforce environmental scarcityand raise the potential for social instability.” In casesfrom around the globe, Homer-Dixon has illustratedhow competition over scarce resources, such as land,contributes to conflict. For example, in Haiti, follow-ing the overthrow of the Duvalier regime in 1986, manyfarmers who were no longer able to raise crops on landthat had become degraded, migrated to urban areassuch as the capital, Port-au-Prince. There, they foundrelatively poor conditions with little infrastructure toabsorb the quantity of new arrivals. During the mili-tary government that followed Duvalier, discontentover the disparity in land, competition for scarce re-sources and dissatisfaction with inequitable incomedistributions between the elites that ran the countryand dispossessed farmers boiled over, and resulted inthe civil strife that led to the intervention of U.S. forcesin 1994.

Are the cases of Rwanda and Haiti unusual? Again, Isuggest not. Each year, the U.S. intelligence commu-nity puts out a list of those nations where there is po-tential for humanitarian crisis. This year, the list in-cluded some 27 countries that were undergoing intenseconflict, simmering conflict, severe government repres-sion, cease-fires, political settlements, post-crisis mop-up or where there were potentials for new humanitar-ian emergencies. Of those 27, fully two-thirds havepopulation densities higher than the global average.What this points out, above all, is that the work thatwe have done and continue to do around the world onpopulation is vitally important. It is critically impor-tant that women in Rwanda, including those return-ing now to their homes, have access to information andservices that empower them to determine the number,spacing and timing of their children. We know fromexperience that social investments in women—in theirhealth, education and economic access—yield the high-est returns to society. An educated woman is morelikely to have fewer children, and her children in turnare more likely to be healthy and educated.

Naturally, there are other things that the internationalcommunity must do to help Rwandans rebuild theirlives. We must help returning refugees reintegrate intoRwandan society. Part of the $145 million that theUnited States recently pledged toward relief operationswill help with just that. . . .

. . .I would like to leave you with a thought: even if itcan never be proven that Rwanda and other troublednations slid into chaos precisely because of the pres-

sure of acute population increases, it is inarguable thata country doubling in population every 20 years, wherewomen bear eight children each, where density is al-ready staggeringly high—these countries are much,much more likely to run full speed into economic, en-vironmental, social and political walls, frequently withdisastrous results. I ask that all of us, and not onlythose who care about the Rwandan people, carefullythink through this challenge as we move into the 21stcentury.


Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Environmental Security

Under Secretary Goodman’s Remarks at theNational Defense University, Washington, D.C.Excerpts from “The Environment andNational Security”8 August 1996

. . .For “preventive defense” to succeed we must ad-dress the increasingly diverse threats to our security inthe post-Cold War world. President Clinton in his 1996State of the Union Address described these threats inhis call to maintain America’s leadership in the world:“The threats we face today as Americans respect nonation’s borders. Think of them: terrorism, the spreadof weapons of mass destruction, organized crime, drugtrafficking, ethnic and religious hatred, aggression byrogue states, environmental degradation.”

As the President recognized, the underlying causes ofconflict and instability, such as ethnic cleavages andenvironmental degradation, may threaten our nationalinterests in regions of strategic importance. Under-standing the causes of conflict and instability, provid-ing adequate warning of potential crises, and actingwell before a crisis to avoid costly military interven-tions are at the heart of “preventive defense.”Operationalizing “preventive defense” will pose whatI believe is a primary challenge to policymakers in theyears ahead. Policymakers are beginning to delve moredeeply into the causes and consequences of conflict andinstability in the post-Cold War world. It is increas-ingly clear that environmental degradation and scar-city play a key role in this complex question. In 1996,for the first time, the National Security Strategy recog-nizes that “a number of transnational problems whichonce seemed quite distant, like environmental degra-dation, natural resource depletion, rapid populationgrowth and refugee flows, now pose threats to our pros-perity and have security implications for both presentand long-term American policy. . . .”

. . .Environmental scarcities can interact with political,economic, social, and cultural factors to cause instabil-

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ity and conflict. Particularly in poorer countries, scar-cities can limit economic options and therefore forcethose already impoverished to seek their livelihood inecologically endangered areas such as cities. The“megacities” of the South are especially vulnerable. Thedeveloping world’s urban population is expected toincrease 1 billion in 1985 to 4 billion—or almost half ofthe world’s population—by 2025. Such areas can be-come teeming areas for disease, crime, and social de-cay. The multiple effects of environmental scarcity, in-cluding large population movements, economic de-cline, and capture of environmental resources by elites,can weaken the government’s capacity to address thedemands of its citizens. If the state’s legitimacy andcapacity for coercive force are undermined, the condi-tions are ripe for instability and violent conflict. If thestate’s legitimacy and coercive force capacity remainintact or are bolstered, the regime may turn more au-thoritarian and challenge the trend of democracy andfree markets around the world. Either way, our secu-rity is affected, and U.S. military forces may becomeinvolved, when environmentally linked instabilityspills over to other states in a key region, or when acomplex humanitarian emergency results from envi-ronmentally rooted population movements.

. . .Even where environmental degradation or scarcityis not likely to be a cause of instability or conflict, mili-tary environmental cooperation can help promote de-mocracy trust, and capability to address environmen-tal problems. In this context, defense environmentalcooperation supports one of Secretary Perry’s threepremises of preventive defense: that “defense estab-lishments have an important role to play in buildingdemocracy, trust and understanding.”

I believe our environmental security challenge nowunder “preventive defense” is two-fold. One challengeis to understand where and under what circumstancesenvironmental degradation and scarcity may contrib-ute to instability and conflict, and to address those con-ditions early enough to make a difference. The secondchallenge is to determine where military environmen-tal cooperation can contribute significantly to buildingdemocracy, trust and understanding. These two ele-ments together constitute the environmental securitypillar of “preventive defense.”

. . .In a speech on the Senate floor on 28 June 1990, Sena-tor Sam Nunn spoke of the need to “harness some ofthe resources of the defense establishment…to confrontthe massive environmental problems facing our nationand the world today.” That led to the establishment ofthe multiagency Strategic Environmental Research andDevelopment Program (SERDP), which plays an im-portant role in developing and analyzing the dataneeded for alerting us to possible security threats.

Through SERDP, which was established in 1990, Sena-tor Nunn and then-Senator Gore had the foresight torecognize that the U.S. defense posture had to be ad-justed to meet the challenges of the post-Cold Warworld, challenges that include environmental degra-dation. SERDP has made significant contributions toour understanding of global environmental trends,with key projects including the Joint DoD/Energy De-partment Atmospheric Remote Sensing and Assess-ment Program, which monitors ozone levels; and theAcoustic Monitoring of the Global Ocean Climate,which measures global ocean temperature and incor-porates these data into climate change models. Thisanalysis is important to developing the types of warn-ing systems I believe we need.

Military operators are also paying more attention tohow we can be alert to potential crises. We were cer-tainly surprised that Canada and Spain—two NATOallies—would nearly come to blows over fishing rights.This dispute, which happened just off the U.S. coast,proved that even among developed countries, there isthe potential for fierce resource competition. This inci-dent was a real wake up call to our military operators,who reviewed the origins of the dispute carefully andare now seeking to work with other organizations inimproving international fisheries management. Wehave also begun looking at assessment and warningmechanisms with our NATO partners. “Environmentand Security in an International Context,” a new pilotstudy launched by NATO’s Committee on the Chal-lenges of Modern Society this past March, calls for theNATO representatives to work closely with represen-tatives of the North Atlantic Cooperation Council andthe Partnership for Peace countries. During the courseof the study we will identify and assess security risksposed by environmental problems, prioritize those risksfor action, and devise an action plan to address them—with a strong emphasis on preventive actions.

Promoting military environmental cooperation thatcontributes significantly to democracy, trust and un-derstanding is the second element of the environmen-tal security pillar of “preventive defense.” SecretaryPerry himself has acknowledged the unprecedentedopportunity the Defense Department has today to es-tablish and reinforce key relationships: “Our environ-mental efforts are also having a global impact. All overthe world, American forces are sharing the wealth oftheir environmental experience with foreign militaries,showing them by example and instruction how to pro-tect and preserve the air, lands, and waters in their owncountries. This is one of many forms of military-to-military engagements our forces are conducting to helpAmerica build cooperative relations with new friendsand former foes.”

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. . .At the end of the Cold War our European Command(EUCOM) initiated a military-to-military program inCentral and Eastern Europe to encourage and facili-tate the democratization process. Early in that programthe environment emerged as an important area for co-operation as the militaries of these countries becameaware of and sought to address their environmentalresponsibilities. Since the beginning of this “mil-to-mil” program we have engaged multiple federal agen-cies, state and local governments, non-governmentalorganizations, the public, and the military in programsgeared toward meeting environmental challenges. Wehave shown our Central and Eastern European part-ners, through working with representatives of a widearray of organizations, that the military can and shouldparticipate easily and effectively in open and coopera-tive processes within a democratic framework.

. . .Cooperation with other key U.S. Government agen-cies is important to designing the most effective formsof environmental cooperation. Recognizing that thewhole is often greater than the sum of its parts, on 3July 1996, Secretary Perry, Secretary O’Leary, and Ad-ministrator Browner signed a Memorandum of Under-standing calling for cooperation among the DoD, theEnergy Department, and the EPA, to jointly addresscritical environmental concerns. Cooperative activitiesunder the MOU will focus on enhancing other nations’abilities to identify and manage environmental threats,as well as on addressing the environmental conse-quences of both the military and civilian Cold War de-fense activities, and on strengthening ties with devel-oping and democratizing nations. Methods of coop-eration will include information exchange, research anddevelopment, monitoring, risk assessment, technologydemonstration and transfer, emergency response train-ing, regulatory reform, and environmental manage-ment. We plan to engage the other key U.S. Govern-ment departments and agencies in our MOU activities.In fact, we already are: last week, at DoD’s invitation,we hosted a Polish delegation from the Ministries ofDefense and Environment to develop bilateral,multiagency environmental cooperation involving theEnvironmental Protection Agency and Departments ofState, Energy, and Commerce. By the end of the week,the Polish delegation had proposed five areas for de-fense environmental cooperation, the heart of which ismaking American environmental technology and ser-vices available to assist Polish environmental problems,both in the military and the commercial sector. . . .


Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International and Environmental Affairs

Excerpts from Assistant Secretary Claussen’s Remarksat the Chatham House Workshop on Multinational

Corporations and Global Environmental Change,London, England27 June 1996

. . .Let me assure you that governments now acknowl-edge the importance of global environmental concernsat the highest levels. They are raised in meetings ofheads of state. . .to the highest levels of government. Itmeans that we will make environmental issues an in-creasingly significant component of our bilateral rela-tionships. It means that we will improve the capacityof our embassies around the world to address envi-ronmental concerns. It means that we will confrontthe problem of weak compliance with internationalenvironmental agreements. In a broader sense, it meansthat we will continue to make strong links betweenprotection of the environment and continued economicstrength, public health, and national security. . . .


Advisor to the President on Science and Technology

Excerpts from John Gibbons’ Remarks at the Con-ference on “Climate Change, Evolving Technologies,U.S. Business and the World Economy in the 21stCentury,” U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C.18 June 1996

. . .Through the past nine Presidents and 22 Congresses,our primary emphasis has been the battle for globalsecurity, based on the uneasy politics of disarmament,nuclear deterrence and containment. During that time,the second front has grown continually in both size andcomplexity, shaped by the forces of globalization, tech-nological advance, population growth, environmentaldegradation, and social change.

As the image of the Cold War recedes, it is the “secondfront” which advances. It is the plethora of human andenvironmental stresses which now commands our col-lective attention. It is the human wants—for jobs, edu-cation, health, a sound environment—and threats—infectious disease, illiteracy, mass migration, terrorism,and global change—which now define the second frontof security policy. In a recent speech at Stanford Uni-versity, Secretary of State Warren Christopher againdrew our attention to that broader concept of security—the “second front.” He described how a lasting peacedepends upon our ability to deal effectively and equi-tably with the social, economic, and environmentalneeds of a growing global population while continu-ing to deter military threats.

Secretary Christopher articulated what many of us in-tuitively grasp. We face a set of regional and globalchallenges which transcend agency missions, disciplin-ary divides, and political boundaries. Our traditional

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notions of national security and the role of science andtechnology need to change. We must craft new poli-cies and priorities which can both sustain our militarydeterrence capability and sustain environmentally-sound economic development. Last year, PresidentClinton took the first step in this direction by issuingthe nation’s first-ever National Security Science andTechnology Strategy.

. . .Over the past two years, we have worked with manyof you to define and implement a National Environ-mental Technology Strategy to support the develop-ment, domestic use, and export of environmental tech-nologies by U.S. business. We met and brainstormedwith over 10,000 people—from industry, academia,NGOs, and state and local governments—at more than25 workshops across the country. We believe this strat-egy is unique; it was created with all the key stake-holders, and it capitalizes on the resources of more thana half-dozen federal agencies including EPA, DoE,Commerce, and Defense, and it includes public-privatepartnerships and an integrated set of policies whichoperate from the initial stages of R&D through com-mercialization and export promotion. The strategy le-verages important trends that are taking place in in-dustry, where more and more companies pursue envi-ronmental excellence as a competitive strategy. Thestrategy also looks beyond our borders and supportsU.S. businesses seeking to capture rapidly expandingglobal markets for environmental technologies. Wehave:

•developed an Environmental Technology ExportStrategy to provide strategic market analyses of largeemerging environmental technology markets and sup-port U.S. businesses interested in moving into thesemarkets;•developed an Initiative for Environmental Technolo-gies (through USAID) to focus development assistanceon critical environmental challenges in developingcountries;•established a new Environmental Directorate at theExport-Import Bank to assist U.S. businesses with loansfor environmental projects overseas. Funding for en-vironmental projects at Ex-Im now exceeds $1 billion;•established the America’s Desk (a State Departmentinitiative) to help to solve problems for U.S. businessesoverseas and bring business concerns to the forefrontof the foreign policy process.


U.S. Special Representative to theCommission on Sustainable Development and

Special Negotiator on Climate

Ambassador Hambley’s Remarks to the Workshop onInternational Environment and Security Issues at the

National Defense UniversityExcerpts from “The Environment and Diplomacy:New Challenges for American Foreign Policy”8 August 1996

. . .Nowadays, the importance of the environment tothe health and well-being of each and every one of ushas come to be recognized as a key priority for govern-ments, both domestically and internationally. . . .

. . .Environmental issues are now in the mainstream ofAmerican foreign policy. No longer side-lined or placedin a second tier of interest, the environment is of im-portance to American diplomacy because of our gen-eral awareness about the potential for conflict engen-dered by resource scarcities and the concomitant, re-lated problem of access to limited resources. Moreover,as the Secretary mentioned in his Stanford address,there are now global environmental issues which ourdiplomacy must address in order to preserve a worldwhich is both healthy and sustainable for future gen-erations.

Both of these considerations—the problem of resourcescarcities and the specific environmental issues chal-lenging us today—are worth exploring this morningin the context of our discussion of the environment anddiplomacy. But before doing so, it would probably beworthwhile to underscore that, in many ways, a dis-cussion of “environment and diplomacy” cannot beseparated from the topic of “environment and secu-rity.”

. . .Let’s take a moment to look into the question of re-source scarcities and see how diplomacy is working toreduce some of the conflicts which have developed overtime because of them. First of all, it should be clarifiedthat such scarcities are not usually the direct cause ofviolent conflicts around the globe, but they are oftenindirect causes. This said, the four resources most likelyto contribute to conflict are land, water, fish, and forests.

Land scarcity is a recurrent theme in several low-levelbut persistent conflicts around the world. Scarcity canresult from land degradation, unequal distribution ofland, over-population, or some combination of thesefactors. The dynamic behind civil insurgencies overthe past decade in both the Philippines and Peru looksremarkably similar. Lack of access to productive agri-cultural land combines with population growth to en-courage migration to steep hillsides. These hillsidesare easily eroded, and after a few years fail to produceenough to support the migrants. The result is deep-ened poverty which helps to fuel violence. In the Phil-ippines, the New People’s Army found upland peas-ants to be most receptive to its revolutionary ideology.In Peru, as well, areas of land scarcity and poverty have

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often been Sendero Luminoso strongholds. Here, whilediplomatic efforts have met with some success in thePhilippines, peaceful reconciliation in Peru has not beenpossible.

Another resource that may cause conflict is water. Thisis in part because water shortages play a large role inconstraining agricultural productivity. And, to statethe obvious, water often moves from one country toanother. Almost 50 countries have more than three-quarters of their land in international river basins; 214river basins around the world are international in char-acter. While resource constraints tend to threaten in-ternal stability, water shortages in some regionsthreaten international conflict.

. . .Whether this will continue to be the case in the fu-ture remains very much problematical. Suffice it to say,that foreign policy experts are increasingly on the recordas stressing that armed clashes over water and waterrights are likely to be a major point of conflict in thefuture. To be sure, there are few issues where activediplomacy will have to be brought to bear to reducethe prospect for conflict over environmental issues ofsuch potential sensitivity as those which are related towater.

This said, a third area of resource scarcity—one relatedto fish—is also much involved as a matter of environ-ment and diplomacy. In the first instance, fish remainthe most important source of animal protein in manydeveloping countries. Yet, all of the world’s major fish-ing areas—all 17 of them—are close to reaching, or haveexceeded, what we perceive to be their natural limits.

. . .Finally, a fourth area of resource scarcity is in thearea of forests. Forests are linked with the other re-sources in a variety of ways. Deforestation accelerateserosion, changes local hydrological cycles and precipi-tation patterns, and decreases the land’s ability to re-tain water during rainy periods. Resulting flash floodsdestroy irrigation systems and plug rivers and reser-voirs with silt. And when silted coastlines decimatefisheries, fishermen turn to agriculture and then joinstarved farmers in cutting down more forest—complet-ing a vicious cycle.

. . .The questions of fish and forests as environmentalissues provide us with a good lead into the second as-pect of today’s discussion, namely, those areas whereour current diplomatic strategy is concentrated. Inaddition to these two areas, there are four others whichare also worthy of mention in this context: marine pol-lution, chemicals, biosafety, and climate change.

. . .The use of certain toxic chemicals and pesticides(like DDT and PCBs) in developing countries and East-

Official Statements

ern Europe and the newly independent states (NIS) isan increasing health threat to U.S. citizens. Most ofthese toxic chemicals were banned long ago in theUnited States, because they do not biodegrade and haveserious negative impact on human health and the en-vironment. These chemicals are transported long dis-tances through the air and water, thus affecting popu-lations far from their region of origin (they tend to travelfrom warmer to colder climates and are found withtelling effects even in remote, non-industrialized partsof the Arctic). Because this poses a long-term healthand environmental threat to the United States, we haveplaced a high priority on developing internationalagreements to regulate the trade, production and useof the most hazardous of these chemicals and pesti-cides, also known as persistent organic pollutants(POPs). We are in the process of urging all countries towork together toward an effective regime to addressthis issue. We are also working to provide improvedmechanisms for addressing risks associated with otherhazardous chemicals, including through participationin the development of a legally binding instrument forprior informed consent for the export of certain of thesehazardous chemicals. This is one diplomatic effortwhich, with continued patience and initiative, shouldresult in a meaningful result sometime during the nextyear.

The Parties to the Biodiversity Convention have de-cided to negotiate a “biosafety” protocol to regulate thetransfer and handling of organisms that have been ge-netically modified through modern biotechnology. . . .

. . .Perhaps the leading environmental issue confront-ing the world today is the question of global warmingor “climate change” as the problem is more accuratelydescribed. . . .The Administration has pushed for a sen-sible but progressive domestic and international ap-proach to this problem, including the negotiation ofstronger steps under the 1992 Climate Convention.

. . .In this regard, I think it is both important and ap-propriate to applaud the recent MOU signed by Secre-tary Perry, Secretary O’Leary, and EPA AdministratorBrowner to strengthen coordination of efforts to en-hance the environmental security of the United States,recognizing the linkage of environmental and nationalsecurity matters. This agreement is particularly timelygiven Secretary Christopher’s initiative to better inte-grate environmental concerns into all aspects of ourforeign policy. . . .


Official Statements

Memorandum of Understanding among theDepartment of Energy, Department of Defense,

Environmental Protection Agency3 July 1996 (excerpts)

The Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy, and the Department of Defense (the Parties),Recognizing that America’s national interests are inextricably linked with the quality of the earth’s environ-

ment, and that threats to environmental quality affect broad national economic and security interests, as well asthe health and well-being of individual citizens;

Recognizing that environmental security, including considerations of energy production, supply and use, isan integral component of United States national security policy and that strong environmental security contrib-utes to sustainable development;

Recognizing that environmental degradation can have global consequences that threaten the environment,health and safety in the United States;

Recognizing the central role of science and technology in promoting sustainable development and in re-sponding to global threats to environmental security;

Recognizing the need to overcome the environmental legacy of the Cold War in order to promote prosperityand stability;

Recognizing that the Secretary of State has primary responsibility for the conduct of United States foreignpolicy;

Recognizing that each of the Parties has a different experience, expertise, and perspective and that theircollaboration can uniquely assist in addressing international problems of importance for environmental secu-rity and can serve as a model for other countries;

Recognizing that each of the Parties has an important role to play in demonstrating and promoting ap-proaches and technologies that achieve safe and effective environmental management in defense-related activi-ties in the United States and abroad;

Recognizing that the Parties have established cooperation with the private and public sectors as a basis forjointly addressing sustainable development and environmental security; and

Believing that enhanced cooperation on international environmental protection issues that is consistentwith United States foreign policy and national security objectives is of mutual benefit,

Have agreed as follows:

I. Purpose

1. The purpose of this Memorandum is to establish a framework for cooperation among the Parties to strengthencoordination of efforts to enhance the environmental security of the United States, recognizing the linkage ofenvironmental and national security matters.

The Parties do not intend this Memorandum to create binding legal obligations.

II. Scope

1. The Parties shall develop and conduct cooperative activities relating to the international aspects of environ-mental security, consistent with U.S. foreign policy and their individual mission responsibilities, utilizing theirlegal authorities and facilities appropriate to specific tasks directed at achieving mutually agreed upon goals.2. Cooperative activities under this Memorandum may be conducted in areas contributing to improved envi-ronmental security, where such cooperation contributes to the efficiency, productivity, and overall success of theactivity. Such activities include: information exchange, research and development, monitoring, risk assess-ment, technology demonstration and transfer, training, emergency response, pollution prevention andremediation, technical cooperation, and other activities concerned with radioactive and non-radioactive con-tamination and other adverse environmental impacts on terrestrial areas, the atmosphere, hydrosphere,cryosphere, the biosphere (including human health) and the global climate system; defense or defense (strate-gic) industrial activities, energy production, supply and use, and related waste management; or other suchmatters as the Parties may agree upon, according to criteria to be mutually developed by the Parties.


Official Statements

[To EPA Administrator Carol Browner]August 8, 1996Dear Ms Browner:

It was gratifying to receive your letter regarding the Memorandum of Understanding Concerning Cooperation in EnvironmentalSecurity which you recently signed with Energy Secretary O’Leary and Defense Secretary Perry. The roles of your three agencies inpromoting environmental security are a significant contribution not only to protecting the environment but to pursuing our nationalinterests in key regions.

This agreement is timely, given our initiative at the Department of State to better integrate environmental concerns into all aspectsof our foreign policy. We are taking a number of steps towards this goal—from incorporating environmental planning into each of ourbureaus to designating key embassies as environmental hubs to address region-wide natural resource issues. These regional hubs willhelp to coordinate with national governments, regional organizations, and the business community to identify environmental priorities.Your combined effort in the Baltics provides a good example for other agencies on the importance of coordinating transboundary environ-mental concerns.

We welcome the opportunity to collaborate with you as you begin activities under this agreement. The Assistant Secretary of Statefor Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, Eileen Claussen, has designated her senior advisor, Sarah Horsey-Barr, to work with the program coordinators.

Sincerely, Warren Christopher

Related Official Correspondence[To Secretary of State Warren Christopher]July 1996Dear Mr. Secretary:

We are writing to apprise you of the collaborative action taken by the Department of Defense, Department of Energy, and the Environ-mental Protection Agency in the area of environment and security. Our action complements your initiative to incorporate environmen-tal issues in the Department of State’s core foreign policy goals.

As you stated in your Stanford speech: “The environment has a profound impact on our national interests in two ways: First,environmental forces transcend borders and oceans to threaten directly health, prosperity and jobs of American citizens. Second, ad-dressing natural resource issues is frequently critical to achieving political and economic stability, and to pursuing our strategic goalsaround the world.” In order to address critical issues related to environment and security most effectively, our agencies must worktogether to maximize our collective statutory and mission responsibilities, capabilities and resources.

The enclosed Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in Environmental Security is responsive to these concerns andestablishes a framework within which our agencies can work more productively together, and with our foreign partners. Projects underthis Memorandum will include work in both military and civilian fields and cooperation on a wide range of issues including scientificresearch and development, technology transfer, regulatory reform and environmental management. A goal of our projects is to enhancethe capacities of foreign states to protect the environment.

Our first activities under the Memorandum include plans to characterize and address radioactive contamination and environmen-tal degradation in the Former Soviet Union, to support the creation of an effective regional environmental framework in the BalticRepublics, and to enhance the work of the U.S. Energy Technology Centers in the Former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and China. Weexpect that activities in all these areas will benefit the environment, further U.S. foreign policy goals and national security interests, andexpand opportunities for private U.S. investment abroad.

As we pursue these and other activities under the Memorandum, we will continue to coordinate closely with the State Departmentin order to support the important issues of environment and security.

Sincerely, William Perry Hazel R. O’Leary Carol BrownerDepartment of Defense Department of Energy Environmental Protection Agency

3. The forms of cooperation under this Memorandum may consist of the following: participation in joint projectsaddressing the activities cited in paragraph 2 above, including sharing of technical expertise; cooperative workto institute and enhance environmental management systems related to defense activities; information manage-ment and exchange; participation in relevant symposia, conferences and seminars; development of joint scien-tific and policy publications; provision of equipment and associated materials to foreign entities through theappropriate instrument, consistent with United States law; temporary assignments of personnel from one Partyto another; and such other forms of cooperation as the Parties may agree upon.

4. Each Party may use the services of and enter into agreements with appropriate institutions, such as universi-ties and governmental and non-governmental organizations, to develop and conduct activities under this Memo-randum, consistent with applicable law. Where required by law, applicable regulations or procedures, suchagreements shall be subject to consultation with and the concurrence of the Department of State. [. . .]


New Publications

Fighting for Survival: Environmental Decline, Social Conflict, and the New Age of Insecurityby Michael Renner

W.W. Norton and Company, 1996. 240 pp.Reviewed by Peter Stoett

This book is part of the Worldwatch Environmental Alert Series edited by Linda Starke. Michael Renner isa Senior Researcher at the renowned Worldwatch Institute, and he has put together a text that is highly readableand informative. Though it might be criticized in academic circles as heavy on description but rather light onanalysis, Renner’s accessible style and conscious avoidance of jargon is best viewed as beneficial to the environ-mental security literature as a whole.

Renner describes the effects of environmental scarcity with reference to conflict, global warming, demo-graphics, population movements, inequality, and—ultimately—the insecurity that characterizes the post-ColdWar era. He links the global and local aspects of these developments, and argues that environmental crises ofboth orders can induce conflict. Yet he tempers his analysis with the realistic caution that “Typically there is nosuch thing as an exclusively ‘environmental conflict’” (page 75). Many other factors will always be involved,and to Renner’s immense credit he manages to discuss many of them within the space of this short, yet veryambitious, book.

In the second half of the book he moves beyond describing the problems we face and into what he considersmore positive suggestions for change, including a new North-South compact of sorts, decreased militarism,funding for conflict prevention, and the redistribution of land in many southern states. While Renner certainlysucceeds in convincing us that these things need doing, we get more about why than how in the end.

Nonetheless, Fighting for Survival offers the reader a broad overview of the burning security questions of ourtime. The author has made good use of his access to statistical resources (for which Worldwatch is so famous),and the writing flows from one page to the next. The book would make an excellent introductory text in envi-ronmental security studies, and should be considered for any course in global issues. One might argue that thebook tries to do too much, but this is overcome by the fact that, given its intended general audience, it largelysucceeds.

As such, complaints about the book are few. Renner includes two short case studies of Rwanda and Chiapas.These promising studies both reinforce the need to look at land tenure as a fundamental variable affectingconflicts over resource utilization. However, Renner does not provide enough detail in either case to make thema substantial contribution; nor does he make much of an attempt to identify the similarities and differencesbetween the two.

Some statements are made without adequate treatment. The author argues on page 101 that “official defini-tions of what constitutes a refugee and who therefore is eligible for assistance and protection are outdated andoverly narrow,” without offering a better definition that would have any chance of political acceptance. He alsotells us that, with the rise of NGOs in world politics, “No longer can governments engage in secret diplomacyagainst their own people, and no longer can corporations easily hide behind a smokescreen of proprietaryinformation and private property rights” (page 152). This is of course an optimistic overgeneralization. Indeed,Renner might have expanded considerably on his implicit faith in NGOs, especially in the latter sections of thebook.

When discussing his plans for a “Human Security Budget,” Renner brings up the quickly shelved yet stillpromising idea of obtaining funding for conflict prevention and southern development by fees levied on “airtravel, maritime shipping, telecommunications, and trade (including arms sales).” Though there are problemsinherent in all these possible revenue sources, it is the “arms trade” notion that really needs explication. Do wewant to finance environmental security with money from militarism? Do we want to legitimate arms sales inthis fashion?

But these are small points. This book succeeds because it clearly outlines the problems we collectively face,even if it does not provide all the answers we need. It is aimed at a broad audience that needs to understandbetter key global trends. After all, esoteric theoretical discussions of environmental security paradigms have alimited (if devoted!) following. Renner’s book not only serves as an excellent backgrounder, but may inspireothers to question the meaning of security, and its policy implications, in our time.

Peter Stoett is a professor in the Department of Political Science, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada.

Book Reviews


BUILDING BRIDGES: Diplomacy and RegimeFormation in the Jordan River Valleyby Randy Deshazo and John W. SutherlinUnited Press of America, 1996. 190 pp.

Reviewed by Jeffrey K. Sosland

For the past half-century power politics have beenthe organizing principle for Middle East diplomats andscholars. Political realists have used the Arab-Israeliconflict as a proving ground for their pessimistic ap-proach to international relations. Given that the regionhas been wracked by years of war and protracted con-flict, the approach of these political theorists is under-standable. However, with the advent of the peace pro-cess and with initial indications of a regional paradigmshift from conflict to cooperation, developing newmodels to understand the Arab-Israeli arena seemsmore germane. Water scarcity is a pivotal issue thatoffers a good testing ground for different theories ofinternational relations for this region.

In Building Bridges, Deshazo and Sutherlin apply amultilateral institutional approach to explain the im-pact of water scarcity in the Jordan River Valley. Theirstudy can be divided into three parts: (1) a historicaloverview of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the recentMadrid peace process; (2) an outline of various ap-proaches to cooperation and of many different meth-ods for testing these theories; and (3) a proposed modelfor a “Near Eastern water regime.”

The authors conclude that for a regime to be effec-tive, the institutions associated with it should have alegal structure, financing institutions, dispute resolu-tion mechanisms and an epistemic community whichis a professional group, such as water technocrats,whose members share common values; as well as acommon understanding of a problem and its solution.The authors’ multilateral institutional approach leadsto their policy recommendation for a “peace pipeline”— a water conveyance system from Turkey to some ofthe water-poor states in the Middle East.

The authors are on the mark that cooperation willbe more probable and lasting if there is a regime thathas clear rules, available financing, an internationalcommunity of experts that supports the regime and themeans to punish states that cheat. Nonetheless, thebook fails to address adequately the political and eco-nomic challenges of water scarcity in the Arab-Israeliarena. First, while the authors highlight the Arab-Is-raeli conflict, they do not adequately examine the po-litical history of the conflict over water. While theremay be a paradigm shift from conflict to cooperation,one lesson learned from the past is that Middle Eaststates are suspicious of plans that would unnecessar-ily increase their dependence on imported water and,thus, diminish their autonomy. Second, the “peacepipeline” is a supply-side, mega-project which will

probably never go beyond the planning stages becauseof the heavy costs and complicated politics. Currently,there are far cheaper and easier ways to address theregion’s water scarcity problems.

Improving water demand management offers amore realistic and effective approach to resolving theregion’s water scarcity problems than the “peace pipe-line.” The World Bank’s emphasis is on reducing theamount of water allocated to agriculture, whichDeshazo and Sutherlin argue against (p.100), while in-creasing the use of treated waste water in the farmingsector. This incremental approach, which is similar tothe method actually being pursued in the Middle Eastmultilateral peace talks on water resources, involvesan epistemic community, international funding andinterstate cooperation. In contrast to Deshazo andSutherlin’s approach, the World Bank’s and multilat-eral peace talks’ institutional approach call for build-ing many small bridges rather than a single onerousand enormously expensive water pipeline.

Jeffrey K. Sosland is a lecturer and Ph.D. candidate in Gov-ernment at Georgetown University.

THE ENVIRONMENTAL TRAP: The Ganges RiverDiversion, Bangladeshi Migration and Conflicts in

Indiaby Ashok Swain

Department of Peace and Conflict ResearchUppsala University, SwedenReport No. 41, 1996. 135 pp.

Reviewed by Deepa Khosla

Population movements both within and acrossstates are a major concern for individual states and theinternational community in the post-Cold War era.Worldwide there are estimated to be some 20 millionrefugees with an additional 10 million people displacedwithin their own countries. The inter-relationshipsbetween such flows, environmental stresses, security,and conflict have received much attention in recentyears. Swain’s study is a valuable contribution to ourgrowing body of knowledge in these areas as it helpsfurther both theoretical clarity and empirical researchon South Asia.

What constitutes a refugee and how to incorporateenvironmental stresses in such definitions are widelydisputed topics among both scholars and policymakers.While the term “environmental refugees” is currentlypopular among some academics, Swain argues thatclearer distinctions are required between forced (push)migration and movements based upon both push andpull factors. He focuses on the notion of migration,defining environmental migrants as those who are“forced to move away from their homes as a result of

New Publications


the loss of their livelihood and/or living space due toenvironmental changes (natural as well as anthropo-genic) and migrate (temporarily or permanently) to[the] nearest possible place (within or outside the stateboundary) in search of their sustenance” (page 17). Forhim, economic migration is largely a voluntary pro-cess, although he concedes that push factors might beas relevant.

However, making such distinctions in practice canbe problematic. Extreme poverty coupled with verypoor economic conditions can push peoples to migrateboth within and across states. For example, it can beargued that international economic sanctions and adeepening economic crisis pushed the Haitians to aban-don their homes and seek refuge in the United Statesin 1994. Were the Haitians economic migrants or didthe economic crisis just act as a trigger to the underly-ing environmental stresses leading to the exodus?

Efforts to refine a definition of environmental refu-gees are important for both conceptual and policy-rel-evant reasons. Currently, the United Nations defini-tion of a refugee does not encompass internal migrantsor those who migrate due to environmental degrada-tion in their areas of residence. While new categoriza-tions would be a valuable addition, the role of economicfactors and their interaction with environmentalstresses require further clarification.

In the study, Swain develops a sequential modelto explain how environmental degradation can pro-mote migration and potentially foster three forms ofconflict. Conflict can arise between the state and itspopulation due to migration from rural to urban areas.Secondly, cross-border migration can lead to disputesbetween migrants and indigenous groups in the receiv-ing state. The third conceivable type of conflict is be-tween the two neighboring states. This framework al-lows for multi-level analyses, drawing attention to howinternal environmental stresses can become internation-alized.

An expanded framework for future research couldinclude another potential form of conflict: disputesbetween migrants and indigenous populations withinan affected state. Violent intergroup conflict continuestoday in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladeshlargely due to a significant influx of Bangladeshis intothe tribal region. In addition, the role of internationalactors such as international and non-governmental or-ganizations along with multinationals could be explic-itly considered.

The water dispute between India and Bangladeshdates back to 1961 when India unilaterally decided toconstruct the Farakka Barrage on the Ganges River inorder to increase its dry season flow of water. AlthoughIndia and the lower riparian state, Bangladesh, negoti-ated several interim agreements to share the dry sea-son flow, India has for the last two decades continuedits unilateral withdrawals. Swain’s study reveals that

in southwestern Bangladesh, where some 35 millionpeople rely on the Ganges River for their source of live-lihood, the reduced water supply has led to environ-mental stresses such as decreased agricultural produc-tivity and fish stocks, increased salinization, the de-struction of forests, and an increased number of floods.

During the 1970s and early 1980s, he argues thathigh population density and limited economic pros-pects in the rest of Bangladesh stimulated many of theseenvironmental migrants to cross into India. This large-scale migration into tribal states such as Assam,Mizoram, and Tripura promoted conflicts between themigrants and the indigenous groups who feared beingoverwhelmed by “outsiders.” In Assam, for instance,violent attacks against the Bangladeshis and the stateapparatus continue to be utilized to press for their de-portation. A 30-year agreement reached between In-dia and Bangladesh in December 1996 holds out thepromise of a peaceful resolution of a potentially vio-lent inter-state situation.

This case study expands our empirical base on theimpacts of resource scarcity and raises some importantconceptual questions. It can be particularly useful forpolicymakers as it clearly reveals how a powerful statecan become embroiled in a violent regional conflict asa result of its development policies.

Future studies, including those that analyze thetentative resolution of the Ganges water dispute, couldbenefit by focusing more explicitly on the policy choicesof both receiver and sender states. India, for instance,has often used the Bangladeshi refugees to counteractthe separatist demands of its tribal groups. Migrantssometimes utilize their host societies or are used by thehost government to advance conflicts within the senderstate. Such actions can further complicate the relation-ship between the two affected states and potentiallydraw in other external actors. Research in areas suchas these will supplement our knowledge about the com-plex relationships between the environment, conflict,and refugee flows along with aiding growing researchon early warning systems.

Deepa Khosla is a doctoral student in the Department ofGovernment and Politics at the University of Maryland,College Park.

THE BETRAYAL OF SCIENCE AND REASON—How Anti-Environmental Rhetoric

Threatens Our Futureby Paul H. Ehrlich and Anne H. Ehrlich

Island Press, 1996. 335 pp.

Reviewed by Stephanie Wolters

Paul and Anne Ehrlich’s latest book, the Betrayal ofScience and Reason—How Anti-Environmental RhetoricThreatens Our Future, is not only a comprehensive and

New Publications


well-argued refutation of the recent backlash againstthe environmental movement, but also a valuable in-sight into the difficult arena of policymaking, publicinformation and the role of science in the environmen-tal movement. The Ehrlichs’ analysis of the many un-derlying reasons for the recent successes of the anti-environmental movement provides a useful tool forthose working to protect the environment, as well asfor anyone active in the public sector today.

The Ehrlichs describe the anti-environmental“wise-use” movement as motivated by loose politicalagendas designed to protect narrowly defined eco-nomic interests. They contend that the main objectivesof the wise-use movement are to block further envi-ronmental regulation and to free business from the pres-sures of enforcing strict environmental standards. Intheir attempts to achieve these goals, the wise-use ad-herents have solicited the help of an increasingly largestore of marginal science: science which, as the Ehrlichsargue, attempts, often on the basis of narrow scientificevidence, to refute the existing scientific consensus onsuch matters as global climate change, the impacts ofpollution, and the importance of biodiversity.

It is within the context of this discussion that theEhrlichs address the underlying issues of scientific in-tegrity and the perception of science by the public:“while scientific research is not properly carried outby consensus,…, science policy should be. That is, in

most cases, society’s best bet is to rely on the scientificconsensus—even though once in a while, thecontrarians will prove to be correct and will eventu-ally change that consensus. Society normally cannotafford to act solely on far-out views on scientific is-sues—most of which eventually prove to be wrong.”The Ehrlichs assert that criticism is an integral part ofthe evolution of science policy, but strongly urge thatthis criticism be based on sound scientific work andnot the need to bend realities to suit a political agenda.

As is frequently the case in the public setting, theenvironmental movement must struggle to gain theattention of the public and decision makers. TheEhrlichs point out that this has been hampered by fac-tors which are at once endemic to the environmentalmovement as well as to public education in general.First the frequently intangible impacts of global climatechange or toxic pollution make it difficult for individu-als to identify with these issues. Second, many of theprocesses of environmental degradation are gradualand take place over the long-term; this too makes itdifficult for people to perceive the need for immediateaction. In addition, the basic lack of scientific knowl-edge on the vast part of the public have severely hin-dered the successes of public education and lobbyingcampaigns. Finally, the Ehrlichs argue that recent im-provements in the quality of the environment have leadto a complacency amongst the general public, whichwonders why continued or even increased regulationis necessary. The movement against environmentalistshas capitalized on these factors and has helped to “cre-ate public confusion about the character and magni-tude of environmental problems, taking advantage ofthe lack of consensus among individuals and socialgroups on the urgency of enhancing environmentalprotection.”

It is to counter this trend that the Ehrlichs havewritten this eloquent defense of the environmentalmovement, and the need for scientific integrity. TheBetrayal of Science and Reason refutes erroneous infor-mation provided by the anti-environmental movement,and provides accurate information to the public. Inchapter five for instance, the authors tackle one of thebiggest anti-environmental statements, that there is nooverpopulation. The Ehrlichs write: “there is overpopu-lation when organisms (people in this case) become sonumerous that they degrade the ability of the environ-ment to support their kind of animal in the future.”They point out that resources such as soils and waterare already being depleted faster than they are beingrecharged. While technology may help to alleviatesome of the pressure on such resources, widespreadbehavioral changes, especially on the part of those liv-ing in the industrialized world, would be necessary tosupport 6 billion people indefinitely. Other chaptersaddress such anti-environmental myths as the anti-eco-nomic growth nature of the Endangered Species Act,

New Publications



Two recently published atlases may assist manyenvironment and security researchers: The State of Warand Peace Atlas (1997) and The State of the World Atlas(1995). The State of War and Peace Atlas, edited by DanSmith of the International Peace Research Instituteof Oslo, features a table of wars from 1990-1995 and34 sets of illustrated color maps, graphs and chartswith accompanying text under the following catego-ries: (1) Dynamics of War; (2) Wars of Identity andBelief; (3) Wars of Poverty and Power; (4) The Mili-tary World; (5) Dynamics of Peace. The volume’sunique format gives shape and meaning to statisticsabout volatile countries and regions and to key is-sues such as terrorism and military spending. TheState of the World Atlas, edited by Michael Kidron andRonald Segal, similarly translates key political, eco-nomic and social indicators—from international debtlevels to population trends to health statistics—intocolor maps and graphics. While both atlases containonly basic information about environmental andpopulation trends, they are notable for their breadthof coverage and ability to graphically link a range ofassociated variables. Both volumes are published byPenguin Reference.


the unnecessary regulation of toxic pollutants such asDDT and the charge that environmental protection willcost jobs.

One of the underlying triumphs of this book is itsinsistence upon seeking solutions for the current di-lemmas facing the environmental movement. In thefinal chapters, the Ehrlichs look beyond the rivalry be-tween environmentalists and anti-environmentalists,and focus on some of the actors who have the abilityto frame the debate in the minds of the public andpolicymakers: journalists and scientists. The Ehrlichschallenge the journalistic community to acknowledgethe integral role they play, and to report accurately andcritically on all environmental issues, not just thosewhich are most sensational. In support of this effort,they also make the extremely important call to the sci-entific community to become more actively involvedin popularizing the results of science, and to move outof the ivory tower and engage in public debate andeducation.

The Betrayal of Science and Reason practices what itpreaches; its well organized and reader friendly for-mat make it a useful resource for anyone interested inthe subject matter and a prototype of the public educa-tion for which the Ehrlichs are calling. It can be read asa whole as a comprehensive analysis of the anti-envi-ronmental movement, or serve as a valuable referenceguide to the current debates between anti-environmen-talists and environmentalists. What emerges is not onlya catalogue of sound arguments against the recent back-lash, but perhaps more significantly: the truism thatgood science policy in support of the environmentalmovement can only be the result of interactions be-tween scientists, journalists, policymakers, environ-mental groups and the general public.

Stephanie Wolters is a fourth semester MA candidate in In-ternational Relations / African Studies at the Johns HopkinsUniversity, Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced InternationalStudies (SAIS).

New Publications


University Press of New England, 1996. 194 pp.

Reviewed by Adam N. Bram

The American people have long supported the de-velopment and maintenance of a strong national de-fense. For the last half-century, the United States hasoperated under a traditional security equation. Withthe Cold War over, the U.S. government and the Ameri-can people have begun to reexamine the definition ofnational security. Assuming that quality of life is a pri-mary component in the post-Cold War security equa-

tion, and good health and a clean environment are keyelements of that calculus, National Defense and the Envi-ronment posits that environmental protection must be-come a fundamental directive for all U.S. agencies in-volved in the nation’s defense.

With case scenarios and figures, Stephen Dycus il-lustrates the costly toll that the United States has in-curred over the last half-century by building militarymight at the expense of the environment. For example,the remediation of the highly contaminated Jeffersonproving ground—where the Army has fired about 23million rounds of ammunition since 1941—is expectedto cost $5 billion.

The Department of Defense and the Departmentof Energy have been the primary agencies for ensur-ing that the United States created and sustained a for-midable military presence to preserve America’s secu-rity. Environmental protection was not, however, apriority for those two agencies. Dycus notes that it isonly within the last decade that both DoD and DoEhave begun seriously to address this dark legacy of theCold War and to change their environmental policies.In 1993, the Department of Defense formed the Officeof Environmental Security to oversee the remediationof polluted military areas. For its part, the Departmentof Energy is no longer producing nuclear weapons andhas promised to operate “all facilities in full compli-ance with applicable laws and regulations to [clean up]inactive sites and facilities so that no unacceptable riskto the public or the environment remains.”

What needs to occur now, maintains Dycus, is thatthe policies of national defense must be reconciled withthe popular will for clean air, land and water. NationalDefense poses the question, can the United States haveboth a strong national defense and a clean environ-ment? Dycus answers in the affirmative, echoing thewords of Former Defense Secretary Dick Cheney that“Defense and the environment is not an either/orproposition. To choose between them is impossible inthis real world of serious defense threats and genuineenvironmental concerns.”

The focus of National Defense is on the applicabilityand non-applicability of U.S. environmental laws andregulations to national defense activities. The authordetails the purpose of most domestic environmentallaws, their limitations, and how Congress can amendthe existing laws or pass new legislation; how the ex-ecutive branch, namely the agencies, should enforcethe laws; how the courts might better interpret the laws;and how the public should demand this necessary rec-onciliation of environmental protection and nationaldefense.

Currently, a wide array of U.S. environmental lawsmandate planning or require protection or restorationof the environment. However, until the late 1980s, DoDand DoE operated under informal policies of regula-tory noncompliance. Insufficient pressure by Congress


New Publications

and officials and a lack of public information helpedfoster this disregard for the environment. National De-fense acknowledges that DoD and DoE have made rapidprogress to correct their harmful policies. In 1995, DoEwas spending over $6 billion a year on environmentalprograms. It spent $17 million on waste reductionalone. DoD had budgeted more than $2 billion in thesame year for environmental remediation at active andformerly used military installations and $500 millionfor base closures. DoD has also begun implementingpolicies of source reduction and pollution prevention.While both agencies are presently providing good faithefforts to address their past injurious activities, decadesof inactivity and flagrant abuse have scarred the land,air and water.

The current problem is not one of disregard, butone of scale, commitment, and dwindling resources.According to an annual report released in 1993 by theDepartment of Defense, a complete investigation andremediation at all DoD sites will cost between $25 and$42 billion dollars. Such a clean-up would take morethan 30 years. Radioactive waste, hazardous waste, ormixed waste contaminate 137 DoE installations in 34states and territories. The General Accounting Officeestimates that the cost to restore the Department ofEnergy’s nuclear weapon’s complex ranges from $200to $300 billion. “The environmental bill for nearly ahalf-century of Cold War has come due,” proclaimsDycus. In these times of deficit reduction and budgetcutting, a public debate must ensue that intelligentlyculminates with a price that Americans are willing topay to defense-related environmental degradation.

National Defense compiles several dozen cases thatloudly sound the public alarm. Probably the most con-vincing cases deal with nuclear processing and wastedisposal. In 1993, DoE estimated that radioactive wastefrom its nuclear weapons complex totaled 600,000 cu-bic meters. This figure does not include the some 2,700metric tons of spent nuclear fuel being held in DoE stor-age pools, dangerously waiting for permanent storage.Of separate concern is the fact that experts believe thatDoE cannot account for as much as 1.5 metric tons ofplutonium, enough to make three hundred nuclearweapons.

Much controversy exists over the selection of amanner or place to safely and permanently dispose ofDoE’s nuclear waste. The Clinton Administration re-cently announced a two-track strategy to dispose of the50 tons of surplus plutonium from America’s nuclearweapons stockpile. Under this plan, the United Stateswill burn some of the plutonium, as a mix called MOX,in commercial nuclear power plants. The DoE will vit-rify the remaining surplus in glass or ceramic logs andintern them in an approved underground storage site.Congress has proposed two permanent nuclear wastestorage sites at the Yucca Mountain, Nevada and at theWaste Isolation Pilot Project (WIPP) near Carlsbad,

New Mexico. The EPA is currently reviewing an ap-plication by DoE to use the WIPP site, making it a likelycandidate to receive the logs and spent MOX fuel. Armscontrol advocates oppose the two-track plan becauseof fears of nuclear theft. Environmentalists fear thatU.S. use of MOX for commercial reactors will encour-age expanded plutonium production overseas. In Na-tional Defense, Dycus throws his voice to the opposi-tion, raising concerns over DoE’s ability to guaranteethe safe consignment of high-level radioactive wastein underground sites for thousands of years.

One of the largest radioactive waste clean-ups is atthe Hanford Reservation. Built in the 1940s as part ofthe Manhattan Project, this nuclear production facilityin southeastern Washington produced plutonium forthe nuclear weapons. Production ended in 1989, leav-ing around 1,700 sites contaminated with hazardousand radioactive wastes. Recent estimates to remediateHanford were running at $1.4 billion a year and rising.DoE spent ten percent of its entire 1994 environmentalbudget ($200 million) just trying to remediate 177 un-derground tanks at Hanford; 68 of those tanks are prob-ably leaking their contents of liquid or high-level tran-suranic wastes. Such wastes will remain dangerouslyradioactive for thousands, if not millions of years.Dycus suggests that it is uncertain what deleterioushealth effects have already been inflicted on Hanfordemployees, local residents and the ecosystems.

In contrast, scientists and health experts have cal-culated the precise public exposure of radioactivityfrom the Los Alamos National Laboratory near Albu-querque, New Mexico. In the last decade alone, thisnuclear weapons research and development facility hasreleased more than 3.2 million curies of radioactivityinto the atmosphere—an amount equal to 250,000 timesthat of the release at the Three Mile Island accident.

Nonradioactive and mixed hazardous waste havealso been major by-products of military activities. Twoenvironmental laws are the primary regulations forhazardous waste: the Resource Conservation and Re-covery Act (RCRA) and the Comprehensive Environ-mental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act(CERCLA). Other laws frequently overlap, such asthe Clean Water Act (CWA) and the Safe DrinkingWater Act (SWDA). RCRA is the law that primarilyapplies to the treatment, storage and disposal of haz-ardous waste. Dycus reports that until 1992, when Con-gress passed the Federal Facility Compliance Act, EPAhad not enforced RCRA in the same manner againstfederal facilities as it did against private ones. CERCLAoverlaps with RCRA and is primarily responsible forclean-ups. The applicability and enforcement of RCRAand CERCLA and other laws to federal facilities arestill being developed. National Defense provides sev-eral examples that demonstrate the need for Congres-sional intervention to address military site contamina-tion.


New Publications

“The Insecure State: Reflections on the State andSecurity in a Changing World”

by Stephen Del Rosso, Jr.DAEDALUS: Journal of the American Academy of Arts

and Sciences, vol. 124, no. 21995, pp. 175-207.

In his article, The Insecure State: Reflections on “theState” and “Security” in a Changing World, Stephen DelRosso, Jr. discusses the pressing need to reexamine thestate as the central focus of security. He also reviewsvarious efforts to expand the concept of security to in-clude non-military threats. The first half of this articlefocuses on the concept of “the state,” and the way inwhich it has changed or been perceived to havechanged since the end of the Cold War. Del Rosso ac-knowledges the “strict constructionist” school’s fearthat such a redefinition of security threatens to destroythe field’s “intellectual coherence and make it more dif-ficult to devise solutions...”; however, he argues that:

“the inability of scholars and policymakers to fullycomprehend the transformations taking place inthe contemporary state is. . .a major factor con-tributing to the clouded perception of security inthe final decade. . .of this century. . . .This persis-tent inability to understand the true nature of state-hood, to mistakenly apply the outmoded notionsof the past to contemporary affairs, is at the heartof the conceptual muddle surrounding the mean-ing of security in the post-Cold War world.”

While there have been many efforts to reconceptualizethe state, Del Rosso asserts that the state’s “traditional”capabilities and authority have been undermined byrecent advances in the world economy, advances incommunication and transport, secessionist pressures,


and environmental-health-demographic trends. Theend result has thus been that territorial boundaries arebecoming increasingly meaningless, and the state is in-creasingly being seen as unable to provide for the gen-eral welfare and protection of its citizens. In the sec-ond part of the article Del Rosso describes the growingdesire for a new paradigm to replace the outmodedCold War standard and the calls for a fundamental shiftin focus from weapons, arms control and geopoliticsto a new focus on geoeconomics. He argues that themost notable efforts throughout the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80sto expand the traditional concept of security failed toresonate widely in the Cold War climate. Only towardsthe end of the Cold War did appeals to redefine secu-rity win widespread attention. While Del Rosso con-cludes that the state will continue to provide a crucialframe of reference for the problems on the emergingsecurity agenda, he argues that the world is in dire needof a new definition of the state that not only fully re-flects its dynamic qualities, but that is capable of tak-ing into account the unprecedented, and often poorlyunderstood, changes taking place in the world.

by Janelle Kellman

“Broadening the Agenda of Security Studies:Politics and Methods”

by Keith Krause and Michael WilliamsMershon International Studies Review, vol. 40

1996, pp. 229-254.

This piece is divided into three well-crafted sectionswhich together provide an overview of the contempo-rary discussion of redefining security. The first sectionargues that traditional security ideas and conceptions—based on the belief that the state is the primary objectof security concerns—are incapable of incorporating

Despite the bleak portrayal of the environmentalblight left by the Cold War, Dycus finds reason for op-timism. The author points to the American public’sgrowing intolerance for needless threats to health orthe environment. Dycus suggests that, despite somerecent movements away from environmental protec-tion, Congress will probably remain responsive to pub-lic demands. The Departments of Defense and Energyhave been adopting programs and policies that show agenuine change in attitude among staff towards envi-ronmental compliance. While Dycus admits that ad-ministrative, financial, diplomatic, and political chal-lenges remain, he states that America has no choice butto reconcile its policies of national defense and envi-ronmental protection.

The Cold War can teach U.S. policymakers someimportant lessons. National Defense clearly conveysthat because there will always be “war and rumors ofwar,” there will always be national sacrifices that af-fect the environment. Having demonstrated the enor-mous cost of military preparedness without regard toenvironmental protection, Dycus urges us “not to de-stroy the very thing we would fight to protect.” De-fense and the environment need not be an either/orproposition. Yet, when a choice must be made, theauthor argues that, as a nation, we must have settledprocedures for determining when and how to choose.

Adam N. Bram is an attorney-at-law with Pitney, Hardin,Kipp and Szuch.


The Environment as Geopolitical Threat: ReadingRobert Kaplan’s ‘Coming Anarchy’”

by Simon Dalby Forthcoming in Ecumene 1996 3(4): 472-496.

Dalby comments both on the content and style ofKaplan’s article, concluding that Kaplan’s argument is“notable for its pessimism, forceful prose, and the ab-sence of any suggested substantive political remediesfor the immanent dystopia.” Dalby asserts thatKaplan’s ideas are reminiscent of earlier motifs, argu-ing that “fear of over-population and social hardship

important non-military dimensions of security. The sec-ond section shows that traditional neorealist studiesmay be fundamentally flawed and unable to meet manyof the standards that they impose on other disciplines.This section highlights several tensions and contradic-tions within the neorealist literature that render ratherproblematic its foundational claim to scientific objec-tivity. The third section parallels the first by evaluatingalternative approaches to the concept of “security.”Krause and Williams do a thorough job of raising sig-nificant challenges to both the traditional and alterna-tive approaches. The authors do not conclude that oneline of thinking is better than the other; rather, theirefforts aim to further the debate by presenting an over-view of both sides. Krause and Williams conclude thatboth views are needed. The authors conclude that itmay be necessary to broaden the agenda of securitystudies to narrow the agenda of security; a more pro-found understanding of the forces that create politicalloyalties and give rise to threats can lead to the pro-gressive removal of issues from the security agenda.

by Janelle Kellman

“Security Studies and the End of the Cold War”by David A. Baldwin

World Politics 48October 1995, pp. 117-41.

This piece argues that security studies might be moreappropriate as a subfield of international relations, thanas a separate discipline. Baldwin asserts that whiletoday’s world is very different than the period from1945-55, some of the modes of thought, policy concerns,concepts of security, and discussions of statecraft fromthat time period appear more relevant to the post-ColdWar period than those which emerged directly fromthe Cold War. The article is divided into three sections,the first of which reviews security conceptions fromthe interwar period to the present. Baldwin examinesthe tendency which emerged during the Cold War tooveremphasize the military aspects of national secu-rity at the expense of historical, psychological, cultural,organizational, and political contexts. He asserts thatthe Cold War militarized American security policy, andsecurity studies, making military instruments of state-craft the central if not the exclusive, concern of secu-rity specialists. In the second section, Baldwin assessesthe relevance of security studies to the new world or-der, suggesting that the field’s treatment of national se-curity raises questions about its relevance to the post-Cold War world. Those writing before the Cold Warnot only defined national security in broader terms, butalso had a more comprehensive view of the policy in-struments with which security could be pursued. Sucha broad view is likely to be more useful in the post-Cold War world than one confined to military state-

craft. The third section offers proposals for the futurestudy of security.

by Janelle Kellman

“The Greening of U.S. Foreign Policy”by Richard A. Matthew

Issues in Science and Technology, vol. XIII, no. 1Fall 1996, pp. 39-47.

This article discusses the possibilities for incorpo-rating environmental issues into American foreignpolicy. Despite optimism that the Clinton Administra-tion would bring environmental issues to the forefrontof policymaking, Matthew argues that the first ClintonAdministration was not nearly as aggressive on envi-ronmental issues as expected. He highlights Secretaryof State Warren Christopher’s promise made in April1996 to “green” foreign policy, but he asks the readerto question the potential for any real change in the nextfour years. After outlining some of the current politi-cal obstacles to implementing Christopher’s agendaand significant opposition in the Congress and in thesecurity, intelligence and diplomatic communities,Matthew believes that there is indeed reason for opti-mism.

To understand fully environmental problems,policymakers must have both scientific knowledge andan understanding of the interactions between ecologi-cal and social systems. While Matthew agrees thatChristopher’s proposals are promising, he feels thatthey are unfocused and he recommends various mod-erate courses of action, to enhance the role of environ-mental issues into American foreign policy. Accordingto Professor Matthew, there is much potential forprogress in environmental diplomacy, and the UnitedStates must take the lead in improving its own activi-ties. To achieve this objective, clearer goals are needed.Matthew outlines such goals and offers suggestions formaking this agenda more manageable. He concludesthat the United States must advance steadily on urgentissues while laying the foundations for more funda-mental change through education and modificationsto core values.

by Janelle Kellman

New Publications


New Publications

Mideast Oil Forever?by Joseph J. Romm and Charles B. Curtis

The Atlantic Monthly, vol. 277 no. 4April 1996, pp.57-74.

Romm and Curtis argue that “Congressional bud-get-cutters threaten to end America’s leadership in newenergy technologies that could generate hundreds ofthousands of high-wage jobs, reduce damage to theenvironment, and limit our costly, dangerous depen-dency on oil from the unstable Persian Gulf region.”The authors foresee a world in which the Persian Gulfcontrols two-thirds of the world’s oil for export andAmerica imports nearly sixty percent of its oil. Rommand Curtis believe that the current political climate offiscal retrenchment in the U.S. Congress is unknow-ingly undermining the Department of Energy’s (DoE)long-standing programs to develop renewable energysources. They predict a global energy revolution in thedevelopment of alternative fuels and renewable energysources stimulated by growing energy needs and en-vironmental concerns. In the highly competitive con-text of the global economy, the United States must actaggressively to maintain its leadership position. A well-funded DoE is a vital contributor to America’s long-term leadership.

To defend these claims, the article lists some of themany technological innovations that DoE investmentsin R&D have made possible. For example, a geneti-cally engineered organism discovered in 1994 enhancesthe fermentation of cellulose, increasing the rate of con-version and the yield of ethanol. This and other feder-ally supported research has brought the cost of mak-ing ethanol from $3.60 a gallon fifteen years ago toabout $1.00 a gallon today. Research is underway bythe DoE’s national laboratories and the auto industryto design and construct by 2004 a prototype clean carthat has three times the fuel efficiency of existing cars.

Romm and Curtis believe that continued DoE in-

Pivotal States and U.S. Strategyby Robert S. Chase, Emily B. Hill, and Paul Kennedy

Foreign Affairs, vol. 75, no. 1 January/February 1996, pp. 33-51.

“The United States needs a policy toward the de-veloping world that does not spread American ener-gies, attention, and resources too thinly across the globe,but rejects isolationist calls to write it off.” The authorsargue that the United States must “focus its efforts ona small number of countries whose fate is uncertainand whose future will profoundly affect their surround-ing regions. These are the pivotal states.”

The idea of a pivotal state derives from 19th cen-tury geo-political thinkers, such as Halford MacKinder,and was central to the foreign policies of Americanstatesmen such as Dean Acheson and Henry Kissinger.The authors argue that recovering this approach offersthree concrete benefits to the United States:• promoting global stability by focusing on countrieswhich have the greatest regional influence;• addressing concerns of the public regarding ourcurrently unfocused foreign policy;• integrating traditional military security issues withnew concerns, such as those related to environmentalchange.

The authors define a pivotal state as one with the“capacity to affect regional and international stability,”and they identify the following as currently fulfillingthis criterion: Algeria, Brazil, Egypt, India, Indonesia,Mexico, Pakistan, South Africa and Turkey. All of thesestates “face a precarious future, and their success orfailure will powerfully influence the future of the sur-rounding areas and affect American interests.”

As the United States faces new security threats, itmust develop strategies which would encourage inte-gration of the “...the new security issues into a tradi-tional, state-centered framework and lend greater clar-ity to the making of foreign policy.” The threats to thepivotal states include “...overpopulation, migration, en-vironmental degradation, ethnic conflict...all phenom-ena that traditional security forces find hard to ad-dress.” These issues should be of major concern toAmericans “...because their spillover effects can hurtU.S. interests.”

by Christa Matthew

has been a recurring political theme through the ColdWar, albeit one that was less prominent than concernswith superpower rivalry.” The ‘Coming Anarchy’ isan update of Malthusian themes that brings policy dis-cussion of environmental security to the attention of awider public.” Despite bringing such attentions to thefore, however, Dalby maintains that Kaplan’s article isriddled with inadequacies. It fails, for example, to ex-amine many of the driving forces behind environmen-tal degradation, is overly reliant on Thomas Homer-Dixon’s highly debated work, and “ignores the largertransboundary flows and the related social and eco-nomic causes of resource depletion.” Nonetheless,Dalby returns to Kaplan’s focus on Malthusian themesand contends that a resurgence of such ideas may beinstructive for future policy decisions.

by Janelle Kellman

vestment in some of these key technologies will notonly be good for the environment, but will be highlyprofitable for the U.S. economy. They warn that if Con-gress continues the thirty percent cuts in DoE energyprogram funding, the United States will miss what maywell be the single largest new source of jobs in the nextcentury: annual sales in renewable-energy technologiesmay hit $400 billion in 2040 and would support sev-eral million jobs.

by Michael Vaden


New Publications

NEW SCHOLARLY JOURNAL: Environment and Security

The Environment and Security (E&S) journal is a new social scientific journal devoted to the study of environ-mental forms of insecurity and to the national and international efforts to address these insecurities. The bilin-gual (French/English) journal primarily addresses the following topics: the evolution and meaning of the con-cept of environmental security and the relationship between domestic and international environmental securityissues; the ways in which environmental security is perceived in different countries; the impact of environmen-tal changes on the probability of conflict and cooperation at the national and international levels; the contribu-tion of environmental security to the definition of new foreign and security policies; policies for the manage-ment of shared resources and the consequences of these policies; the links between armed conflicts and theintegrity of natural ecosystems; organizational and legal mechanisms that enhance environmental security; andphilosophical issues involving environmental security and other human values such as equity and social andeconomic development. This new journal tries to build on a new approach to environmental questions and todeal with their social, political and economic implications by linking the approaches of the natural and socialsciences.


“Environmental Security: Issues of Conflict and Redefinitions” by Geoffrey D. Dabelko and David D. Dabelko

“Definitions, Threats, and Pyramids: The Changing Faces of Security” by Michael J. Edwards

“The Tumen River Economic Development Area: Environmental Challenge for Northeast Asia” by Victor Loksha

Environmental Change as a Source of Conflict: More Work Needed” by Jim MacNeill

“Water Scarcity: A Threat to Global Security” by Ashok Swain


“Armed Conflict and Environmental Security: An Overview”by Arthur Westing”

“Protected Areas (Nature Reserves) and Biodiversity During Armed Conflict” by Jeffrey A. McNeely

“The Laws of War and the Protection of the Environment” by J. Ashley Roach

“Reconstruction and Development Following Armed Conflict: The Case of Eritrea” by Naigzy Gebremedhin

“Land Mines: Dealing with the Environmental Impact” by Jody Williams

“Nuclear Weapons Tests, Arms Control, and the Environment: The 1995 World Court Case and Beyond” by Nico J. Schrijver

To subscribe, contact: The International Institute for Environmental Strategies and Security, GERPE, EdificeJean-Durand, Université Laval, Québec City, Québec, G1X 7P4, Canada. Tel: 418-656-2316; Fax: 418-656-7908; E-mail: [email protected].


Wilson Center Meetings

In November 1994, the Wilson Center inaugurated a series of monthly luncheon meetings on environment, population,security and global relations, consisting of experts from academia, Congress, government, the military, non-governmentalorganizations, and the private sector. Below are detailed summaries from nine of the 1996 sessions, including presentationsand selected comments.

10 April 1996

Mock NSC BriefingEnvironment and U.S. National Security Interests:

Newly Independent States and Central and Eastern Europe

PURPOSE/FORMAT: This meeting was one in a series to explore how environmental issues might relate to U.S.security interests in specific geographic regions. The “Mock NSC” format was used in an attempt to bridge thegap that is created when environmentalists and traditional security thinkers wrestle with the question of how(or whether) to integrate environmental issues into national security decision-making. In each meeting thechairperson (the “National Security Advisor”) heard two short, briefings on the security setting in a particularregion—one from an environmental perspective and the other from a more traditional security perspective. The“traditionalist” outlined U.S. security priorities in the region, integrating any environmental issues he believedwere important; the ”environmentalists” outlined the environmental/demographic issues that will bear signifi-cantly on U.S. security interests. In this session on Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union,Zbigniew Brzezinski played the “National Security Advisor.” The “traditionalist” briefings were given by Rob-ert Hutchings (Central and Eastern Europe) and Stephen Flanagan (former Soviet Union). The “environmental-ist” briefings were given by David Sandalow (Central and Eastern Europe) and William Nitze (former SovietUnion).

“Traditionalist” briefing by Robert Hutchings: Integration versus disintegration is the key issue for Europeand Eurasia. The question is whether the forces of integration, prosperity, stability and security in WesternEurope can be extended eastward to encompass much of the formerly Communist world or whether the forcesof fragmentation now on the loose in the East will overwhelm the self-confidence, cohesion and ultimately theinstitutions binding the Western democracies.


Two vital American interests are at stake. The first is the maintenance of a stable, democratic, prosperousEurope, which is essential to our future. The second interest is to prevent the emergence of a hostile power or acoalition of powers capable of threatening us or our allies. The countries of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE)sit at the crossroads of these two vital American interests.

Let me draw two contrasting scenarios to illustrate what this means. In the first scenario, Russia does notrevert to authoritarianism after the June elections but rather continues on the path of democratizing reform. Afollow-up force in the Balkans after the United States withdraws will be effectively in place. At its intergovern-mental conference this summer, the European Union (EU) will set a timetable for admission of the CentralEuropean countries; the Atlantic Alliance is following a similar course. One can imagine under this scenariothat the Central European countries continue to make steady progress toward stable democracy while the Balkansfollow, even if at a slower pace.

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI, Counselor, Center for Strategic and International StudiesSTEPHEN FLANAGAN, National Intelligence Officer for Europe, National Intelligence Council;

ROBERT HUTCHINGS, Director of International Studies, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars;WILLIAM NITZE, Assistant Administrator for International Activities, Environmental Protection Agency;

DAVID SANDALOW, NSC Director for Global Environmental Affairs


Wilson Center Meetings

In the second scenario, Russia does revert to au-thoritarian rule. It begins intimidating its neighbors inthe “near abroad” and threatens countries more dis-tant. In the Balkans, after the withdrawal of U.S. troopsfrom the United Nations Intervention Force (UNIFOR),a wider Balkan conflict begins to develop, envelopingother states in the region. Under these circumstances,the European Union may not be inclined to take onnew members. The result of this scenario could be onein which after all the hopes of the democratic revolu-tions of 1989, only the Czech Republic and Sloveniawill emerge as stable and secure democracies. All theothers—from the Baltic Sea to the Balkans—would bemired in some sort of semi-authoritarianism, subjectto chronic regional conflict and nationalistic impulses.Russia meanwhile would incorporate forcibly or semi-voluntarily much of the territory of the former USSR.


It is worth noting that it is beyond our capacity toinfluence some of the determinants of these two sce-narios. The proper orientation for U.S. policy is to fo-cus on those elements—those determining factors—over which we do have some significant influence.First, we should expand economic assistance to Cen-tral and Eastern Europe and try to integrate these coun-tries more rapidly into Western institutions. The Euro-pean Union should take the lead, and it should set adate for accession by some Central European members.Even if that date is some years distant, the processshould begin now. NATO enlargement should alsoproceed—perhaps a step behind EU initiatives—so thatthe two processes are kept in harmony. During thistransition we should also support regional and sub-regional cooperation in tangible, not just rhetorical,ways. The most critical area is the Balkans. What isessential there is a Southeast European initiative to fol-low the withdrawal of U.S. forces from the former Yu-goslavia. This initiative should involve all of the inter-ested countries in a larger post-war strategy.

The United States should also promote a transat-lantic free trade area. Although this would require fouror five years of negotiation, it has several economic andpolitical advantages. Qualified Central European coun-tries should be full participants in negotiations fromday one.

Environmental issues are interwoven with all ofthese issues. Environmental issues affect regional re-lations, the domestic economies and cooperation withthe West. They cannot and should not be segregatedfrom this larger strategic package. A possible excep-tion is nuclear reactor safety, which is one area wherethere is a danger of posing a major security threat. Buteven there, the effort to address issues of nuclear reac-tor safety should be embedded in a larger strategic planof reducing and diversifying the dependence on either

nuclear reactors or Russian energy supplies.Otherwise, Western environmental assistance has

been sound and sensible. There is a coordinated strat-egy embedded in an Environmental Action Plan thatwas signed in Spring 1993 in which the United Statesand all of Europe, including CEE and the NIS, estab-lished a set of realistic priorities and common goals.The United States is devoting a substantial share—around 100 million dollars—of its economic assistanceto environmental remediation. But the real resourcesare going to have to come from within these countriesthemselves. That is why U.S. assistance is focused onpromoting economic growth so that the Central andEastern European countries can develop the capacityto solve environmental problems on their own.

Environmental issues themselves are not likely tobe a source of conflict in the region. They could, how-ever, be an important source of cooperation. Withinexisting budgets we could do more to foster regionalenvironmental cooperation. Transnational programscan promote integration into the larger Europeansphere. These strategies can be part of a long-term,sustained effort to support post-communist transitionin Central and Eastern Europe and across Eurasia. Thisis a process on which the future of Europe and our ownvital interests depends.

“Environmentalist” briefing by David Sandalow: Theperspective of an environmental scientist is unusual foran NSC briefing. Were such a person with us today, heor she might note that alliances between states havebeen shifting and changing for centuries and will surelycontinue to do so for the indefinite future. The scien-tist might wonder, therefore, why so many talentedpeople become so absorbed in discussing particularshifts and changes in these alliances over the course ofrelatively short periods of time, like years or decades.This environmental scientist might ask whether it mightbe more interesting, and ultimately more important, toconsider something happening in our lifetime that is aunique and utterly unprecedented feature of our time—the ability of one species to alter the planet’s physicalcharacteristics.


The recent population explosion is one example ofthe unprecedented ability of man to affect the Earth. Ittook 200,000 years, about 10,000 generations, for theworld population to reach two billion people. Withinthe last 50 years, population has grown by more thantwo billion. If the trends continue, by the next centurythere will be more than nine billion people on thisplanet.

The technological revolution is another exampleof man’s ability to affect the earth. Two examples sup-port this statement. Since the beginning of history, we


believe that humans have engaged in violent conflict.Only within the last half century, however, have thetools of war threatened wide-scale destruction of theworld. Also since the beginning of history, mankindhas exploited the earth for sustenance. It is one thingto fish for food, however, and another to trawl theoceans with industrial driftnets capable of destroyingvast ocean fisheries in a single decade. The earth’s re-sources are becoming depleted.

When considering these unprecedented develop-ments, the environmental scientist realizes that man-aging these threats depends upon the foreign policyprofessionals. That is because many of the environ-mental problems that mankind has created are globalin scope. Cooperation among sovereign states is es-sential if these issues are to be addressed. Problemslike ozone depletion, climate change, the loss ofbiodiversity and the depletion of fisheries have con-siderable global implications. These are global prob-lems that require global solutions.


I will discuss four global environmental threats,their potential impact on the United States and theimportance of these threats to the countries of Centraland Eastern Europe.

The first environmental threat is ozone depletion.The ozone layer is threatened by the release of CFCsand other gases. The potential impacts of ozone layerdepletion include skin cancer, cataracts and ecologicaldamage. The nations of Central Europe were construc-tive participants in the international arrangements tophase out ozone depleting chemicals.

The second global threat is climate change. It iswell established that human activities, principally theburning of fossil fuel, are causing greenhouse gases toaccumulate in our atmosphere at levels well above his-toric concentrations. It is also well established that glo-bal average temperatures have risen in the past cen-tury. The potential impacts in the United States of thebuild-up of greenhouse gases include heat waves orsevere and frequent storms, more droughts and floodsand the spread of diseases. At least for now, greenhousegas emissions from Central Europe are not a majorproblem. The economic decline of the early 1990s ledto marked declines in greenhouse gas emissions andas a result it appears likely that Central European coun-tries will meet the international agreements for limit-ing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year2000. The challenge will be to control greenhouse gasemissions in the decades ahead.

The third global threat is the loss of biodiversity.Scientists believe that we are witnessing the greatestloss of biodiversity since the dinosaurs went extinct 65million years ago. Unlike in the tropics, the loss ofbiodiversity in Central Europe is not a major issue.

The final issue I would like to address is fisheries.While many foreign policy professionals tend to dis-count the importance of fish resources, countries morefrequently and easily go to war over fish than they doover microchips. Spain and Canada were at the edgeof hostilities over this issue in recent years. No majorfisheries issues exist at this time in Central Europeancountries.



In examining local and regional concerns, the pic-ture is much bleaker. Central and Eastern Europe hasexperienced some of the worst local pollution ever en-countered on the planet. Most notable is the “PollutedTriangle” in Poland, the Czech Republic and Germany.Around the entire region, health professionals havefound elevated levels of disease, especially in children.Dr. Brzezinski, as the “National Security Advisor” youare entitled to ask, and may be wondering, whetherlocal and regional pollution problems in the CEE andelsewhere are a security concern for the United States.I would say that they are for four reasons.

The first is that addressing local pollution is a firststep to addressing global issues. It is not plausible thatcountries will take on global environmental challengesunless they first address local problems.

Second, addressing local problems can contributeto U.S. economic security. Put simply, the environmen-tal market in Central Europe is enormous. Controllingcurrent pollution will require a vast amount of money.The German government estimates that investment inpollution control in the former East Germany alone willrequire 14 billion dollars per year over the course ofthe next decade. Finding resources of that magnitudewill take many years. But as these economies rebuildand increasingly have foreign exchange available, theirpotential market for U.S. exports is staggering.

A third reason is that addressing local pollutionproblems can help prevent instability and conflict. Thenotion that environmental and resource degradationmay play a role in conflict is probably more controver-sial today than it has been historically. Thirty yearsago, Dean Rusk said that one of the oldest causes ofwar in the history of the human race is the pressure ofpeoples upon resources. Today, there has been veryuseful research done by Thomas Homer-Dixon andothers to look empirically at this environmental stressthat creates conflict. However, I am not going to dwellon it because I do not see that environmental stressesare currently a significant cause for promoting insta-bility in Central Europe.

Finally, addressing local pollution problems can bea tool for deepening cooperation between our societiesand ultimately for the exercise of American authority.I believe that by working with other people from

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around the world to protect their environment andours, we can build bridges between our societies andopen the dialogue to be able to develop some policies.

“Traditionalist” Briefing by Steve Flanagan: The en-tire “NSC” staff has arrived at the conclusion that weneed to take into greater account some environmentalissues as part of our national security strategy. Thethree following problems address not only environmen-tal issues, but legitimate and enduring national secu-rity challenges as well.



The first concern addresses the cooperative threatreduction program that is already underway in thecurrent Administration—the efforts to clean-up thelegacy of the Soviet nuclear weapons program. Thesecond reflects U.S. efforts to ensure the developmentof alternative oil routes out of the Caspian region andthe development of alternative pipelines elsewhere inEurope. These improvements will both stave off fu-ture environmental disasters and enhance energy se-curity for the United States and for Western and Cen-tral and Eastern Europe. Finally, the United Statesshould encourage a greater cooperation among theCEE, Russia and the NIS states to overcome the com-mon legacy of the Soviet army’s occupation, the legacyof poor Soviet technology and the waste generated byall of those activities.


The Russian Federation remains a shadow of theformer Soviet Union. Yet, it remains the one countryon earth that can still threaten our existence. In thatcontext, it is imperative that we continue to press alongwith some of the traditional agenda on arms controland confidence building in the security area. What-ever Russian government emerges, problems with com-pliance to existing arms control arrangements will re-main. If the United States can continue to successfullypress the Russians on these issues and achieve fullimplementation of the agreements, we will reduce thenuclear threat. As our security situation improves, theenvironmental picture in the former Soviet Union willalso brighten.

Our second interest is to ensure that there is no onedominant or hegemonic power within Europe. Thereare at least some members of the current Russian gov-ernment who seek to reestablish, if not the Soviet Union,then certainly a new Slavic union of states closely linkedto and perhaps subservient to Russia. So it is impera-tive that we continue to provide Russia with a role in anew type of European security—one that provides fora fair amount of protection to the sovereignty and in-

dependence of CEE and NIS states. The role must showRussia that the re-division of Europe into spheres ofinfluence is not the only way to proceed and protect itsinterests, but rather that by being a player with us inmanaging peace and promoting stability in Europe andelsewhere, it can respect the sovereignty and indepen-dence of these states.

It is also imperative that we pay increasing atten-tion to bolstering those states of the NIS as they facecontinuing pressures from Russia towards integration.We certainly should not oppose mutually beneficialeconomic integration and political cooperation amongthe NIS, but we must be steadfast in resisting effortsby Russia to use various levers that it has, includingenergy dependence and debt, to pressure these statesinto a new kind of political and security relationship.

As we look down into the Caucasus, some realopportunities exist to both advance our security agendain the region—that is to help strengthen those coun-tries as they resist efforts towards integration withRussia—and at the same time enhance our own energysecurity. The oil and natural gas resources found inthe Caspian basin are enormous. Maintaining our fu-ture access to those resources and ensuring that thereare multiple pipelines out of the Caspian basin remainsa critical national security objective. Countries such asTurkey are worried about an environmental disaster,such as an oil spill, in the Black Sea. U.S. involvementin developing this region would not only help to buildaccess to these oil supplies, but also help to offset someof Turkey’s concerns.

In the area of cooperative threat reduction, thisAdministration has made great strides by putting insafe and secure storage the enormous amount of spentfuel and other nuclear materials that could pose bothenvironmental and security hazards. Much more needsto be done, but the continuation and invigoration ofthis program over the course of the next several yearscan be very clearly earmarked as not only a nationalsecurity measure but also one that enhances the over-all European environmental security situation. Addi-tionally, we have helped a number of the countries inCentral Europe by cleaning up bases that the Sovietsleft behind in a terribly degraded environmental state.The efforts to continue those programs will remain animportant part of the strategy that deals with these twinchallenges of addressing both environmental and na-tional security issues.

With the approach of the Moscow nuclear summit,one other initiative creates an opportunity. Anothercommon legacy that many of the states in the CEE,Russia and the NIS share is the legacy of Russiannuclear technology. We must encourage Russian co-operation with Central and Eastern Europe and the NISto put these nuclear power plants into safe operatingconditions and to ensure that the materials from themand other hazards that they pose are indeed disposed


of in an effective fashion.

“Environmentalist” Briefing by William Nitze: I willdiscuss the current and future activities that the EPAhas planned in the Russian Federation.


As you have already heard, the legacy of Commu-nist rule in the former Soviet Union is probably thegreatest environmental disaster in history. Radioactivechemicals and other forms of pollution have contrib-uted to reduced birth rates, higher death rates, congeni-tal abnormalities in children, various diseases and, gen-erally, a degraded quality of life for a major portion ofthe Russian population. And yet, there is hope. Wealready have evidence that relatively cost-effectivemeasures to reduce the amount of pollution at the lo-cal level can lead to improvements in the quality of life.

Furthermore, we believe that carefully targeted,selected interventions by U.S. government agencies,which directly improve the quality of life of Russiancitizens at the local level, can help to build confidenceand hope about their own abilities to build a better fu-ture for themselves and their children.

I will briefly describe four projects managed by theEPA to illustrate my point about early targeted inter-vention.

The first is an integrated resource planning projectwith Mosenerdo, the big electric utility in Moscow. EPAhelped engineer Mosenerdo’s entry into the Westerncapital markets through a private stock placement withSolomon Brothers. This stock placement yielded 22.5million dollars. Through this placement, Mosenerdois one of the first Russian companies that U.S. mutualfunds can purchase. Mosenerdo now has plans to in-stall gas turbines at one of its facilities which will pro-duce more efficient power and the same or less pollu-tion.

The second project is an air quality managementproject in Volgograd. This project has already led sev-eral Volgograd factories to reduce air emissions byimplementing the low cost recommendations devel-oped during audits by EPA. Savings on materials andother costs have led to greater efficiency and greatereconomic stability in the city. The city is already be-ginning to introduce air management techniques suchas improved dispersion models and emissions testingthat will lead to better management of this environ-mental problem sometime in the future.

The third project is an industrial pollution project.The installation of recycling equipment in a metal fin-ishing plant cut nickel discharges by an estimated 35%.It saved the plant the cost of that nickel and allowedthe plant to meet environmental standards.

Finally, we have a Moscow drinking water projectwhich involves containment structures that handle

animal wastes at the Kursakovo hog farm located westof Moscow. If you go to Moscow, do not drink the tapwater, especially in the spring when floods and wash-outs pour such wastes into the drinking water supply.If we are successful with the approach that we havetaken in this water district, then all of Moscow’s waterin the future will be potable.


Those are just four examples. The EPA has plansto work on sustainable research management, particu-larly in energy and forestry areas, so that U.S. privateinvestment would achieve immediate, improved envi-ronmental performance. We are focusing on collabo-ration with Russia on global issues such as climatechange and ozone depletion. Finally, there is an inter-agency project focusing on radioactive waste manage-ment in northwest Russia. We have a project to up-grade a reprocessing facility in Murmansk which willhelp both the civilian and naval authorities to managetheir wastes.

Opening Remarks by Chairman, ZbigniewBrzezinski: Policy recommendations for the Presidentmust bear on the national interest—which in this set-ting principally involves issues pertaining to nationalsecurity. One purpose of this exercise is to identify howenvironmental issues pose problems or genuine threatsto national security. However, the concept of nationalinterest is broader than national security, as it also en-compasses national well-being. Thus, participants intoday’s meeting might wish to discuss which of theseproblems bears on the national well-being of the Ameri-can people and how we should respond to such is-sues—even if they are not primary threats to nationalsecurity. In the discussion, participants should iden-tify which of the foregoing also involve relatively shortterm threats that will need Presidential attention in thenext three years. Longer-term issues that may pose veryserious threats to future generations should also beidentified. One might best proceed by differentiatingbetween short-term threats to national security, short-term threats to national well-being, longer range threatsto national security and longer range threats to nationalwell-being. Beyond that, deliberations in a NationalSecurity Council setting should consider whether theissues in question impact very significantly any of theUnited States’ principal allies or friends. There may besome circumstances in which a particular concern onlyposes a problem to the United States in the long termbut presents a more immediate security threat to oneof our allies. Such distinctions will help the group toaddress one of the tasks of this exercise, which is de-veloping priorities for advising the President.

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Comment: When assessing threats and establishingpriorities, one might also consider the timing of theonset of the threat, the duration of the threat, and thepotential seriousness of the its consequences. Thosefactors might be evaluated using a grid that assessesthe seriousness of a range of threats—both environmen-tal and traditional.

Comment: A result of latent environmental disastersin the FSU and in CEE would be very large populationmovements. Such movements, arising from a nucleardisaster or from perceptions that death rates are risingquickly, could be destabilizing in some areas. In thelonger term, energy issues should be a primary con-cern; in the immediate term, the NSC should focus onpreventing a rekindling of Cold War antagonisms.

Comment: We should examine the range of problemsand determine which U.S. priorities coincide with thoseof the FSU and CEE. We should also identify the pri-orities that, if addressed, might enhance efforts to builddemocracy in the region. Institutions building, for ex-ample, could improve both the environmental situa-tion and strengthen democracies. Another top prior-ity should be to correct energy pricing and remove ar-tificial barriers to market entry. The result would bereductions in pollution, fossil fuel use and waste.

Hutchings: The more advanced countries of the CEEwill be in a better position than the NIS to implementenvironmental solutions in the years ahead. Both Ger-many and the United States have strong commercialinterests in the region, and should mobilize a Westernconsensus around action in this field. I strongly sug-gest that we build upon our already shared attitudetoward EU and NATO enlargement to galvanize greaterWestern activity on the environment.

Brzezinski: The added advantage is that some envi-ronmental activities might stimulate regional coopera-tion—which is a key geopolitical objective throughoutthe region. Are there any short-term environmentalproblems that pose a security threat to the UnitedStates?

Comment: One important issue is a vestige of the ColdWar: the safe and secure management of the formerSoviet Union nuclear weapons and strategic forces.

Brzezinski: Is the nature of the threat that the weap-ons or materials can be stolen or restored and then usedagainst us? That would be a conventional type of threat,so can you explain what new national security threatsin the short term arise from the associated environmen-tal problems?

Comment: Issues involving radioactive waste and ra-dioactivity are more serious than most people appreci-ate. For instance, the Murmansk peninsula in theformer Soviet Union has the greatest number of nuclearfacilities in the world per square kilometer. This causesnot only a direct threat to our allies, but also a threat toAlaska if the radioactivity travels by water. Unsafenuclear facilities should be shut down, and the UnitedStates should help to provide the means for alternativeenergy supplies. Chemicals issues are also more seri-ous than most people believe. In addition to the po-tential for chemical warfare, dangerous chemicals arereleased from the burning of fossil fuel. Russia’s airpollutants may not affect us directly; but the resultingpyrenes, dioxins and bi-carbons do affect the UnitedStates directly. Neighboring countries are also threat-ened by the legacy of chemical weapons dumping inthe Baltic Sea and other shallow waters; the weaponshave either dissolved or hydrolyzed, so they posethreats to about 10 countries in the region. In the BlackSea, hydrogen sulfide in the water is increasing morethan three meters per year; while it was 450 metersbelow the surface 30 years ago, hydrogen sulfide is nowonly 50 meters below the surface. If it encounters airand ignites—as it did in Lake Neosenchada—therewould be hundreds of thousands of deaths, possiblyincluding citizens in Turkey and other NATO alliedcountries.

Brzezinski: Many threats mentioned thus far are longerrange threats, rather than direct ones. They will con-tribute to the general degradation of life and, thus, tothe deterioration of American and other nations’ well-being.

Comment: These threats are beginning to accumulate.If only one or two of these longer term threats wereprobable, there might be less of a concern. But whenthere are more than a dozen, and if they are growingand converging, there should be greater attention tothem in the short-term.

Brzezinski: In advising the President, it is necessaryto identify which problems to tackle first; which onesto address with others; and which ones are to handlewith the international community as a whole. Theseare some additional criteria to bear in mind.

Comment: There are classic problems that are long-term in their impact but require short-term policy at-tention. The scientific consensus is that global warm-ing is a serious problem, principally man-made, thatwill have serious impacts for most nations—especiallycoastal states. There is tremendous momentum behindclimatic change, and policy choices must be made soonif we are to affect change in the long-term. These kindsof problems have not been addressed in a conventional

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national security sense, but some ought to be.

Comment: I would like the presenters to commentmore on a particular short-term security risk. TheUnited States has a clear short-term interest in avoid-ing a return to authoritarian government in the Rus-sian Republic. Mr. Nitze suggested that the environ-ment was an important quality of life issue that couldaffect Russian voters and the political system. I amcurious to hear him and others elaborate on that point.

Nitze: In the short-term, the environment probably willnot have a strong, direct influence on the political sys-tem. The average Russian voter does not understandthe connection between environmental degradationand health and economic well being. Much more im-portant in the voters’ minds at present are concernsabout national pride, being exploited or humiliated byforeigners, etc. But as awareness grows about the linksbetween environment, health and well being, the po-litical impact will be much more significant.

Comment: Regarding priorities, I think that CentralEurope should be higher on the list than Russia. Cen-tral Europe is manageable, the prospects for successare greater and the costs are lower.

Comment: That kind of a prioritization is dangerous,especially given the geostrategic importance of Russiato the United States. It would be helpful, however, toidentify more clearly the links between environmentaldegradation and health. The health situation in Rus-sia is unprecedented. Life expectancy has declined forfour successive years, with male life expectancy downto 57 years. It is, of course, hard to assign the exactproportionate responsibility on environmental degra-dation. But it is clear that the degradation in waterquality, in air quality and the breakdown in the publichealth system and sanitation is partly to blame. Whena country faces such a dramatic deterioration in thehealth of its citizens, there could be serious effect on itsstability and the permanence of its political structure.

Brzezinski: Would it be your view that if Russia adoptsforeign policies which are hostile to American foreigninterests, the United States should still pursue a policyof upgrading the Russians’ quality of life?

Comment: I think it is in our interests regardless ofRussia’s foreign policy because we are probably deal-ing with a desperate population. The decline in lifeexpectancy is being accompanied by greater incidenceof sickness while people are still alive.

Comment: Our interests are in a relatively stable andsatisfied Russia. So, it is in our interest to take somemodest steps to help them deal with some of these en-

vironment-related, public health problems in order tointroduce more stability in that situation—regardlessof who gets elected.

Comment: In some countries, our environmental as-sistance is helping both to improve the quality of lifeand to foster pluralism. Let us take an example fromBratislava, Slovakia. In Slovakia, the development ofa stable democracy is being threatened by people likeMeciar. But U.S. environmental assistance and NGOactivities are helping the Slovaks to better organize ina pluralist fashion.

Brzezinski: Investments in environmental quality toimprove the quality of life in Central Europe may be aworthy goal for philanthropic reasons, but the nexusbetween environment and other foreign policy and se-curity exigencies remains unconvincing. The situationis different, however, in China and Russia: both aremajor powers capable of conducting foreign policiesthat are antithetical to U.S. interests. This group mightconsider whether there should be a connection betweenforeign policy and all its concerns and a desire to im-prove the quality of life. It does not follow automati-cally that a frustrated public is necessarily to the U.S.disadvantage; nor does it necessarily follow that ahappy, health and satisfied public is to the U.S. advan-tage.

Comment: In Russia and China, no environmentalimprovement can occur until there is improved capac-ity for public accountability. The NGOs that exist andenvironmental issues that dominate must currentlypass through the filter of an authoritarian govern-ment—which by its nature is secretive.

Comment: If I read the political science literature cor-rectly, the percent of the public supporting an activerole in international and foreign affairs is about five toseven percent. If you look at the percent of the publicsupporting environmental initiatives, it is significantlygreater. It would very interesting to link the two inorder to recruit a large, new population concerned withinternational issues. With regard to short-term issues,we should consider environmental threats associatedwith land mines and other conventional weapons.


Brzezinski: With the remaining time, I would like toask the four presenters to attempt an initialprioritization from their various perspectives.

Hutchings: The first priority may be to secure morefunding, as the total amount of aid being offered istrivial compared to the problems at hand. Fundingmust go beyond specific attempts at environmental

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remediation, and should extend to things like modelprograms and the transfer of technology and informa-tion. With the agreement of all the environmental min-isters and their governments across this entire region,there is an existing set of priorities to pursue. Achiev-ing these priorities will have the added advantage ofbringing these countries closer to international norms—especially EU standards, which is a desirable goal bythe United States and CEE. It would also extend thedemocratic community of nations closer to Russia.

Sandalow: I agree and would like to make two addi-tional points. With respect to prioritization and timeframes, any policymaker must of course prioritize. Andit is natural and inevitable that policymakers will lookto the immediacy of the threat as a basis forprioritization. But given the enormous mismatch be-tween political timescales and natural timescales on theissues, it is a challenge for environmentalists to con-vince other policymakers to take action. Gettingpolicymakers and the public to pay attention to impor-tant issues which do not pose any immediate politicalpressure poses an enormous challenge.

Brzezinski: Your argument may convince others thatthe National Security Council may not be the appro-priate forum for deciding these issues. To some, Con-gress might be more suited to the task; after all, it issupposed to have a long perspective, given its Consti-tutional mandate and legislative responsibilities.

Sandalow: I am not impressed by Congress’s abilityto look far into the future. I think the National Secu-rity Council must deal with these issues because theyinvolve relations between sovereign states.

Brzezinski: But those arguments alone may not cap-ture the National Security Council’s attention.

Sandalow: One additional point: earlier you noted thatRussia and China exert more influence over U.S. inter-ests through their foreign policies than the CentralEuropeans. With regard to global environmentalchange, it is worth noting that many countries—no mat-ter how small or weak—have the potential to do dam-age to the global environment than larger countries.A smokestack in the Czech republic has as much im-pact on climate change as a smokestack in China.

Brzezinski: The point is well taken, but it does notexplain why these issues need to be addressed at thePresident’s table. Merely telling him the problem isserious is the beginning of his education—but beyondthat, he must make some decisions. So what should hedo? On what issues should he focus? One of the speak-ers argued in favor of differentiating in terms of geo-graphical frameworks. That might work. One might

differentiate in terms of the magnitude of the threat,but that does not solve the timeframe problems. Onemust also consider the compatibility between these ini-tiatives and other foreign policy objectives. For ex-ample, if we want to promote the integration of Cen-tral Europe with Western Europe, the United States canengage in efforts that facilitate those nations workingtogether. If we want to stabilize relationships betweenRussia and the NIS, we can create institutions in whichall actors partake on an equal basis, addressing sharedproblems in consort. In other words, what other nexiexist between the environmental initiatives and strate-gic foreign policy objectives, given the setting in whichwe are operating?

Flanagan: Perhaps the key issue is deciding where andhow to target U.S. assistance—and in so doing we canwork very closely with EU countries. We might targetsome high visibility demonstration projects, particu-larly those where there is a pan-European dimension.Such projects would impress upon Russia and the NISthat there are ways to achieve environmental solutionscooperatively; in addition, they would instill a senseof hope in key areas that might be infectious. The long-term work must be done by the countries themselves,but such examples would certainly help.

Brzezinski: Which items would you particularly em-phasize to instill hope?

Flanagan: For example, in Latvia or Bulgaria, we canhelp to create and implement a cooperative programto either encase or make safer the Russian-style reac-tors. We could begin working on a multinational con-sortium somewhere in the Ukraine or elsewhere in theNIS to show other states that they have common inter-ests and that cooperative projects work. Hopefully, thiswill reinforce the notion that they must act together.

Nitze: Here are three top priorities: (1) there must beproper management of radioactive and chemical ma-terials—especially in cases where materials could bemisused militarily or could seriously degrade the glo-bal environment; (2) we should focus on proper man-agement of global environmental changes—particu-larly climate change and biodiversity—where the U.S.cannot achieve its objectives without other countries’cooperation; (3) we should try to influence the behav-ior of potentially adversarial nations through environ-mental initiatives.

Comment: From the DOD perspective, I have threepriorities for the National Security Advisor and for thePresident. (1) In the broadest sense, we should urgethe President to use his office as a bully pulpit to broad-cast the importance of these global issues—recogniz-ing fully well that there are not very many short-term

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national security threats to the United States posed byglobal environmental challenges. Because these prob-lems will have to be faced by future generations, thePresident can use his office to help mobilize publicopinion even when U.S. dollars are not expected to bethe primary means to address the issues. (2) The U.S.can and should integrate into its foreign policy and itsnational security strategies in CEE the idea that envi-ronmental projects can be used to promote stability anddemocracy in those countries in a way that assists theirintegration into the EU and community of free democ-racies. There are already examples of military projectshelping to build capacity among CEE and NIS militar-ies through technology, training and technical assis-tance. These projects are helping, for example, to cleanup the former Warsaw Pact bases which are degradingtheir countries and limiting their ability to use the basesproductively for economic growth. (3) Some of theenvironmental threats discussed today, while not short-term national security threats to the United States, dopose to some of our allies threats that they consider tobe short-term (zero to ten years) in nature. A good ex-ample is Norway, which believes that the Russian man-agement of its decommissioned submarines atMurmansk poses a threat to Norway’s security andeconomy. This is because of the inability of the Rus-sians to safely manage the nuclear waste products thatare potentially threatening the fishing fleet—a large partof Norway’s economy. In those instances, I believe wecan make a modest effort to collaborate with othercountries. We have the ability as a superpower to in-fluence the Russian military to improve its environ-ment—and are probably the only country capable ofso doing. To the extent that militaries are part of theenvironmental problem—and can be reformed in soci-eties for long-term benefit—such modest efforts can goa long way.

Brzezinski: We also have to address a domestic dimen-sion of this—that is, to identify groups, constituenciesand lobbies that might have a special interest in theseissues. This means taking into account the interests ofseveral communities while also considering certainfundamental values that are potentially at stake. Iwould like to close on a more general point. About 20years ago, the United States started deliberately iden-tifying itself with the cause of human rights. We oftensaid to the world that human rights is an historical in-evitability of our time. This was a meaningful responseto the challenge posed by Communism, which pro-jected itself as the inevitable revolution and as a chal-lenge to human rights. That cause fortified the UnitedStates very effectively in the last phase of the great com-petition in the Cold War world. The time may havecome for the United States also to carry forward thecause of human life. Human life is a vital cause, andthe United States—as the most innovative and creative

society in the world with the most enduring and vitaldemocracy—is well poised to promote it, having alsobeen successful in promoting human rights. The UnitedStates still must pursue geopolitical objectives, some-times in a cold-hearted and brutal fashion. But if Ameri-can foreign policy incorporates goals connected withpromoting human life, it might be infused with a newsense of mission and attractiveness. This might alsoallow certain national interests to be framed in morepositive terms, rather than in a strictly competitive andcold-hearted sense. In light of this discussion, perhapsthe time is ripe for the President to say that the UnitedStates is identified with the cause of human life.

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7 May 1996

Environmental Warfare: Manipulating theEnvironment for Hostile Purposes


Westing Associates in Environment, Security, and Education

Warfare (armed conflict) inevitably results not only in death and destruction, but also in environmentaldisruption. Most of such environmental disruption is an incidental (collateral) outcome of military actions.Moreover, warfare can in some ways even have environmentally beneficial effects of an incidental nature. How-ever, I am not dealing here in the first instance with either of those incidental environmental components ofwarfare. What I do wish to examine at this time is the deliberate manipulation of one component or another ofthe environment for hostile purposes. Although the intent of such deliberate manipulations is to weaken anenemy force, either directly or indirectly, environmental disruption is of course likely to be an added intentionalor incidental outcome.

I should also explain at the outset that the notion of “environment” as employed here includes both thenatural environment (of which precious little remains in the world) and the environment as re-arranged andadded to by human actions, thus including for present purposes especially such semi-permanent features of thelandscape as major dams, nuclear power stations, and certain industrial facilities.

My presentation is essentially in two parts: first I examine deliberate environmental manipulations duringwartime, based on past examples and future possibilities or fantasies; and second, I examine existing constraintson such manipulations, both legal and cultural, as well as their usefulness.


Deliberate environmental manipulations during wartime fall into two broad (and perhaps somewhat over-lapping) categories: (1) those that involve massive and extended applications of disruptive techniques; and (2)those that involve relatively small disruptive actions which in turn release relatively large amounts of disrup-tive energy, so-called “dangerous forces”, or become self-generating. The first of these approaches would bysome be considered a “crude” form of environmental warfare, the latter a more “elegant” form.

Moreover, intentional hostile disruption of the environment could, at least in principle, involve manipula-tions of any of the five following environmental domains: (1) the biota (flora and fauna); (2) the land (includingfresh waters); (3) the ocean; (4) the atmosphere; and (5) the celestial bodies and space. I shall discuss, at leastbriefly, each of these five environmental domains in turn.

The biota (flora and fauna): In round numbers, the land surface of the globe is covered by perhaps 95␣ mil-lion square kilometers of vegetation and associated animal life: some 15␣ million of cropland (both annual andperennial); 40␣ million of tree-based (forest) ecosystems; 30␣ million of grass-based (prairie) ecosystems; and 10␣ mil-lion of lichen-based (tundra) ecosystems. And the ocean supports additional huge expanses of alga-based (ma-rine) ecosystems.

It is often readily possible to alter portions of those several biotic components of the environment for hostilepurposes in one or more ways, among them especially: (a) by applying chemical poisons (herbicides) more orless massively; (b) by contamination with radioactive isotopes, originating, for example, from nuclear weaponsor nuclear power stations; (c) by explosive or other mechanical means, applied either massively or more selec-tively for the release of dangerous forces; (d) by incendiary means, perhaps with subsequent self-generating

This text is adapted from a presentation delivered at the Woodrow Wilson Center on 7 May 1996. Arthur Westing is theauthor of numerous books and articles on war and the environment, including Environmental Warfare (1984) and Cul-tural Norms, War and the Environment (1988).


propagation; and (e) by introducing exotic living or-ganisms, including microörganisms, which might wellspread.

As one well known example of warfare involvingintentional large-scale damage to the terrestrial biota,forest ecosystems were devastated by the United Statesduring the Second Indochina War [Viet Nam Conflict]of 1961-1975. The disruption was accomplished by re-peated, widespread applications of herbicides, by mas-sive bombing, by the extensive use of large tractors,and—to a lesser extent—by fire, most of it concentratedin Viet Nam, but some of it also occurring in Cambo-dia and Laos. Killing of the flora led to a decimation ofthe wildlife, to soil erosion, and to disturbance of thenutrient balance. Substantial recovery of the affectedecosystems has, depending upon their type, been tak-ing years to decades. Grassland and tundra ecosys-tems are similarly vulnerable to attack by such means.

As to other approaches, the release of exoticmicroörganisms could also do serious damage to for-est, grassland, or tundra ecosystems. Damage result-ing from the introduction of such microorganisms couldbe of many decades’ duration, as has been discoveredthrough non-hostile trials by the United Kingdom withBacillus anthracis. And the release of huge amounts ofoil into marine waters can bring about large-scale dam-age to marine ecosystems of several years’ duration, ashas been demonstrated by various major peacetimeaccidental oil spills and by the intentional releases byIraq off the coast of Kuwait during the Persian GulfWar of 1991.

The land (including fresh waters): Of the approxi-mately 149␣ million square kilometers of land on earth,perhaps 16␣ million is continuously ice covered, 18␣ mil-lion is desert, 8␣ million has permanently frozen sub-soil (permafrost), 2␣ million is rugged mountainous ter-rain, and the remaining 105␣ million (mostly in thenorthern hemisphere) supports virtually the entirehuman population and its cultural artifacts.

Successful intentional manipulation of the land forhostile purposes would depend for the most part uponthe ability to recognize and take advantage of local in-stabilities or pent-up energies, whether natural or an-thropogenic. For example, some mountainous land-forms are at least at certain times prone to soil and rockavalanches (landslides) and some arctic and alpine sitesare prone to snow avalanches; presumably under theright conditions, either could be initiated with hostileintent. Permafrost could be adversely manipulatedthrough killing the overlying tundra plant cover. Inthe case of rivers that flow from one country to the next,the upstream country could divert or befoul the wa-ters so as to deny the use of those waters to a down-stream enemy, which could be a major calamity in aridregions. On the other hand, the triggering of earth-quakes, the awakening of quiescent volcanoes, and theliquefaction of thixotropic soils (“quick clays”) for hos-

tile purposes all remain beyond human capabilities.For those countries with large dams or nuclear

power plants, attacks on such facilities (whether overtor via sabotage) could under militarily propitious con-ditions release, respectively, impounded waters or ra-dioactive gases and aerosols—what have come to beknown as dangerous forces. Indeed, there now existabout 195 clusters of civilian nuclear power plants in31 countries (plus a number of additional nuclear-fuelreprocessing plants and nuclear waste storage sites).Nuclear facilities represent a relatively new target ofopportunity, all of them having been constructed sinceWorld War II, and 80% of them during the past 25 years.The few attacks to date on nuclear reactors—all locatedin Iraq (one attack by Iran [possibly Israel] in Septem-ber 1980, one by Israel in June 1981, and two by theUSA in January 1991)—are not known to have releasedradioactive contaminants into the environment. How-ever, as the peacetime Chernobyl accident of April 1986has demonstrated so well, a huge area can become se-riously contaminated with iodine-131, cesium-137,strontium-90, and other radioactive debris. The con-taminated areas would defy attempts at clean-up andwould recover only very slowly—over a period ofmany decades—as has been demonstrated by the Pa-cific island and other test sites. Some industrial facili-ties would also lend themselves to attacks releasingdangerous forces, as suggested, for example, by thepeacetime accident that released dioxin into the envi-ronment at Seveso, Italy in July 1976.

Turning to the threat of flooding, the human envi-ronment now contains almost 800 dams, scatteredthroughout 70 countries, that are at least 15 meters highand impound over 500␣ million cubic meters of water;in fact, more than 500 of these, in 63 countries, eachimpound over 1000␣ million cubic meters. Most (morethan 90%) of these huge hydrological facilities werebuilt since World War II, more than 60% of them dur-ing the past 25 years. A substantial proportion of allthese many dams would make eminently suitable mili-tary targets, with devastating downstream effects. In-deed, the breaching of dams for the purpose of releas-ing the impounded waters has been spectacularly suc-cessful in past wars, including both World War II andthe Korean War of 1950-1953.

It should be clear that the release of dangerousforces from nuclear, chemical, or hydrological facilities,whether the intended or unintended result of hostileaction, now constitutes one of the gravest threats to thehuman environment in any major war of the future.

The ocean: The ocean covers over 360␣ millionsquare kilometers of the earth’s surface. Of the 192current nations in the world, 152 border on the ocean(and of those 46 are island nations).

The hostile destruction of ships or other off-shoreor near-shore land-based facilities that would releaselarge quantities of oil, or else of radioactive or other-

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wise poisonous pollutants, would—as mentioned ear-lier—disrupt marine ecosystems, both their flora andfauna.

A number of other hostile manipulations of theocean have been suggested as future possibilities, in-cluding those that might alter its acoustic or electro-magnetic properties—doing so for purposes of disrupt-ing underwater communication, remote sensing, navi-gation, and missile guidance. However, such manipu-lations seem not as yet to be within human capabili-ties. Tsunamis (seismic sea waves or so-called tidalwaves) occasionally cause enormous damage to coastallife and structures, but here again it has not been pos-sible to generate them for hostile purposes. Diversionof the ocean currents also remains impossible.

The atmosphere: The earth’s atmosphere extendsupward many hundreds of kilometers, but becomesextraordinarily thin beyond approximately 200 kilome-ters. It is divided into the lower atmosphere, whichextends upward to about 55 kilometers and representsmore than 99% of the total atmospheric mass; and theupper atmosphere, which rests on the lower atmo-sphere (ca␣ 55-200+ km up).

The lower atmosphere consists of the troposphere(ca 0-12 km up) and the stratosphere (ca 12-55 km up;lower stratosphere, ca 12-30 km up, and upper strato-sphere, ca 30-55 km up). The troposphere is turbulent(windy) and contains clouds, whereas the stratosphereis essentially quiescent and cloudless. The lower strato-sphere contains an ozone layer (ca 20-30 km up), whichprovides a partial barrier to solar ultraviolet radiation.

The upper atmosphere consists of the mesosphere(ca 55-80 km up) and the ionosphere (ca␣ 80-200+ kmup). The ionosphere is distinguished by its ionized(electrified) molecules, which serve to deflect certainradio waves downward, thereby making possible longdistance amplitude modulated (AM) radio communi-cation.

As to the lower atmosphere, two sorts of hostilemanipulations were pursued during the SecondIndochina War by the United States. First, variouschemical substances were released into clouds overenemy territory in substantial attempts to increase rain-fall so as to make enemy lines of communication morenearly impassable. Those attempts were unsuccessful.Second, unspecified substances were introduced intothe troposphere over enemy territory in order to ren-der enemy radars inoperable. The results of those ef-forts were never made public. Then during the Per-sian Gulf War, Iraq ruptured and set fire to over 700Kuwaiti oil wells, thereby releasing immense amountsof dense soot and poisonous fumes into the tropospherefor no stated purpose, but perhaps at least in part inorder to reduce visibility. Deleterious effects of thesmoke on the environment included insults to thehealth of the local biota (including humans). Whetherlocal weather patterns were influenced at the time by

the smoke remains unclear.Regarding further hostile possibilities for the lower

atmosphere, it has been suggested that it may becomepossible to temporarily disrupt the ozone layer aboveenemy territory for the purpose of permitting injuri-ous levels of ultraviolet radiation to reach the ground(perhaps via the controlled release of a bromine com-pound from orbiting satellites). Control over winds—for example, the creation or redirection of hurricanes—remains as yet beyond human reach. As to the upperatmosphere, it is conceivable that means could be de-vised in the future to manipulate the ionosphere forhostile purposes—specifically, to alter its electricalproperties in such a way as to disrupt enemy commu-nications.

The celestial bodies and space: “Celestial bod-ies” refers to the moon and other planetary satellites,the planets, the sun and other stars, asteroids, meteors,and the like. “Space” (or “outer space”) refers to all ofthe vast region beyond the earth’s atmosphere—andthus, for all practical purposes, begins some 200 kilo-meters above the earth’s surface.

It appears not to be possible to manipulate the ce-lestial bodies for hostile purposes, Arthur C. Clarke,Isaac Asimov, and their compatriots notwithstanding.Nonetheless, the suggestion has been put forth thatsome day it might be within human grasp to redirectasteroids to strike enemy territory (as has been indi-rectly suggested, most recently, by statements of theChinese government a few weeks ago). It also appearsnot to be possible to manipulate space for hostile pur-poses.


Having now made a rapid survey of past episodesof the intentional manipulation of the environment forhostile purposes, as well as of future possibilities, letus examine for a moment the law of war (here taken toinclude arms control and disarmament law) to see theextent to which such actions might be legally con-strained—or, to put it another way, what relevant mili-tary actions might be construed as crimes of war andthus, if carried out, perhaps brought before some fu-ture international tribunal.

1977 Environmental Modification Convention:The legal instrument that comes to mind at once is the1977 Environmental Modification Convention, which,in fact, came to be as an international response (initi-ated by the Soviet Union) to the U.S. attempts duringthe Second Indochina War to modify the weather andother components of the environment. This Conven-tion prohibits its parties from engaging, among them-selves, in the hostile use of environmental modifica-tion techniques that would have widespread, long-last-ing, or severe effects as the means of damage. An envi-ronmental modification technique is for these purposes

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defined by the treaty as any technique for changing—through the deliberate manipulation of natural pro-cesses—the dynamics, composition, or structure of theearth (including its biota, lithosphere, hydrosphere, andatmosphere) or of outer space.

The 1977 Environmental Modification Conventionis valuable in having helped to explicitly incorporateenvironmental considerations into the law of war.However, its shortcomings are such that I can say littlemore about this treaty of a positive nature. Its inherentweaknesses make it very difficult to see what potentialmilitary actions the treaty might actually prevent. Notonly would any actionable modifications have to havebeen admittedly (or somehow demonstrably) deliber-ate, they would additionally have to exceed in theirenvironmental impact a threshold value that is definedin highly ambiguous terms (viz., widespread, long-last-ing, or severe). However, even if those terms had beenrigorously defined by the treaty (which the negotia-tors refused to do), the very notion of a threshold valuebelow which deliberate environmental modificationsare permissible—a notion inserted at U.S. insistence—thereby actually condones (and thus possibly even en-courages) such actions up to some very ill-defined level.Finally, there is a procedural difficulty with the treaty,in that its complaint process depends upon the UnitedNations Security Council, in which any of the five per-manent members can exercise a power of veto over anyattempted investigation or other Council action.

1977 Protocol I: A second treaty that was born inthe aftermath of the Second Indochina War is the 1977Protocol I addition to the 1949 Geneva Conventions.Among numerous important social provisions, it ad-monishes its parties, among themselves, against the usein international armed conflicts of any methods ormeans of warfare that would cause widespread, long-term, and severe damage to the natural environment,no matter whether such impact were explicitly intendedor merely to be expected. This otherwise undefinedadmonition is in essence a hortatory statement thathelps to articulate and reinforce a vague cultural normprotective of the environment in times of interstate war.Moreover, the treaty actually specifies that a transgres-sion of this admonition would not constitute a so-calledgrave breach, that is, a war crime. Nonetheless, theimportance of this stricture is substantial because it hasauthoritatively inserted environmental considerationsas such into the corpus of international humanitarianlaw.

Both 1977 Protocol I, which is applicable to inter-national armed conflicts, and its modest companion1977 Protocol II, which is applicable to non-interna-tional (internal) armed conflicts, prohibit their partiesfrom causing, among themselves, the release of dan-gerous forces (with consequent severe losses among thecivilian population) specifically (i.e., only) through at-tacks on dams, dikes, and nuclear electrical generating

stations.Additional treaties: Other components of the law

of war of particular relevance to environmental ma-nipulations for hostile purposes, whether intentionalor not, include especially the following four: (1) 1899Hague Convention II and/or 1907 Hague ConventionIV, prohibiting the wanton destruction of enemy prop-erty in interstate war among the parties (or, perhaps,among all states); (2) the 1925 Geneva Protocol, pro-hibiting the use of chemical or bacteriological weap-ons in interstate war among the parties; reinforced bythe 1972 Biological Weapon Convention, prohibitingthe possession of bacteriological or toxin weapons tothe parties; (3) the 1967 Outer Space Treaty and the 1979Moon Agreement, prohibiting the parties from engag-ing in any hostile military activities involving the moonand most other celestial bodies; and (4) 1980 ProtocolIII of the Inhumane Weapon Convention, restrictingsomewhat the use of incendiary weapons against for-ests and other plant cover in interstate war among theparties.


Some will argue that existing legal constraints onenvironmental manipulations during interstate war-fare—and especially during the now far more preva-lent instances of intrastate (internal) warfare—are in-effectual and should thus be strengthened. The prob-lem is that the ambiguities and other weaknesses ofthe existing body of law reflect precisely the extent towhich the military powers of the world are to date will-ing to bend in these matters. The legal norms estab-lished by the law of war are hammered out with me-ticulous care at the time they are being negotiated. Ifthrough some fluke they become either too restrictiveor too weak—or too great a challenge to national sov-ereignty—they will simply not be adopted by any largenumber of states. That is to say, the legal norms in ques-tion can be no better than the cultural norms that un-derpin them. Thus, one pivotal lesson here is that per-vasive environmental education, both formal and in-formal and in both the military and civil sectors, mustprecede any substantial attempts to strengthen the rel-evant legal norms. Fortunately, environmental con-sciousness is rising none too soon throughout theworld, which will make that task somewhat easier. Asecond pivotal lesson here is that the cultural normsthat underlie democratic processes and a respect forhuman rights must become far more pervasive if thefrequency of intrastate (non-international) wars—nowlargely beyond the reach of the law of war, environ-mental or otherwise—are to be reduced in frequency.


Control over the forces of nature for the achieve-

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ment of military aims has been a human fantasythroughout history. The ancient Greeks envied Zeushis ability to hurl thunderbolts. Moses was said to havebeen able to control the Red Sea so as to drown theEgyptian forces that were pursuing the Israelites. Andwe have seen that under propitious conditions todaymanipulation of the environment for effective hostilepurposes is in fact possible, though at greater or lesserenvironmental cost. Thus, impounded waters havebeen deliberately released for military purposes withdevastating environmental consequences, ready ex-amples being provided by both World War II and theKorean War. Huge tracts of forest vegetation have beendeliberately destroyed for military purposes with pro-found environmental consequences, especially duringthe Second Indochina War. Marine ecosystems havebeen knowingly disrupted with serious environmen-tal consequences, most recently during the Persian GulfWar. And more fanciful attempts have been made tomanipulate the weather for hostile purposes, althoughwith indifferent results, during the Second IndochinaWar and perhaps also during the Persian Gulf War.

But social attitudes supportive of environmentalprotection are now developing throughout the worldin step with the ever more lamentable deterioration ofthe global biosphere. It now remains to be seen whetherthese widely emerging pro-environmental culturalnorms will suffice to anathematize wanton destructionof the environment even in times of war.

Appendix: Multilateral treaties mentioned

[Hague] Convention [II] with Respect to the Laws andCustoms of War on Land. The Hague, 29 July 1899; inforce 4 September 1900. (49 of 192 states parties [26%],including the USA; widely considered to be “custom-ary” international law.)

[Hague] Convention [IV] Respecting the Laws andCustoms of War on Land. The Hague, 18 October 1907;in force 26 January 1910. (36 of 192 states parties [19%],including the USA; widely considered to be “custom-ary” international law. There are 53 of 192 states par-ties [28%] to 1899 Hague Convention II and/or 1907Hague Convention IV.)

[Geneva] Protocol on Chemical and BacteriologicalWarfare. Geneva, 17 June 1925; in force 8 February 1928;LNTS #2138. (132 of 192 states parties [69%], includ-ing the USA.)

[Geneva] Convention [IV] Relative to the Protection ofCivilian Persons in Time of War. Geneva, 12 August1949; in force 21 October 1950; UNTS #973. (186 of 192states parties [97%], including the USA; widely con-sidered to be “customary” international law.)

Outer Space Treaty. London, Moscow, & Washington,27 January 1967; in force 10 October 1967; UNTS #8843.(94 of 192 states parties [49%], including the USA.)

Bacteriological and Toxin [Biological] Weapon Conven-tion. London, Moscow, & Washington, 10 April 1972;in force 26 March 1975; UNTS #14860. (133 of 192 statesparties [69%], including the USA.)

Convention on the Prohibition of Military or any otherHostile Use of Environmental Modification Techniques[Environmental Modification Convention]. Geneva, 18May 1977; in force 5 October 1978; UNTS #17119. (63of 192 states parties [33%], including the USA.)

Protocol [I] Additional to the Geneva Conventions of12 August 1949, and Relating to the Protection of Vic-tims of International Armed Conflicts. Bern, 12 Decem-ber 1977; in force 7 December 1978; UNTS #17512. (143of 192 states parties [74%], not including the USA.)

Protocol [II] Additional to the Geneva Conventions of12 August 1949, and Relating to the Protection of Vic-tims of Non-international Armed Conflicts. Bern, 12December 1977; in force 7 December 1978; UNTS#17513. (134 of 192 states parties [70%], not includingthe USA.)

Moon Agreement. New York, 18 December 1979; inforce 11 July 1984; UNTS #23002. (9␣ of 192 states par-ties [5%], not including the USA.)

Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Useof Certain Conventional Weapons which may beDeemed to be Excessively Injurious or to have Indis-criminate Effects [Inhumane] Weapon Convention].Geneva, 10 October 1980; in force 2 December 1983;UNTS #22495 — Protocol [III] on Prohibitions or Re-strictions on the Use of Incendiary Weapons. (52 of192 states parties [27%], not including the USA.)

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7 June 1996

Mock NSC Briefing:Environment and U.S. National Security Interests:

People’s Republic of China

JACK GOLDSTONE, Director of Center for Comparative Research on History, Societies and Culture;Professor of Sociology, University of California at Davis

RONALD MONTAPERTO, Senior Fellow, Institute For National Strategic Studies, National Defense UniversitySTANLEY ROTH, Director of Research and Studies Program, U.S. Institute of Peace

PURPOSE/FORMAT: This meeting was one in a series to explore how environmental issues might relate to U.S.security interests in specific geographic regions. The “Mock NSC” format was used in an attempt to bridge thegap that is created when environmentalists and traditional security thinkers wrestle with the question of how(or whether) to integrate environmental issues into national security decision-making. In each meeting thechairperson (the “National Security Advisor”) heard two short, briefings on the security setting in a particularregion—one from an environmental perspective and the other from a more traditional security perspective. The“traditionalist” outlined U.S. security priorities in the region, integrating any environmental issues he believedwere important; the ”environmentalists” outlined the environmental/demographic issues that will bear signifi-cantly on U.S. security interests. This session covered China. Stanley Roth (the “National Security Advisor”)chaired the meeting and was briefed by Ronald A. Montaperto (the “traditionalist”) and Jack A. Goldstone (the“environmentalist”).

“Traditionalist” Briefing by Ronald Montaperto: An underlying assumption of my briefing is that it isnecessary to distinguish between the nature of various issues; some issues are strategic and some not. We cansolve that other category of issues and problems better only if we start with the strategic relationship.


The primary interest the United States has in the Asia-Pacific region is to maintain a stable, regional securityenvironment. A stable environment is one in which there is order and roles and relations between individualregional actors change. However, the relations change in ways that are regulated by various kinds of mecha-nisms, such as unspoken tradition or custom, conventions of international relations and law, bilateral relation-ships, and increasingly multilateral relationships. A second major interest to the United States is that we musthave access to regional economic life. Our lives would be extremely different at every level if we did not haveaccess to the economies of the Asia-Pacific region.

Third is that the United States must have complete free access to the region. However, we cannot supportthe rise of any hostile or potentially hostile regional hegemony. In other words, we cannot allow any othernation to deny our access to the region, which leads, of course, directly to China.


Our major interest with the People’s Republic of China lies in taking steps to ensure that China’s growingcomprehensive national strength is not directed against the United States. We need to “integrate China” asopposed to “contain China.” The real prize for the United States and the Asia-Pacific region is a stable, prosper-ous and vigorous China that abides by the rules of the international community. The U.S. relationship withChina is first and foremost a strategic relationship. It also has an economic and environmental dimension.

If U.S. relations with China are stable, vigorous, and prosperous, then the entire region is stable, vigorousand prosperous. If U.S. relations with China go bad, then the other powers in the region are forced to choosesides. This leads to instability, which in turn threatens the economic development which can engender thekinds of circumstances and conditions which impede U.S. access.

It is imperative that the United States and China (and indeed the region as a whole) recognize the strategicnature of the ties that bind us. At present, we tend to get mired down in specifics—intellectual property rights


(IPR), human rights, proliferation and potential envi-ronmental issues. While these issues are extremely im-portant, it is necessary to reconstruct or to establishsomething that will enable the United States and Chinato develop a strategic understanding that will disciplinerelations.

In the Cold War period, our relations with Chinawere frequently troubled over Taiwan, trade issues, IPRor human rights. These issues have always existed.However, they were never permitted to disrupt the flowof relations because we had a larger strategic impera-tive: containing the former Soviet Union.


Our major concern with China is proliferation. Ifwe continue on the present course, then the UnitedStates and China are on somewhat divergent courses.China is an emerging great power. It is intensely na-tionalistic. It has a weak government and one that willremain so until the succession to Deng Xiaoping issolved, two to three years from now. It is very difficultto approach the Chinese under these circumstances. Inthe absence of any strategic understanding and waysto discipline our bilateral ties, there is a constantmisperception about the U.S.-China relationship.

The Chinese believe the U.S. goal is containment.The proof of this is seen in a number of different areas,most specifically Taiwan. From the Chinese perspec-tive, our alleged support for Taiwan and our recentposting of carrier battle groups to the Taiwan Straits isproof of our desire to keep China and Taiwan divided—to prevent China’s coalescence as a major great power.If we had a larger strategic understanding of the im-portance of the China relationship, then there wouldbe a much lesser likelihood of this perception.


If we begin to raise issues related to the environ-ment, the so-called “other tier” of issues will simply befactored into that essentially negative, competitive viewthat already exists between the United States and China.It will be much more difficult to come to any resolu-tion of our disagreements and even more difficult toformulate a common agenda for dealing with these is-sues. However, if we get the strategic dimension ofour relationship correct, then it is possible to makeprogress on these issues because the imperative wouldbe to avoid focusing on the things that divide us andnot allow individual issues of a different level to inter-fere with the overall relationship.

“Environmentalist” Briefing by Jack Goldstone: Ourgoal must be to integrate China as peacefully as pos-sible into the economic and strategic plan for the re-gion. But I differ on the role of environmental issues in

that plan for integration. Environmental issues can bea positive element in helping integrate China into theregion and the world.

Getting the strategic relationship right has becomequite complicated. The United States and China had acommon interest in the containment of the SovietUnion; focusing on that allowed us to overlook manyother issues that potentially divide us. China now seeksto establish itself as the hegemonic power in the westPacific and has other strategic goals, such as extendingits territorial claims in the South China Sea, reunitingTaiwan, and integrating Hong Kong into the system ofauthority from Beijing. These goals are likely to resultin some degree of conflict and tension with the UnitedStates and our allies. Therefore, we need to find newcommon goals to help establish a strategic relationshipof integration.


The environment and the third tier issues (e.g.crime, medicine) can be a basis for cooperation becausethese are areas where we have common goals. Chinain the course of its industrialization has options withregard to how to produce energy, develop its transpor-tation system, manage refrigeration and effect changesin diet. Changes that negatively affect China’s envi-ronment are not in the interest of China’s government.China is already encountering regional conflicts overenvironmental issues and facing problems of massiveinternal migrations and ethnic cleavages in Tibet andthe Far West. The government needs bases for gainingpopular support.

Thus, China’s government should be amenable tocalls to cooperate on issues of environmental protec-tion. This is important for us strategically because inaddition to projecting force, China can project otherelements that can do us harm. Greenhouse gases, ozonedepleting CFCs and high concentrations of particulateand sulfur dioxides that move in the upper atmospherefrom the western to the eastern Pacific, all have thepotential for creating deterioration in our weather, airquality and climate.

If environmental concerns form a common inter-est between the United States, China and other pow-ers of the Western Pacific, then there should be a basisfor regional cooperation. One should start planning tomove forward on a multilateral basis to plan for re-gional pollution targets, arrange loan guarantees forChina and other developing countries of the WesternBasin and to help acquire alternatives to CFCs and otherlow polluting technologies. The U.S. Energy Depart-ment, as part of a strategic initiative, could help sup-port research into low cost, low pollution energy pro-duction technologies, not just for ourselves, but forexport to China and other large developing countriesof Western Asia.

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It is important to treat China as an emerging greatpower and to integrate it into the world on as manybases as possible. Trying to browbeat China to complywith environmental directives will increase the degreeof tension and undermine the strategic relationship.However, cooperation on environmental issues couldact as a positive catalyst in our efforts to create strate-gic integration.


Comment: The basic argument regarding China is be-tween those who want to focus on strategic principlesand those who want to focus on what you might call“the List”—“the List” being all those particulars of con-cern that we have with the Chinese. It is very hard todevelop a dialogue upon broad strategic principleswhen the President of the United States has been un-willing over the past several years to go to China andengage the Chinese leaders at the highest level. Theproblem is that the dialogue has been left to special-ists, and therefore, has centered on “the List.”

Comment: There is no longer any “magic bullet” inthe U.S. strategic relationship with China. The UnitedStates should reconceptualize the relationship and seewhere environmental issues fit in. The relationshipwith China is at three levels. One is the basement, theline below which we should not allow the relationshipto deteriorate, which lies in the lines of the TaiwanStraits and an assertion that it will not permit the reso-lution of that issue by the courts. The other level is theattic, which includes those issues that we want to fo-cus on to promote cooperation with China, such as theKorean Peninsula.

In between the basement and the roof is a wholerange of issues (e.g. human rights, trade and armssales). These are the issues that never go away andcome up one at a time. The battle is for a stalemate. Ifthe U.S. is going to look at the identifiable, environ-mental arenas that have a bearing on our relationshipwith China, then we should ask ourselves which envi-ronmental issues can contribute to cooperation andenhance our overall relationship with China? Secondly,which environmental issues are of such compellingimportance to us that we cannot expect to reach anagreement on them?

Comment: Canada has a number of low level commit-tees that work on various issues on a regular basis anddo not just react to crises. We need to start setting upcommittees (e.g. energy, environment) and have regu-lar meetings to start developing common goals. En-gagement should also take place between the scientificorganizations of both countries, helping to bring Chinato an understanding about environmental dangers it(and the world) faces.

Comment: First, the concept of integration creates aproblem. Trying to integrate Russia into the interna-tional system has caused problems. Thus, we ought tobe careful with China. It is well beyond our capacityto integrate a country of China’s size into anything.What we can do is to create a climate in which they areinvited to participate.

Second, we should be more precise about the mag-nitude of the environmental danger that China poses.To address the magnitude of the problem in the con-text of a breakneck, unregulated, industrial campaignthat the Chinese are likely to follow would require amuch more serious effort than has so far been discussed.

Comment: The United States should not merely thinkin terms of bilateral relations, rather we should workwith other allies and China. We have to keep in mindthat environmental issues are inherently multilateralissues and that the U.S. should not be the only de-mander always. If we only look at this as a bilateralrelationship the underlying anxieties between the twostates are likely to be aggravated. The advantages oflooking at this as a regional problem, acknowledgingChina’s realm of influence, is to reduce some of thepressure in the U.S.-China relationship by: (1) makingit look like the United States is pushing on its allies incertain instances, as well as the Chinese and (2) invit-ing the Chinese in, tacitly recognizing them as a regionalhegemony.

Comment: We need to distinguish between internalor strategic environmental interests. The biggest dan-ger is posed by the wrong choices China might makeduring its industrialization. China can actually undo,reverse and overwhelm anything the rest of the worldmight ever think of doing in terms of global issues. TheUnited States must devise a strategy to engage Chinaproductively over the long-term. China and the UnitedStates share a common problem; both have extensivecoal reserves and want to use them. Shared technol-ogy (and decisionmaking) to address this problemcould be positive.

Comment: It would be disastrous for the United Statesto raise global issues, such as global warming and long-term degradation of soil and water, to the level of na-tional security threats. The simple reason for this is:(1) we have no consensus in this country about the sig-nificance of those issues and (2) if we were to push theseissues to the front burner in our relationship with China,the Chinese would view it as an attempt to contain notjust their expansion, but their national development.No other country in the region shares our sense of ur-gency and desire to engage the Chinese aggressivelyon these issues.

Stanley Roth: I would like to ask this group if there

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are any environmental issues which in your judgmentare classically defined national security issues? Forexample, is the current course of Chinese economicgrowth and policies on several different sectors of sucha nature that it poses a serious threat to U.S. interestsin terms of global warming? What happens with aChina that is growing so rapidly, industrializing, build-ing cars and not building mass transportation at thesame time that its oil production is flattening out? Whatdoes this mean for the South China Sea? Does this en-courage bad Chinese behavior in an area where theUnited States does have an interest and where we havetreaty alliances with other countries? What does itmean for China’s policy towards the Persian Gulf ifthey see themselves as an importer? Are they going tobe tilting towards one of the countries there? Are theygoing to be selling weapons in quantities that are largerthan the United States has already seen?

Montaperto: The oil question is key. China will in thenext year become increasingly interested in the MiddleEast because that is the only place at this time whereChina sees any potential to acquire the energy sourcesthat it inevitably will need. That certainly will trans-late into yet another locus of U.S.-Chinese strategiccompetition, which will not be military. As in the past,the Chinese will simply develop a broad network ofpolitical relationships in the region that are stronger,more durable and richer in some ways than they arenow. The Korean Peninsula illustrates this. Korea fearsJapan and there is resentment towards the UnitedStates. China and Korea, on the other hand, are devel-oping closer ties and there is not the faintest insinua-tion of direct competition.

Goldstone: Oil is a red herring. There are unexploitedoil resources; a reserve has been discovered in westernChina that is possibly as large as Saudi Arabia. Thereare additional reserves of oil in Siberia and Kazakhstan.There is likely to be an increase in the demand for Mid-east oil and oil reserves are likely to expand to meetmarket demand.

The bigger problem, assuming that China is ableto meet its energy demands, is the effect on our climatewith both direct heat and hydrocarbon releases if itembarks on an increasing per capita use of energy. Evenexpanding China’s meat consumption, a direct resultof increased affluence of some Chinese, may lead tobig increases in methane gases from the animals.

The “National Security Advisor” asked for an esti-mate of the magnitude of the problem. The tempera-ture difference between the end of the last Ice Age andthe present in average world temperature is about 30degrees. We have recently been seeing increases onthe order of one degree or two, but that is just in a mat-ter of decades. We do not know if global warming willaccelerate, possibly causing another temperature rise

of 5-10 degrees in the next fifty years or if some naturalcycles of ocean or plankton absorption of CO2 will re-move the problem. Yet, if increased global warmingensues, the potential devastation will be great. We mayhave extended droughts, large parts of Louisiana andFlorida could be inundated with water from the risingseas, and storms could cause huge increases in liabilityclaims.

Environmental problems, like nuclear proliferation,are an area of great uncertainty. However, as environ-mental problems, like nuclear weapons, spread aroundthe world they pose a serious threat to our society.

Given that the initial steps are to bring China ac-tively (but peacefully) into continued engagement, weshould try to multiply multi-level and multilateral con-tacts on environmental planning. Setting regional tar-gets and working on implementation plans fit into ourgeostrategic plan of engagement. We should followthose up without first waiting for a definitive assess-ment of the environmental risk.

Montaperto: A more direct and immediate environ-mental risk in China is the question of state capacityand stability. We do not know what role environmen-tal issues might play in a China whose governmentdoes not have much control. In that sense, some inter-nal environmental problems are a national security in-terest of the United States.

Goldstone: China is facing deficits of arable land andwater, and there is little disagreement that the centralgovernment is less able to meet the problems that arisefrom this in terms of regional conflicts and building itsown resources. Due to China’s internal environmentalproblems we have to take great caution in approach-ing its central government. We cannot do much di-rectly to help China with these problems, rather, onehas to hope that an increase in prosperity due to tradeand sensible planning will help the government cometo grips with these issues over time.

Comment: The Chinese have said that their most ur-gent environmental problem is access to fresh water.In 54 of 58 of their major cities the water is completelyundrinkable and they also estimate that about 40 per-cent of their water is so heavily polluted with metalsthat it cannot be used for agriculture. This has seriousshort-term consequences in terms of access to waterand long-term consequences for agriculture and con-tinuing to feed a growing population. China’s popu-lation will increase by 200 million in the next 15 years.Talking to China about water issues has become verydelicate due to the setback caused by the Three Gorgesdam project. We need to engage them on broader in-frastructure issues and think about how we can incurprivate sector investment in water pollution cleanupto help them address this problem immediately.

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Comment: The single most effective environmentalprogram in China is birth control. In parts of northernChina population is 98% of the problem. Rather thanseek to persuade them of the wisdom of policies thatthe U.S. has adopted, I think we ought to persuadeourselves of the wisdom of China’ s present course.

Roth: All environmental issues are not confrontationaland all solutions to environmental problems do notrequire confrontation. There are political implicationsto environmental issues. China feels that environmen-tal issues are largely a means of containing it.

This discussion needs to consider the following:(1) Areas where we might be able to work together. (2)What are the initial steps, mechanisms, issues andfunding options? (3) How do we persuade China thata cleaner environment is in its interests and the rest ofthe world to go along with us? (4) The role of regionalinstitutions, such as APEC. (5) Should we be develop-ing another Asian regional environmental organizationor be beefing up an existing one?

Montaperto: Any institution or set of institutions thatmight manage this would have to be neutral or havethird-world bias or connection. Moreover, the UnitedStates and Japan and the rest of the wealthy industri-alized world will have to pay for it. The Americanpublic is not likely to support unilateral development.

Comment: Cooperation could be achieved by declas-sifying some of our intelligence information. All goodscience and good policies are based on good data. Wecan start by sharing scientific information and someinformation from our archives with the Chinese.

Comment: It is clear that there is no significant exter-nal funding for whatever environmental remediationor containment is needed. The United States and Ja-pan are locked in a ferocious global competition overthe provision of environmental equipment and services.Japan has a very clear interest in keeping us out of theChinese market in this area and, therefore, of findingways to discourage a meaningful U.S.-Chinese bilat-eral debate over these things. All of these things lendthemselves to a regional approach. APEC seems to bethe institution best equipped to implement an environ-mental action plan whereby the East Asian countriesagree to improve environmental conditions.

Comment: The money for energy and water wouldideally be provided by multilateral institutions, and itis possible to convince the Congress that there is a goodinvestment payoff to U.S. business in these areas. Thethird priority is transportation, which can be addressedby private construction and engineering firms.

Comment: An area that is most attractive for coopera-

tion is environment as it has affected the health andwell-being of the Chinese population, whether in real-ity or perception. Health issues allow for an end-to-end approach to the environment and for measurableresults that can be objectively collected.

Dealing with non-governmental levels might bebetter than dealing directly with government. Thereare probably a large number of political interests in-volved and a wide range of political groups, economicgroups and cultural factors that have to be taken intoaccount. We have to involve people and organizationsat all levels within China.

Comment: China recognizes the importance of envi-ronmental issues, and it sees them as a direct threat toits economic development. Environmental protectionrequires developing economic incentives, for examplelow cost-no cost management methods that are goingto save their industries money. Expertise can be pro-vided by the U.S. government and scientific and aca-demic organizations. Moreover, the private industrycan share technology at a very low cost.

China is really on two tracks right now. There is ahuge state-owned industry and then there are the grow-ing township and village enterprises. The state-ownedindustry is trying to privatize, which poses a numberof problems. Perhaps addressing management meth-ods at this point might be possible. At the same time,the township and village enterprises—the very smallindustries—are heavily polluting the water. Buildingeconomic incentives not to pollute requires a lot of train-ing and capacity building, as well as increasing under-standing at a local level.

Roth: I am less optimistic about the level of insight ofChina’s leaders. In many senior-level meetings, Chi-nese leaders have explicitly compared the environmen-tal issues to the human rights issues; they see this as avery open means of containment. The Chinese relateour own history and say the United States is askingChina to behave better than the United States did, andthey do not find that particularly satisfying. However,at the middle levels, particularly among the economicmanagers, there is probably greater recognition of theserious cost to environmental degradation.

Our basic policy is probably on the right track. Wedo not need a revolutionary switch in the focus of ourpolicy towards China in order to deal with environ-mental issues. The overwhelming consensus is thatthere are at least pieces of the environmental issue onwhich we should be able to work cooperatively, evenwhile not deluding ourselves that there are others thatwill be confrontational. We are constrained by fundsor anything that needs congressional approval. Thereare also some significant constraints on the Chineseside, including the level of insight into the nature ofthe problem, as well as the need for a greater level of

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trust, so that they do not see this as some kind of plotto contain them.

If we do not have the overall relationship on track,then the United States is not going to make any moreprogress on this issue than a lot of the other issues thatbedevil its relationship. The United States should tryto use the environment as one of the tools for gettingthe relationship back on track. We must show the Chi-nese that we are serious about the environment andwilling to provide resources.

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11 September 1996

HAROLD K. JACOBSON, Professor of Political Science, Center for Political Studies/Institute for SocialResearch, University of Michigan

EDITH BROWN WEISS, Francis Cabell Brown Professor of International Law, Georgetown University Law Center

PURPOSE/FORMAT: This meeting explored the compliance of eight countries and the European Union with fiveinternational environmental agreements. Harold K. Jacobson and Edith Brown Weiss presented an overview oftheir research, compiled for their forthcoming book, Engaging Countries: Strengthening Compliance with Interna-tional Environmental Agreements. The discussion primarily focused on identifying what factors contributed tostates’ implementation and compliance and the role of the U.S. government and interested organizations. JacobScherr (National Resources Defense Council) and David Sandalow (National Security Council) launched groupdiscussion following the Brown Weiss/Jacobson presentation.

Opening Remarks by Harold Jacobson: Edith Brown Weiss and I have nearly completed our book, and this isa wonderful chance both to present some of our conclusions and receive some reactions.

By 1992, when countries met in Rio de Janeiro for the United Nations Conference on Environment andDevelopment, there were more than 900 international legal instruments concerned with the environment. Theseincluded binding agreements and significant non-binding instruments. Most had been adopted in the 20 yearsthat followed the 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment. Since Rio, states have draftedand accepted more legal instruments concerning the environment .

While it is always politically attractive to negotiate new agreements, it is important to determine whetherstates are implementing and complying with these agreements. It is often assumed that most countries complywith most international legal obligations most of the time. But there is substantial reason to question this as-sumption.


To understand the extent to which, how and why countries comply with international environmental agree-ments, we developed an international, multidisciplinary collaborative project with 40 scholars from 10 coun-tries. The research focused on nine political units and five agreements, with all of the agreements in effect longenough to generate empirical data on compliance. The agreements are the London Convention of 1972 (oceandumping), the World Heritage Convention, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, theInternational Tropical Timber Agreement and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.The political units include eight countries—Brazil, Cameroon, China, Hungary, India, Japan, Russia and theUnited States and the European Union.

We found that in assessing the behavior of parties to international environmental agreements, it is useful todistinguish between implementation, compliance and effectiveness. Implementation refers to the legislation,the regulations and other steps required to give effect to the agreement. Compliance asks whether the behaviorof the parties to the agreement is in accord with the obligations that they have accepted. Compliance may beseparated into a) compliance with procedural obligations, such as reporting; b) compliance with substantiveobligations such as targets and timetables and c) compliance with the spirit of the agreements, as by foregoingactions, which, while technically not illegal, violate the spirit of the agreement. Many aspects of compliance aredifficult to measure, and because international environmental agreements usually contain multiple proceduraland substantive obligations, summary measures are particularly problematic. Effectiveness refers to whetherthe agreement actually achieves its established purposes and whether achieving these purposes ameliorates theproblem the treaty was intended to address.

Remarks by Edith Brown Weiss:: The traditional stylized model of compliance assumes that countries accept

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treaties only when their governments regard them asin their interest; that because of this, countries gener-ally comply with their obligations under the treaties;and that if they do not, sanctions are used to punishoffenders and deter violations.

But the reality is much different. While countriesjoin treaties that are in their self-interest, there are manyreasons why countries find them to be in their self-in-terest. These reasons affect whether they are willing tocomply and have the capacity to do so. Countries mayjoin a treaty because others are doing so, sometimescreating a “bandwagon” effect. There may be pressurefrom governments with leverage over them. Domes-tic interests may force the issue. In some cases, coun-tries may join with no intention of immediately modi-fying their behavior and may even lack the capacity tocomply. The second facet of reality is that the force ofenvironmental accords does not come mainly fromsanctions, but from the need to coordinate activities thataffect the environment to ensure stable and predictablepatterns of behavior.

The traditional framework for assessing compli-ance is hierarchic, static and focused on the nation-state.States negotiate international agreements, which areratified and put into force through implementing leg-islation or regulations. States then ensure that the ac-tors comply with these regulations. This approach ishierarchic in the sense that it reaches from the interna-tional agreement downward to the nation-state to thesubgovernmental units and individual actors. It is staticbecause it assumes a snapshot at some point in timewill accurately capture compliance.

A more accurate framework for understandingcompliance is non-hierarchic, includes many actorsother than states and views compliance as a processthat changes over time. Indeed, the agreements them-selves evolve over time. In this new framework, statescontinue to be essential, but other actors are also im-portant: intergovernmental organizations, secretariatsservicing the agreements, nongovernmental organiza-tions of various kinds and the private industrial andcommercial sectors. These actors interact in dynamicand complex ways; patterns vary among agreementsand among and within countries.


The study found that, in general, states’ compli-ance increases over time, with countries often devot-ing more resources to compliance. But sometimes com-pliance declines in certain countries during certaintimes for particular agreements. Factors such as eco-nomic chaos, political instability and sudden decentrali-zation cause compliance to decrease, particularly withagreements for which there is no strongly vested inter-est in securing compliance.

Many factors affect national compliance. The re-

search confirms the conventional wisdom that thesmaller the number of countries or firms involved, theeasier it is to monitor and regulate the activity con-cerned. Activities conducted by large transnationalcorporations are easier to control than those conductedby small private entrepreneurs. What a country hastraditionally done about the issue significantly affectsits capacity to comply when it joins the agreement.Administrative capacity is important because a coun-try needs an educated and trained bureaucracy withfinancial resources to comply effectively. Thus, rela-tively wealthy countries are more likely to be in com-pliance than those that are less economically well off.Economic chaos or collapse greatly impedes compli-ance, although changes in GNP or rate of growth ap-pear to have few immediate consequences. Marketsare important to compliance, but their effect is compli-cated. Market demand can harm compliance, as withthe demand for endangered species under the Conven-tion on Trade in Endangered Species, but market de-mand for environmentally acceptable products can alsohelp compliance, as with the substitutes for the chlo-rofluorocarbons that are required to be phased out un-der the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Depletethe Ozone Layer.

A country’s size and political system affects com-pliance. Large countries have a more complex task incomplying than smaller ones. Central governmentshave difficulty controlling areas at the periphery. Thereis a great need to coordinate widely dispersed activi-ties and several levels of political authority within coun-tries. Nongovernmental organizations are crucial, al-though not all NGOs necessarily boost compliance.Because democratic societies are more likely to havepowerful NGOs dedicated to environmental protectionand an informed and engaged citizenry, it is notsuprising that democratic countries are more likely tobe in substantial compliance than those that are notdemocratic. Individuals also make an important dif-ference, whatever the political system.

With regard to the international environment, in-ternational momentum affects compliance. When morecountries participate actively in an agreement, it en-courages other countries to join and to comply. It mayalso be easier for them. International conferences, suchas the Stockholm and Rio conferences, raise public con-sciousness and may enhance compliance.

Finally, international secretariats to the agreementsplay important roles. Formally, they are responsible toparties to the convention and act at their request. Butsecretariat officials are often the most knowledgeablesources about who is doing what and where under theconvention. Increasingly, they investigate more, jaw-bone various actors into compliance and advise actorson how to comply. Secretariats serve as focal pointsfor interactions among governments, NGOs or corpo-rations and others. In recent years, they are spending

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more time on monitoring training, assistance and com-pliance related activities.


Strategies for strengthening compliance need to bedifferentiated to take into account the differencesamong countries. Our analysis highlights two basicpoints. The first is that special emphasis must be givento the large countries that contribute the most to theproblem being treated. Ensuring the compliance of Bra-zil, China, the European Union, India, Japan, Russia,the United States and other large countries such as In-donesia, Nigeria and Pakistan is crucial to the effec-tiveness of any international environmental agreement.In addition, an important lesson from the study is that“leader” countries among these large countries are es-sential to the negotiation of an effective agreement andthen to promoting implementation and compliancewith it. In the cases studied, it is hard to see how effec-tive progress would have been made without the ef-forts of leader countries.

The second basic point is that strategies need totake into account the differences among countries withrespect to both their intentions and their capabilities.Two dimensions are particularly important: intentionto comply and ability to comply. Some countries clearlyintend to comply with the obligations that they haveaccepted. They have considered issues of complianceand either believe they are already in substantial com-pliance or have a clear idea about steps needed to bringtheir practices into compliance. Other countries acceptobligations without having thought through how tobring their practices into compliance. Still others maybe more cynical, in that they sign knowing they willnot comply. Sometimes a government may be divided.For instance, the foreign ministry intends to comply,while other branches have no intention of abandoningpractices that contravene the accord.

Many assets are important for effective compliance,such as an effective and honest bureaucracy, economicresources and public support. Countries have differ-ent endowments of these resources when they join anagreement, and these endowments change over time.Bureaucracies that are effective and honest can becomeineffective and corrupt. Surpluses in government bud-gets may disappear and be replaced by deficits. Publicsupport for leadership or particular policies may in-crease or particular policies may increase or diminish.

Countries that intend to comply but lack the abil-ity need assistance in capacity building. Countries thatunconsciously or consciously have not accepted theobligation to comply need actions directed towardchanging their attitude.


International strategies to encourage complianceare of four kinds: sunshine methods, such as monitor-ing, reporting, peer review, transparency, on site moni-toring, and nongovernmental participation; positive in-centives, such as special funds for financial or techni-cal assistance, access to technology or training pro-grams; negative incentives in the form of penalties, sanc-tions and withdrawal of privileges and other traditionalpublic international law remedies for breach of an agree-ment as set forth in the Vienna Convention on Treatiesand in customary international law. Agreements canbe designed to include institutional measures that en-courage compliance, as in the Montreal Protocol withits Implementation Committee and Non-ComplianceProcedure. Moreover, compliance plans, with bench-marks, could be submitted as part of the process of join-ing agreements.

Parties rely primarily on sunshine methods andpositive incentives to induce compliance with interna-tional environmental agreements, resorting to penal-ties and sanctions as a last resort. They largely ignoreformal dispute settlement procedures, even if the agree-ment provides for them.

The sunshine approach builds upon a democraticculture. Publics see environment as an issue in whichthey should have access to information and an oppor-tunity to participate in decisionmaking and hold ac-tors accountable. Governments are becoming accus-tomed to non-state actors as influential participants inthe policy process, whether formally or informally.

The approach consists of a suite of measures thatare intended to bring the behavior of parties and tar-geted actors into the open for appropriate scrutiny.These include regular national reporting, peer scrutinyof reports, access to information by nongovernmentalorganizations and participation of NGOs in compliancemonitoring, on site monitoring and regular monitor-ing of behavior as through regional workshops, corpo-rate or private sector networks or consultants workingon site.

National reports are useful instruments to moni-tor performance under the agreement and for educat-ing officials and sometimes broader publics with re-spect to issues involved in effective implementation andcompliance. They ensure that at least some officialsare involved with implementing the agreement. Butthey also distract from other functions that officialsmight perform to improve the environment and havehigh administrative costs. Agreed reporting formats,sharing of information and consolidation of reportingcould help.

Those using reports to gauge compliance need topay attention to inaccuracies and the fact that coun-tries are often reluctant to publicize their own short-comings in compliance through the reporting process.

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In the future, parties may turn increasingly to on sitevisits to monitor compliance with treaty obligations andto verify accuracy of reports. Consultants that carryout country projects may also provide a form of on sitemonitoring, particularly of corrupt behavior by nationaland local officials.

Nongovernmental organizations have played amajor role in strengthening compliance with all theagreements studied. At least one treaty incorporatesNGOs into the implementation process. Another re-lies on an NGO to computerize data on exports andimport permits and to track national trade in endan-gered species for it. However, not all NGOs will nec-essarily assist compliance. Some have purposes thatare anathema to enhanced compliance with the treaty.Thus, developing a nuanced approach to NGO partici-pation in promoting compliance is essential.

The positive incentive approach is the other mostsignificant strategy for promoting compliance. It isappropriate for those countries that intend to complybut lack capacity, as well as for those countries thatneither intend to comply nor have the ability to do so,since incentives may persuade countries that theyshould comply after all.

There are many sources of financial and technicalincentives: funds established by the treaty, projectsfunded by the Global Environmental Facility, multilat-eral development bank projects, bilateral assistancefrom governments and technical assistance from theprivate sector, as in implementing the Montreal Proto-col. Funds are important because they have built localcapacity to comply and have contributed to the per-ceived equity of the treaties and, hence, their accept-ability.

Training and educational measures also provide in-centives. However, the research reveals that trainingseems to be more effective if carried out at the regionalor local level, if a significant portion of people trainedremain on the job for a while and if efforts are directedtoward “training the trainers.”

While sanctions have not played a major role inpromoting compliance, they have value as a “weapon”of last resort. Other measures include the provision ofregular scientific advice to the parties (as in theMontreal Protocol), institutional procedures for ad-dressing issues of noncompliance (as in the MontrealProtocol), public dissemination of information aboutthe treaties and meetings of the parties (as in electronicbulletin boards and newsletters) and the developmentof regional institutions to implement the agreements.Regional centers help to engage surrounding countriesand to ensure that various requirements and functionsare properly tailored to local needs and properly moni-tored in light of local conditions. They also facilitateexchanges among officials in the region, so that theycan learn from each other.

Research on compliance should yield useful policy

advice for conducting negotiations, designing treaties,structuring financial assistance, involving NGOs andthe private sector, enhancing information transparencyand using new technologies to facilitate compliance.In the end, the countries and the relevant actors in thecountries need both the will and the capacity to com-ply with their commitments. They must become en-gaged.

Remarks by Jacob Scherr: This topic is extraordinar-ily important, not just from a standpoint of the nego-tiation and implementation of existing treaties, but alsofor the credibility of the entire system of internationalenvironmental and sustainable development norm-set-ting. Over the past two decades, there has been an ex-traordinary growth in the creation of international en-vironmental treaties and in the adoption of agendas,plans of action and other such declarations. Just in thelast few years, we have added major new treaties onclimate change, biodiversity, and desertification.


This process of norm-setting appears to have out-stripped the capacity of most, if not all nations to mean-ingfully comply and implement them. There is realrisk of loss of public support for a system which ap-pears to generate only more commitments and confer-ences. International institutions and structures mustbe able to demonstrate real results if they are to be sus-tained.

The United States can play an extraordinarily im-portant role in the implementation of treaties and otherinternational commitments. We can provide real lead-ership in terms of the example set by our own actionsat home and of the financial and other incentives weprovide to other countries. However, the role of theUnited States has been weakened, in part by the dra-matic cutbacks in our foreign affairs and assistancebudget. Many of us in the non-governmental commu-nity would like to see the U.S. leadership restored, butwe find that it’s difficult to persuade the American pub-lic that all of these international conventions, confer-ences, and institutions are really having an impact.

I would suggest that we need to rethink whethertreaties—or negotiated detailed agendas—are really themost effective way to stimulate action in the field ofsustainable development. A different approach mightinvolve less formal international initiatives, such asthose now underway on leaded gasoline phaseout andcoral reefs. With a tighter focus and the involvementof multilateral agencies, it may be possible to securemore change and action at the national level in othernations where it really matters.

Second, we might want to focus more attention onbilateral cooperation with a small number of key na-tions. From a global perspective, it may be much more

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useful to focus on improving the capabilities and per-formance of countries like Russia, China, or Brazil thanon attempting to establish and implement treaties in-volving a number of cases in over 100 nations.

The era of broad agenda-setting should be over.As we approach the start of the 21st Century, we needto encourage nations to begin to set some priorities andto achieve some real results. Otherwise, we will neversucceed in reaching the goals we have set.

Remarks by David Sandalow: First let’s look at theClimate Change Convention. In July, Undersecretaryof State Timothy Wirth went to Geneva and talkedabout the U.S. position of rejecting unrealistic publicproposals that have been put forth by some countries.He said that the United States supports a program thatwould create international targets with maximum re-sponsibility and reiterated the U.S. position that allcountries under the Climate Change Convention mustparticipate, including developing countries. The pos-sible binding nature of this agreement will affect in-dustry and many other sectors. The negotiation of thisconvention will certainly bring hostile dialogue on theHill.

At the ministerial level, many people are experi-encing a certain sense of fatigue over the issue of inter-national environment agreements. Within the U.S.government, we are constantly meeting to decidewhether or not we should agree to a certain target andhow vigorously we should push other issues. In addi-tion, we are always in the position of determining howto allocate scarce resources within the government. TheU.S. has to sort out its role in various multilateral insti-tutions, such as the World Trade Organization.


Comment: In terms of the sunshine model and check-ing things out on site, in certain instances where land-use change is doing well, there is tremendous powerin a sense of unity. Indonesia is taking care of its ownproblems and investing in the imagery of its forests.Yet, nobody else has had any access to that imagery.NASA has been engaged in an exercise, building upthe picture of forest cover in Southeast Asia, and assoon as that is available, it will really change the wholegame. With respect to your reference to intention ver-sus capacity and the suggestion that there may havebeen instances in which capacity has been built, lead-ing to stronger intentions, can you give us a concreteexample?

Brown Weiss: Cameroon is an excellent example.

Jacobson: The other commonly cited case is the imple-mentation of the Montreal Protocol and the activationof its noncompliance proceedure.

Comment: On the question of the role of sanctions, inthe case of the Montreal Protocol, the trade provisions,which are not sanctions, per se, have been very impor-tant in ensuring widespread participation in the treaty.Given the sensitivity of this issue in the internationalpolitical arena, I hope that your study would not leadpeople to the conclusion that these provisions are notimportant and can be sacrificed.

Comment: Some of us are exploring the idea that thereshould be some relationship between a country’s ac-cess to the flow of capital that comes from being in ajoint implementation regime or an emissions-tradingregime and the status or the level in which that coun-try is playing in the system. In other words, full trad-ing might be between countries which each have emis-sions budgets and joint implementation that might beavailable at a better rate of return for the credits whenthe investment is in a country that has a good programcompared to a country that has no program. That willtend to steer the investment towards a country with abetter program and send a message to the countrieswith a better bond rate. The EPA is exploring and willcontinue to explore these ideas and how they mightaffect participation in these international environmen-tal agreements.

Comment: We should consider how to structure a con-ference that stimulates people to think about a varietyof strategies that might be used, depending on indi-vidual country conditions and situations.

Another idea that the State Department has to con-sider is whether it is trying to wreak havoc on the en-vironment in some instances. In most countries theenvironmental ministries are the weakest ministry in agiven government. They are usually not involved innegotiations of international agreements; treaties areall being negotiated by foreign ministries who do noteven talk to their environmental ministries. Environ-mental ministries might think about packaging them-selves in ways that they can pick up a little speed andpower for them in their own countries. For instance,with countries in transition where there is noprivatization going on, the environment ministries canprovide a really important service to privatization byresolving the environmental liability issues that comeup in that context. In Poland, the Czech Republic, andto some extent Hungary, environment ministries havestarted doing real regulatory work in that context andhave provided a useful service. Another example lieswith climate change. If you call it climate change, thatis an idealistic, futuristic issue. But if you call it wasteminimization, energy efficiency or just plain economicimprovement, it has a bigger impact. The environmen-tal ministries can then get the governments to allowthem to contribute.

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Brown Weiss: One of the large questions that wasraised is how do you go about effectively getting thingsdone? Our research suggests that it is important to haveinternational agreements as part of a country’s strat-egy. However, one must look at the instruments in con-text. Non-legally binding instruments are not neces-sarily less complied with than binding instruments.

In response to the question about how I see the in-ternational system emerging—it is becoming both moreintegrated and more fragmented. There is a growingidentification with something other than the nation-state. Sometimes it is religious loyalty or sometimes itis ethics or otherwise. So the question is how do youkeep a unified system for common values or norms?You do not want people opting out of the system. It isbetter for all the desperate communities to still try touse the international system in some way to get whatthey want. There needs to be a push for more commonvalues, which may mean more instruments of variouskinds that shape common values. The United Statesshould be very careful about pursuing only bilateralarrangements without paying attention to the need forunifying norms among countries and among people.

Jacobson: Most secretariats only consist of half-a-dozento twenty people and they are on very short-term con-tracts. So, they are not getting the quality people thatyou get at the national level. While the staff at the sec-retariats work hard, they cannot commit the necessarytime. Furthermore, they are terribly underfunded.Some of the most effective activities of secretariats arenot actually conducted by the secretariats, but are con-ducted outside them. For instance, the conservationmonitoring group in Cambridge, England, has the in-frastructure to do computerized analyses and doesanalysis for Cites.

We must consider the administrative capacity ofthe different countries—even large, important coun-tries. India, China and Russia are all very weak in termsof their ability to get things done. China has a hardtime getting its edicts enforced outside of Beijing. Com-plicated arrangements are going to be very difficult forcountries to comply with. We began with the assump-tion that big, key countries are the ones who are goingto have to be engaged. We perceived that not only aredeveloping countries going to have difficulty comply-ing, but the United States will be resistant to comply ifit feels there is a significant free rider issue.

Comment: We should not think about this as either abilateral or multilateral proposition because thesememorandum and understandings are extremely re-inforcing in getting these key countries to comply.

Comment: Are there any generalizations regarding theconstructive roles of NGOs?

Scherr: There is a very important political dimensionto the question of implementation. NGOs can play acritical role in creating pressure on national leaders tofulfill international commitments.

Comment: I am concerned about a system where it isrelatively easy for a political leader to sign a treaty fora political agenda and then not worry too much aboutcompliance. Can we get a firm commitment, alimitational audit, impact or assessment, to implemen-tation issues before the leaders sign?

Comment: We are discussing countries that may haveelaborate domestic environmental audit systems, butin reality do little in terms of compliance. So, you havea very difficult problem.

Wilson Center Meetings


17 September 1996

The DoD-DoE-EPA“Environmental Security Plan”:

Enhancing Interagency Cooperation onInternational Environmental Issues

ABRAHAM HASPEL, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic and Environmental Policy,Department of Energy/Office of Environmental Policy

ALAN HECHT, Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for International Activities,Environmental Protection Agency

GARY VEST, Principal Assistant Deputy Under Secretary for Environmental Security,Department of Defense/Environmental Security

PURPOSE/FORMAT: The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is a cooperative initiative on environmental se-curity which was signed on 3 July 1996 by the Department of Defense (DoD), the Department of Energy (DoE),and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)(See page 124 of this Report for excerpts from the MOU). TheMOU, recognizing the connection between environment and security issues, calls for “a focused integration ofgovernment authorities, expertise and resources on environmental priorities, and also establishes a frameworkfor cooperation in several areas. Methods of cooperation will include information exchange, research and de-velopment, technology demonstration and transfer, regulatory reform, emergency response training and envi-ronmental management.” Initially the collaborative efforts of the three agencies will be focused on projects inthe Baltic States, Russia and the NIS, and Central and Eastern Europe. The agencies hope that their efforts willhave a lasting effect on not only the environment, but on international peace and stability as well.

Opening Remarks by Gary Vest: In an international sense, environmental issues are by no means new to theDepartment of Defense. In the 1970s, we began to address international environmental issues as a natural partof our mission. In 1980, there was a very important meeting in Munich sponsored by the NATO Committee forChallenges to a Modern Society, which is EPA-led in this country. That meeting marked the beginning of aseries of discussions on environmental standards related to military activities.

Throughout the 1980s there were a number of activities within U.S. agencies, regarding the military and theenvironment. During this time, the other 15 NATO nations began to develop an environmental program in themilitary. This program allowed the NATO countries at the end of the Cold War to make environmental matterspart of the outreach to Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). From both outside and inside the former SovietUnion and Warsaw Pact, it was readily apparent that environmental factors associated with the Cold War poseda significant post-Cold War challenge.

The United States began the process of cooperating with the former militaries of Central and Eastern Eu-rope. As we pursued CEE cooperation, agencies of the former Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact developed greaterinterest in bilateral and multilateral action with American agencies. That forced the Department of Defense intoa process of cooperation that was truly unprecedented between 1970-1980.


The Department of Defense realized that while our military was interacting with foreign militaries, otherU.S. government agencies were also engaged with their respective counterparts of those same foreign govern-ments. DoD wished to explore the possibility of a U.S. interagency cooperation on projects in foreign countries.There are two examples that warrant mention here: the Russian Arctic and the Baltics.

Considerable environmental damage has occurred in the Russian Arctic, and there exists potential for con-tinued damage. This has led to great concern about the area. In addition to the formation of the InternationalArctic Cooperation, Norway has started an initiative, focusing on minimizing the threats to Norwegian activi-ties from both past and present Russian activities. Initially, the Norwegians, acting through their Ministry ofForeign Affairs, were having some difficulty getting the Russians to actually engage in cooperative matters. The


Norwegian government decided that engaging themilitaries of various nations would be more effective.Thus, the Norwegians sought and obtained the involve-ment of the U.S. military. The combined solicitation ofRussia by the U.S. Department of Defense and the Min-istry of Defense of Norway led to what is now the Arc-tic Military Environmental Cooperation. In late Sep-tember in Bergen, Secretary Perry and the Defense Min-isters of Russia and Norway will sign a new interna-tional agreement, officially creating the Arctic MilitaryEnvironmental Cooperation and launching several newinitiatives.

On the U.S. side, the Executive Branch has beencooperating on the Russian Arctic issues. The Depart-ment of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agencyand the Department of Defense all have something tocontribute to this partnership. Through DoD’s initia-tive, these three agencies have learned a great dealabout the potential value of pooling resources.

The United States is still trying to develop a planfor addressing the Baltics. As part of this plan, thePaldiski Peninsula Project was initiated to deal withradioactivity issues, a legacy of a former Russian sub-marine training base with full-scale training simula-tors, submarines and reactors. The Department of De-fense recently became involved in the Baltics when theEstonian government asked DoD to visit Estonia to seewhat assistance DoD could offer to improve the envi-ronmental situation of the former Soviet bases. DoDagreed to help, only to find unexpectedly that therewere already a number of U.S. government activitiesin Estonia.

After agreeing to develop a proposal of coopera-tion to be considered by our respective governments,the Department of Defense expanded that proposal toall three Baltic nations by virtue of a letter sent by Sec-retary Christopher to Secretary Perry. Despite ourprogress in developing a proposal, we eventuallylearned that the three lacked the necessary authorityand resources to proceed. Therefore, last month webegan talking with other agencies about how we couldcooperate on comprehensive international issues.

Quality of life and environment promote peace andstability. One way to achieve this is to work with themilitary. Virtually every nation in the world has a mili-tary. Most militaries will try to emulate the U.S. mili-tary. Since the United States has changed the environ-mental culture of its military, why not make the rest ofthe world’s militaries environmentally sensitive?

International environmental security is somethingthat DoD has only recently begun to address. We needto transform the militaries of the world into environ-mentally astute organizations. We must do so in coop-eration with the State Department and DoE.

Remarks by Alan Hecht: One may wonder where EPAhas a role to play in the international arena. When con-

fronted with environmental problems and the interna-tional domain, the U.S. government has frequentlyasked the EPA to lend its expertise. Several years agowe had negotiated a convention which banned thedumping of radioactive waste in the Arctic ocean.Russia could not comply because it lacked the techni-cal capabilities to do so. We asked ourselves what theEPA might be able to do to make it possible for Russiato sign the convention.

While working with the Norwegians on this prob-lem, we focused on a facility in Murmansk that wasprocessing oil and radioactive waste for the civiliansector and discussed its potential for expansion to pro-cess oil and radioactive wastes from the military sec-tor. While in Norway to actually work on this facility,Russian participation in the larger problem emerged.

From those early stages started probably two orthree years of rather intense interagency discussionsin the National Security Council about whether such aproject should go forward. Agencies, such as the De-fense Department and the Energy Department, ap-proached the possibility with very different perspec-tives. We agreed to proceed, and it ultimately becamea cooperative initiative. Obtaining U.S. funding, ex-panding into Russia and overcoming all the interagencyhurdles presented huge bureaucratic difficulties. Thethree agencies concluded immediately from that firstproject that if we were ever going to do things togetherlike this, we had to pool our resources for a better foun-dation on which to operate. This was a rather impor-tant stimulus for the Memorandum of Understanding.The EPA was the stimulus to begin this whole process.


From that example, we gave a lot of thought to thebroad concept of international environmental securityissues. Environmental security has been broadly de-fined and could encompass a myriad of projects. Yet,this interagency effort is not an ill-defined pursuit thatis going to address every conceivable issue that mightbe put under the umbrella of environment and secu-rity. The three signatory agencies are in discussionabout the implementation of a strategic plan, theprojects that we would support and the roles that wewould play.

There are some other things that have given usstimulus to consider how we might ultimately struc-ture our thinking. One is the National Security Strat-egy. A quote from the report states that “even whenmaking the most generous allowance or advances inscience and technology, one cannot help but feel thatpopulation growth and environmental pressures willlead into immense social unrest and make the worldsubstantively more vulnerable to serious internationalpressure.” We are now trying to specifically addressthose “environmental pressures.”

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The legacy of the Cold War was another stimulusin our case. The legacy meant that the management ofradioactive chemical and biological facilities, the tran-sition of what were formerly military facilities to civil-ian facilities, and the various other problems associ-ated with the democratization processes all contributedto environmental security issues. We could see thatthese issues were only going to get more serious be-cause implementation of the SALT agreements meantthe decommissioning of greater numbers of nuclearsubmarines and the generation of greater quantities ofliquid and solid waste.


The EPA science advisers published a report lastyear in which they made specific suggestions to theagency to look at future environmental risks, to iden-tify them, be able to monitor them and to use EPA ex-pertise to address them. They also indicated that theEPA should be working with other agencies on issuesof national security.

Thus, we are now discussing with other agenciesthe criteria for cooperative action. We are currentlyconsidering a multi-prong approach, where we would:(1) consider direct threats to the United States; (2) com-ply with international regimes/agreements; (3) addressregional problems of significance to the United Stateswhich may be direct or indirect in the sense that theyserve the political interests of the United States and;(4) embrace a preventive defense to eliminate socialunrest and the potential conflict between environmentand development, which is a real threat among nations.

We have accomplished our bureaucratic goal andhave laid down a policy direction. Given the resourcesfor which we are asking and the expertise of our agen-cies, we now need to locate the appropriate funds forimplementation.

Opening Remarks by Abraham Haspel: When westarted to put this MOU together, we became awarethat one of our greatest assets was pure synergism.With our specific legislative authorities, DoE could inmany instances do things that neither DoD nor EPAhad the authority to do. In that sense, by working as ateam, we manage to take each others’ authorities anduse them to the interests of the United States.

Although we have been involved in a number ofenvironmental activities in other countries for manyyears we have never with a clearly articulated policyon environmental concerns as has been made by theSecretary of State. Having the policy has moved us toa higher level of discussion with cooperating foreigngovernments on joint action plans and on defining ap-propriate institutional and technology responses toenvironmental concerns. Recent political and economicchanges also require that the involved U.S. Depart-

ments make participation by non-governmental inter-est organizations and the U.S. private sector a majorelement in addressing environmental concerns withinany U.S. proposed regional development strategy.


Both EPA and DoE, more so than Defense, havesevere budgetary constraints. As a result, environmen-tal security issues are not often considered. Yet, thereare threats to our security, stemming from environmen-tal issues which can cause large migrations of peopleor diminished food production, leading to famine orthe spread of diseases in some parts of the world. Thereare many types of environmental security risks thatcould be mitigated in the future by military action. Wecan talk about environmental security and preventivedefense, but without sufficient funds, it is pointless.


Vest: We are very serious about what we are doing interms of cooperation. Three weeks ago we had an en-vironmental security strategy session which was opento any agency that wanted to attend. State, EPA andDoE were there the entire time. Last week, we had thefirst Asia-Pacific defense environmental conference,sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense, the Aus-tralian Department of Defense, the Canadian Depart-ment of National Defense, the Society of AmericanMilitary Engineers, the American Defense Prepared-ness Association and the National Security IndustrialAssociation. Thirty-five nations, and every principleagency of the U.S. government were represented.

We are also creating a partnership with the Ameri-can private sector. We need to work with the privatesector to help it take advantage of the market and tohelp them understand what we are trying to accom-plish from a U.S. government policy stance.

Comment: What was the State Department’s role inthis effort?

Vest: We conceived this idea ourselves and invited Stateto participate in the Memorandum of Understanding(MOU) negotiations. They chose not to do it, and I donot want to give their reasons for this. However, thatdid not exclude them from helping us both with theletter from Secretary Christopher and in formulatinghis response. [Ed. Note: See page 125 of this Report fortext of Warren Christopher’s speech]. We expect thatState will play a role as this develops. I think we wereable to crystallize our thinking and move more quickly.Our activities preceded Secretary Christopher ’sStanford University speech.

Comment: Some of the issues that you alluded to cer-

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tainly escape AID’s responsibilities, including issuesof population and development. Unless these issuesare addressed, this consortium will fail. A lot of agree-ments come and go, but this could be a revolutionarydevelopment. A sustained effort is needed because itis kaleidoscopic, interest varies and the whole thingmay collapse. This understanding has to be institu-tionalized, and that’s going to take a lot of work andtime.

The complex issues with which you are dealingcannot be singly addressed. An attractive part of thiscooperation is that you are pooling expertise, perspec-tives and professional backgrounds.

Haspel: Like the EPA, DoE is beginning a process ofinstitutionalization. As we go forward, environmentalsecurity, like energy security, will be another thread thatruns throughout the agency.

Vest: We are of an opinion that you do not have toplan the institutional alliances, so much as just imple-ment them. A month ago, we hosted a Polish delega-tion, headed by the Deputy Minister of Defense. Thedelegation also went to EPA and DoE and learned howwe do business in the United States. We have plans tohost a similar delegation from Hungary.

Haspel: In the long run the MOU is the kind of pro-gram that needs bipartisan congressional support. Wewill be presenting it to the new Congress. While thelevel of resources is still to be determined, there is noquestion that to continue with the level of effort madeto bring all three agencies to the table, we will needcongressional endorsement.

Comment: All three of your agencies have a numberof initiatives which require public-private partnerships.To what extent has the MOU anticipated the need tonot just pool your resources, but to pool resources fromprivate investments?

Comment: The budget question is key—particularlyfor Armed Services where a few years ago, the newRepublican majority stated in a special section of theirfinal committee report that environmental security wasnot part of national defense. There is a real skepticismthat has grown on the part of the Republican majorityabout the defense budget. Would you also addresswhat is being done about cooperative risk reductionfor the nuclear weapons in Russia, which is one of themost serious and potentially deadly legacies of the ColdWar that we have today?

Comment: I am really interested in the approach todealing with environmentally caused instability. Whenyou look at the two ways of cutting into this problem,by geography or by environmental issue area, what

priorities do you set? Also, how do you institutional-ize this approach?

Vest: We are working with industries and the privatesector. There is great potential to work with the pri-vate sector on strategic threat reduction As far as de-fining priorities, it is probably best to do so geographi-cally.

Comment: The formula for success is to establish aproject for which we have opportunities for success andhope it will be bipartisan in nature. Sitting down atthe table, identifying those projects and prioritizingthem is the first step after the plan and strategy. Hasthat been done? If so, on what projects have the threeagencies planned to work, has the division of labor beenworked out?

Hecht: The role we are playing is vital to overcomingproblems that exist at bureaucratic levels. Post-elec-tion, we will also be very busy forming a new relation-ship with China. We anticipate numerous develop-ments and have acted upon these anticipations.

We are looking at a way of institutionalization thatshows that when NATO, the European Union or Ger-many takes on more than just U.S. initiatives, it has agreater amount of attraction. Cooperation with foreigngovernments is very important to us. In terms of insti-tutionalizing it, Congress is clearly on our agenda.

The private sector and the NGOs are also involved.We have canvassed the NGOs already for their percep-tion of the issue and how they would feel about beinginvolved. There is also a lot of emphasis on the privatesector. Furthermore, there is the role of the NSC. Wehave heard from the Vice President and kept his officeinformed. As this begins to grow, other agencies arelooking at it with the possibility of signing. Involvinglending institutions is a part of our strategy in the Balticsand the CEE. In the early stages, we created a docu-ment which captured all of these ideas, and we are nowusing that as the next element of our strategic plan.

Haspel: I would like to end with the notion of com-petitive engagement. A few successes go a long wayin getting funding. Our attempt right now is to comeout of the Baltics with a winner. With the three agen-cies together, we feel confident that this type of workwill be institutionalized. Whether this Congress or oth-ers want to say this is a part of national security is stillan open ended question.

Nevertheless, we must involve both the right andthe left and hopefully get environment out of the con-stant attack, so we can deal with the problems that arefacing not only this country, but a lot of other countriesas well. When we have done that, we will be able tomove forward and the institutionalization will occur.Institutionalizing things in the government requires

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people who are willing to fight for this interagencycooperation, take it into the bureaucracy and make itpart of the institution.

Vest: How are we going to build a new program with-out sufficient funding? Everything we are doing in-volves integration. A lot of people do not understandthat there is a world-wide network of military com-manders and commanders-in-chief who are unified.They have commands that have a wide range of re-sponsibilities that require interacting with each other.They also have a wide range of tools at their disposal.At the Asia-Pacific conference, there were four spon-sors: three governments and the commander-in-chiefof the Pacific Command. Every commander-in-chiefin the Pacific attended and participated in that confer-ence because they understand that environment andmilitary are a major issue. Integrating environmentalprotection into our other activities has become as im-portant to some militaries as logistics.

We need to focus on building organizational infra-structure. We must start by identifying what partner-ships already exist and where there are capabilities. Weshould have a coordination process here in Washing-ton, so we can deliver to ambassadors information thatprovides them with the capability to do the right thingin the context of their specific country. This should notdiminish the need for capitalizing on the tremendouscapability that exists in this country. The governmentshould build partnerships with the private sector. Oneof the things that DoE and DoD have done, in the con-text of a NATO project, is to catalogue public and pri-vate sources of financing for these kinds of projectsanywhere in the world.

Wilson Center Meetings


24 October 1996

U.S. Environmental Priorities and NationalInterests in China, Eastern Europe and

the Newly Independent States

PURPOSE/FORMAT: This meeting assessed U.S. environmental priorities in three regions: Central and EasternEurope (CEE), Russia, Baltics and the Newly Independent States (NIS) and the People’s Republic of China(China). Regional experts met first in three small working groups, then in a larger plenary session. Each work-ing group reviewed a list of environmental issues and developed priorities given overall U.S. interests andobjectives in the region. Working groups also identified elements of effective strategies to achieve these objec-tives. Working group rapporteurs were Susan Fletcher (Congressional Research Service) for China, RobertHutchings (Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars) for CEE and Eliza Klose (ISAR: A Clearing-house on Grassroots Cooperation in Eurasia) for the former Soviet Union.

Rapporteur’s Report on Environmental Priorities in The People’s Republic Of China (China): During ourdiscussion, a frequent underlying theme was that China’s top priorities may have no direct impact on theUnited States. An exception is when a domestic concern in China may have a major impact on stability in theregion, arising from Chinese or regional demand and competition for resources.

Due to China’s immense size, the United States must gauge impacts in every area, especially as we lookinto the future. Reforming China’s energy policy is critical; the use of coal creates greenhouse gas emissionsand transboundary air pollution. The demand for resources such as timber and fisheries has already degradedand reduced many of the resources within the country. China is also increasingly turning to the internationalmarkets, which is creating a whole new surge of problems. There are both global and regional stability ques-tions involved with these resource demands.

Another underlying theme was the important role of the private sector. China is just beginning to de-velop—in some cases, 80% of its development lies ahead—in the use of energy, infrastructure and transporta-tion. There is thus an enormous opportunity for the private sector to play a role in the development of innova-tive technologies for pollution reduction.


We considered a list of environmental objectives in China. These included slowing the growth of green-house gases; reducing the use of ozone-depleting chemicals; promoting adherence to international environ-mental conventions and agreements and encouraging engagement and participation in international fisheriesconservation and management. We agreed that these objectives are of major concern to U.S. interests and thatthey often have a direct impact on our own resource use and on the global environment. However, they maynot be a priority for the Chinese.

Also on the list of environmental objectives in China were reducing urban pollution, especially in coastalareas, industrial issues and waste treatment, promoting better management of water resources to alleviate chronicflooding and safeguard aquifers, promoting better land management practices, steps to slow the populationgrowth rate and nuclear safety. We felt that the Chinese had a high interest in these areas, except in the case of

Chairpersons:RICHARD BUSH, National Intelligence Officer for East Asia, National Intelligence CouncilJOHN HERBST, Deputy Advisor to the Secretary of State on the Newly Independent States

BARBARA JANCAR-WEBSTER, Professor of Political Science, State University of New York at BrockportROBERT KAISER, Managing Editor, The Washington Post

WILL MARTIN, Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Affairs for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

JESSICA TUCHMAN MATHEWS, Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations SCOTT THAYER, Special Assistant, Department of State Office of East European Assistance


population. It was hard to determine a direct U.S. in-terest, however, except through the stability issue. Tothe list, we added nuclear safety.


The promotion of clean technology and environ-mentally sound management was our group’s missionstatement for engaging China on the environment.

We had four major groupings for issues that shouldbe U.S priorities and that would also be in accord withChina’s agenda. First, promoting adherence to inter-national agreements such as the Montreal Protocol andthe Climate Change Convention.

Second, the development of safe and sustainableenergy technology, which has considerable overlapwith the issue of climate change. China faces expand-ing needs for extensive energy development, and itschoices of development pose significant concern for theenvironment, especially if it continues to emphasize theexploitation of its vast deposits of high-sulfur coal.Hydro-electric development is another avenue that theChinese are exploring. Energy development alterna-tives that the United States would prefer include pro-moting energy efficiency, developing renewable tech-nologies for the long-term and using cleaner energysources, especially natural gas and the cleanest pos-sible coal technologies. Nuclear energy, however, isnot favored by the U.S. environmental community.While nuclear energy use may address the greenhousegas issue, it poses serious environmental concerns interms of nuclear waste disposal and accidents.

The reduction of urban pollution (including coastalzone pollution) is a third priority; solutions involvedeveloping infrastructure for sewage treatment andwater quality. A fourth priority is to promote soundnatural resource management; included in this area areproblems associated with food security, loss of arableland, fisheries management and water resources man-agement.

China’s primary national interests may be viewedas: stability, economic growth and quality of the popu-lation (health, education). A problem may arise whereenvironmental goals appear to conflict with these in-terests. However, environmental goals increasinglyappear in China’s policies and discussions as contrib-uting to the country’s various interests. Where there iscongruence, rather than conflict, Chinese officials willbe more receptive to the environmental priorities. Insome sectors of China’s government, the case still needsto be made for how environmental goals will enhanceChina’s other national interests.

Several perspectives are important. In addition torecognizing the Chinese national government’s per-spective, the United States must recognize the inter-ests of the citizens and the provincial and local gov-ernments, which often differ from those of the national

government. Furthermore, our activities in Chinawould have to engage not only U.S. government inter-ests, but those of U.S. citizens.



There is a need to develop a detailed rationale foran environmental initiative that would include U.S. par-ticipation with the Chinese. The Chinese are very in-terested in U.S. assistance and participation. Yet, co-operation is not the highest environmental priority forthe Chinese. It is therefore important to document, forinstance, the cost of pollution—not only the cost of in-stituting preventive measures, but also the cost of in-action.

A high-level commission might be useful to copewith the breadth of challenges to implementing thestrategies. The United States and China already havea high level sustainable development forum, it justneeds to be regularized. A large number of govern-ment agencies are currently participating with China,but their activities are relatively ad hoc and not coordi-nated.

Congress should consider removing the prohibi-tion on aid to China. However, if U.S. AID were ableto be involved in China, it would still need an enor-mous increase in its resources to be effective. The U.S.AID’s Asia environmental partnership strongly empha-sizes the private sector and might be a leveraging op-portunity, but at present, China is prohibited from par-ticipating. The President should have discretion to al-low participation in activities that do not necessarilyinvolve huge sums of money and where the ExecutiveBranch could leverage private resources.

At the working level, bringing Chinese people tothe United States to see how technologies work is avery good way to inexpensively introduce new con-cepts and new ways of doing things. This should be atwo-way exchange.

Institutions, such as the multilateral developmentbanks—ASEAN and APEC—need to be involved.ASEAN already has a major environmental effort un-derway. Although APEC has been relatively narrowlyfocused on trade, its sustainable development initia-tive and its environmental arm offer some real oppor-tunities.

Rapporteur’s Report on Environmental Priorities inCentral and Eastern Europe (CEE): The Central andEastern Europe working group tried to keep the dis-cussion linked to broader issues of interest to the UnitedStates and to European security. The CEE region isimportant because two world wars and one Cold Waroriginated there. The issue for the United States iswhether this region will continue to be a chronic sourceof instability and recurrent conflict in the heart of Eu-

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rope or whether it can be successfully integrated into alarger zone of democratic prosperity, tranquility andgood neighborliness. Therefore, U.S. interests centeraround continued successful democratic and economicdevelopment in the region. This includes the develop-ment of stable governing structures, the steady inte-gration of these countries into the larger Europeanmainstream, principally by accession to the EuropeanUnion, and the development of patterns of regionalcooperation in a part of the world that has known pre-cious little in its modern history.

We identified four principal priorities. The first isto avert a nuclear catastrophe at one of the nuclearpower plants. This engages U.S. interests in a varietyof ways. In addition to the potential dire consequencesfor human life and well-being, a nuclear catastrophecould severely arrest prospects for economic and po-litical development in the country where it occurs.Furthermore, a nuclear catastrophe could spill over intoa regional problem, possibly producing regional con-flicts. The safety and security of these facilities are re-lated to the issue of the spread of weapons of massdestruction as well as to safe waste disposal in the re-gion. Finally, substantial U.S. commercial interestscome into play in the area of remediation of unsafenuclear reactors.

The United States is already implementing somestrategies to address these objectives. Given the finan-cial constraints and the scarcity of resources that canbe deployed against this problem, the priority shouldbe to ensure the safety of existing nuclear power plantsas well as to promote the diversification of energy toallow these countries to become less reliant on unsafenuclear plants.

The existing member countries of the EuropeanUnion are going to play the greatest role in nuclearsafety, and we ought to support that. The United Statesmight start shifting its focus toward those countries thatare not destined for accession to the European Unionin the first wave because they will not be able to availthemselves of the EU structural and harmonizationalfunds.

The second priority is sustainable development. Itis the logical successor to the priority of macroeconomicstabilization, which dominated U.S. and European ef-forts in the first few years of post-communist transi-tion. The bulk of U.S. and European resources has gonethere. Through the entire modern period, this regionhas been two to three generations behind most of con-tinental Europe. It needs to close this gap if it is ever tobecome fully part of the European mainstream andovercome endemic poverty. This means attention to awhole set of related issues that have been largely ne-glected in this region. These issues include transpor-tation patterns—the rapid development of automobilesand subsequent air pollution; urbanization; and demo-graphic factors. For example, demographics alone will

reduce the Polish agricultural population dramaticallyin the next 10-15 years. Development trends shouldthus occur within a context that pays attention to sound,future environmental practices because there is littlewe can do to remediate past environmental damage.

A specific recommendation would be for PresidentClinton to set as a high priority the reinvigoration ofU.S. commitment to the Lucerne process (the Environ-mental Action Plan agreed to at Lucerne in 1993), whichincluded a framework agreement of an environmentalaction plan embracing the entire region. This processis something that the Central and Eastern Europeansas well as the Western Europeans take very seriously,but also something from which U.S. attention has be-gun to wane. It will be a natural follow-up to Secre-tary Christopher’s Stanford University speech to reas-sert U.S. interests in the Lucerne process as embeddedin the new transatlantic initiative. It is not just a mat-ter of high level leadership, it is a matter of engagingon very practical programs through the European Bankfor Reconstruction and Development and other ele-ments. The continued cultivation of the NGO commu-nities and women’s leadership in these organizationsare also important areas that need to be targeted.

The third area is to improve energy efficiency andreduce dependence on foreign sources. This cuts acrosseconomics, politics, the environment and security andhas a bearing on nuclear safety. It would also help re-duce some of the waste that has cost these economiesso heavily as they are trying to move forward. Energyefficiency is more easily amenable to remediation thanother areas of environmental devastation in the region.As U.S. official assistance diminishes over time, therelative share that goes into stimulating private sectorinvolvement in this region ought to go up. This couldinclude direct incentives to U.S. firms to get involved.

The final priority is water and soil contamination.We focused on water pollution—particularly those ar-eas that have cross-boundary implications—as a wayof preventing potential cross-border conflict and en-couraging one area of important regional cooperation.

With regard to U.S. strategies, funding is a chiefconcern. The U.S. assistance budget for this regiondevoted to environmental issues is shrinking fromseven to three percent. The overall assistance budgetis shrinking perhaps more rapidly than events in theregion justify. In 1989 and 1990 when the U.S. officialassistance program was being set up, it was assumedthat this would be a fairly short term assistance pro-gram to help these already industrialized countries getback on their feet. It is clear that our estimations foreconomic transition were much too optimistic. Yet, thefunding falloff has continued to follow this old, nowdiscredited logic. It ought to be reconsidered.

Rapporteur’s Report on Environmental Priorities inRussia, the Baltics and the Newly Independent States

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(NIS): The Russia, Baltics, and Newly IndependentStates (NIS) working group settled on five priorities.We kept as an overarching consideration that less thanhalf of the NIS territory is more polluted than prob-ably anywhere in the world, approximately the samepercentage is more pristine wilderness than anywhereelse and the remaining ten percent is like everywhereelse in the world.

The first environmental priority should be radio-active waste problems connected with the military. TheUnited States should promote efforts to help the formerSoviet republics, particularly Russia, clean up the ra-dioactive pollution created by their military activitiesand weapons production, particularly in the areasaround the Arctic Ocean and the Kola Peninsula. Weneed to go beyond working with government entitiesto working with non-government organizations to tapinto their knowledge and innovativeness.

There has been a lot of success in military-to-mili-tary cooperation. The DoE has made some very suc-cessful lab-to-lab efforts. Another useful strategywould be to expand the circle of players to includeEuropeans, Asians and others who are concerned aboutthe Kola and Arctic areas and to press for ratificationof the London Convention.

The second priority is nuclear reactor safety. TheUnited States must continue its activities in the areasof technology transfer and training to make the post-Soviet nuclear reactors safer. Many of them, particu-larly the RBMKs, are terribly flawed and should be shutdown. But as long as they continue to operate, theUnited States should do all it can to help make themsafer. The United States should make sure that theUkraine receives all the funds it has been promised bythe G-7, conditioned on Ukraine adhering to the agree-ments to which it has bound itself. Since many Euro-pean countries are tremendously concerned about thesafety of NIS nuclear reactors, it is important to use theleverage of European Union membership to promotebetter safety standards.

One member suggested that nuclear safety wassuch an important issue that Congress should end the“Buy America” policy regarding contracts in this field.It is worth trying to make some changes in the policybecause the congressional requirement has seriouslyslowed down important nuclear safety efforts. TheUnited States should also continue with its joint exer-cises with NIS countries to mitigate nuclear emergen-cies. Finally, the United States should promote the ra-tionalization of the power sector throughout the formerSoviet Union. This is an area that has not been givensufficient consideration, but it is one in which theUnited States has enormous expertise to offer.

The third priority is energy efficiency. Huge eco-nomic and environmental gains can be made ratherquickly by implementing relatively simple improve-ments in energy use. U.S. businesses have a great deal

of technology to offer NIS countries in the field of en-ergy conservation and efficiency, and much can beachieved simply by enhancing the possibilities for U.S.companies to invest in Russia. To offset the risks ofworking in the region, the United States should developmeasures to support American companies that are pre-pared to work in the energy field.

The emphasis on energy efficiency should be in-creased in the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission andadopted as a focus in the new Gore-Kuchma Commis-sion. Another important area is promoting higher stan-dards of energy efficiency in the factories and indus-trial plants in small towns all over the region. TheUnited States should make careful diplomatic effortsto work with NIS governments to promote better taxand pricing policies, ending subsidies for energy useand inefficient plants. The United States should alsoconcentrate on targeted energy conservation efforts likeinstalling thermostats in residential buildings. NGOsand professional associations could play a vital role ineducating the public about the real economic and en-vironmental value to the region of developing energyefficiency strategies.

The fourth priority is public health, which is a majorconcern not only for the local populations throughoutthe NIS, but for the United States and its allies becauseof the instability that can arise in countries threatenedby widespread health problems. The United Statesshould concentrate on addressing the problem of wa-ter pollution. Practical strategies that would addresspublic health problems include: lining the canals inCentral Asia, re-lining municipal water pipes or add-ing chlorine to water purification systems. In addition,the United States should assist in public education ef-forts, so that local authorities, NGOs and others caninform the public about how to make better, more effi-cient use of water and about how to prevent water-related health problems. American companies, munici-palities and NGOs have lots of experience in manag-ing water systems, which they could easily and inex-pensively offer to appropriate entities in the NIS.

A fifth priority should be to assure the long-termintegrity of Russian forest resources in order to maxi-mize the long-term economic return, minimize the im-pact on global atmospheric carbon, and maintain theintegrity of biological communities. The vast Russianforest is in many ways as important as the Amazonforest. It is being lost at almost the same rate due tologging, fires and pest problems, and its rate of regen-eration is very slow. Assistance should be provided bythe United States in developing better sylvaculture,logging and marketing practices, developing morewood-processing industries in places closer to the for-est resource, managing protected areas to assure soundenvironmental policies and promoting community eco-nomic development to reap the benefit of sustainabletimber industries.

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A lot of U.S. AID’s projects in the Russian Far Eastare geared towards developing saleable timber andnon-timber products, so Russia will not be limited toexporting raw logs. The program includes providingloans to small and medium-sized businesses, such assawmills, to foster the kind of industry that will enablethe country to use its extraordinary resources in a muchmore effective way. The United States should continuesuch projects and hold American logging companiesthat want to work in Russia to international environ-mental standards, if they are to receive support throughOPIC and other government-funded agencies.

The United States should publicize the importantrole that Russia’s forests can play as a carbon sink inaddressing the problem of global climate change. Con-sequently, it would make sense to develop some stan-dards by which to measure the value of the forest. Inthis regard, it is important to support NGOs that areworking to educate the public about protecting the for-est and to work with international groups to make thisa more multilateral effort.

Finally, the issue of the disposition of Russia’s hugestockpile—almost 200 tons—of plutonium should notbe a neglected priority. Russia does not adequatelysafeguard its plutonium stocks, so it has become a tar-get for terrorists and a major international threat.


Robert Kaiser: I have not yet heard of an effective U.S.strategy regarding the pursuit of the priorities listed.How can we get a recalcitrant Congress and an uncer-tain Administration to actually concoct a strategy thatmight be pursued on these fronts?

P.J. Simmons: What should be the roles of various partsof the government? Who exactly should be taking thelead on these issues? Within the State Department, forexample, some bureaues and actors may have a com-parative advantage in addressing certain issues. Howcan agencies best work together on these issues? Andhow should State and other agencies allocate their re-sources?

Comment: The State Department needs to leverageother agencies for environmental activities. For in-stance, the Department of Energy engages in a lot ofactivities which can be applied overseas. If environ-mental problems are really going to get solved, the StateDepartment should also actively include private sec-tor businesses and the NGOs.

Comment: As a non-governmental person, I was sur-prised to learn of the specificity of the programs thegovernment maintains, especially when the funds forall U.S. foreign programs have been reduced drasticallyover the last several years. During the NIS discussion

group meeting, despite our awareness of the fundingproblem, we avoided discussing it. As a result, thequestion of how we get more money out of Congressand the Administration did not arise.

Kaiser: How do you persuade the governments, par-ticularly the Chinese, but also the Eastern Europeansand Russians, to sacrifice economic development con-siderations on behalf of environmental considerationswhen they are all desperately trying to increase theirwealth?

Comment: There is a direct application of this issue toCEE. Within the past month, Ritt Bjerregaard, the newEnvironmental Commissioner of the European Union,told CEE states that if they do not adopt roughly 200international standards and practices they are not go-ing to get admitted to the European Union. That cer-tainly could have some leverage. If we could applythat leverage elsewhere, it would be very useful.

Comment: The public is an effective force for puttingpressure on the government to think about environ-mental issues. In the United States, public pressureand political will have brought about a lot of environ-mental change and policy.

Kaiser: To what extent are U.S. interests in these threeregions separable from Europe, Japan, Australia or anyother nation? Are there unique U.S. interests?

Comment: U.S. interests are more conversant withGermany than they are with France or Great Britain inCEE. Therefore, U.S. engagement is required to main-tain this communality. Without the United States, thereis a danger that the rest of Europe would not shareGermany’s preoccupation with its eastern borderlands,and, in response, Germany would take care of busi-ness on its own. A historical precedent exists.

Comment: The United States must maintain its eco-nomic and commercial interests in the Asian markets.At the same time, the United States must also considerchange in these countries. The United States might ask,what are the conditions in which countries and indus-tries innovate, and do countries and industries inno-vate in circumstances where there is a tremendousamount of growth? The greatest economic growth isgoing on now in Asia. The U.S. government, Ameri-can companies and American NGOs should try to af-fect policies and public outlooks. Furthermore, devel-oping countries are looking at Asian countries as de-velopment models. Other countries may not feel likethey can currently replicate the United States, but theydo think they can replicate Korea, Taiwan or Singapore.So to the extent that the United States can influencethese other countries, we will have a much broader

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impact on the global economy.

Comment: Without considering U.S. business inter-ests or humanitarian aid, how would environmentalproblems directly affect the United States? In Alaskafor example, radiation pollution is a possibility if anaccident occurs at the Filiginov nuclear power plant,which is only 800 miles from that state. However, Idisagree with the final conclusion of Senator Stevens’committee report. There is no clear and present dan-ger to the Arctic Ocean from the radioactivity. The fig-ures that the Office of Te