Institute for Environmental Security

Advancing Global Environmental Security through
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Environmental Security for Poverty Alleviation - 2006-2010


A major proportion of the world's ecosystems and related services is being degraded or used unsustainably. This process affects human wellbeing in several ways: the growing scarcity of natural resources creates a growing risk for human and political conflicts and hinders sustainable development and the poverty alleviation that depends on it.

The overall objective of the IES science programme is to secure the natural resource livelihood basis of local communities. IES pursues this objective along two, mutually related lines:

  1. the conservation of ecosystems and their related services; and
  2. the implementation of the international legal order.

The graph below summarises the problem analysis (left) and the project goals (right):

Diagram 1: problem statement and IES approach

The first project objective is to generate and provide reliable and relevant information about selected ecosystems.

With respect to the original 3 IES EnviroSecurity Assessments, since 2006 IES has worked to ensure that information was kept up-to-date and that any necessary adjustments to the prototype methodology were made.

Since 2007 work was carried out on three additional case studies which were all published by the end of 2010.

In each case the aim has been to clearly identify the interdependency between conservation of eco-system services and poverty alleviation

The integrated methodology developed and employed can be replicated to produce EnviroSecurity Assessments in other eco-regions and eventually lead to Comprehensive EnviroSecurity Plans.

Eco-regions for possible Future EnviroSecurity Assessments

The Guiana Shield covers an area of 2,5 million km2 of mostly intact tropical rainforest, which provides for 15% of the world's fresh water reserves and a very high, endemic biodiversity.

IES is a technical partner in the 'Guiana Shield Initiative' a project aiming to set up a financial mechanism to provide payment to countries and local communities for sustaining the ecosystem services provided by the region. Monitoring (remote sensing) is required for the functioning of the mechanism as an important verification tool. The major countries of focus are Suriname, Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela and Guyana. See also

Sudan is strategically located on the Nile, an international basin with a fixed quantity of water and fast-growing demand for it. Ecologically, economically and socially unsustainable policies in the Northern more arid lands have pushed people to the wetter areas in the South, creating conflicts over land and water…There is consensus that an important factor leading to the tragedy in Darfur has been the fight over scarce land and water resources.

With increasing population and increasing risk of droughts resulting from on-going climate change, one has to fear that amongst the many other causes for conflict in Africa, the relative weight of environmental security will also increase. In January 2005 tribal conflict caused by drought was reported in various places in Kenya.

Using the extensive scientific network of the IUCN on environment and security future case study could distil best practices on how to deal with environmental scarcity and share these with the relevant donor community and other stakeholders.

Also the urgency of adequate drought monitoring and forecasting should be put forward to the remote sensing and earth observation community to give this the priority the African continent needs.

Related Links

Environmental Security Assessments: Methodologies and Practices


On 21-22 November 2010 the IES, in collaboration with UNEP and ENVSEC, organised a workshop on 'Environmental Security Assessments: Methodologies and Practices'.

The meeting brought together experts with experience in designing and carrying out ESAs and policy makers and practitioners with a demonstrated interest in using such assessments. The overall aim was to exchange information and experiences on the various approaches to conducting ESAs and explore ways to improve the use of them in the future.

For more information on the workshop and an Action Guide to related organisations, initatives, publications and web resources click here.

Environment and Security Initiative

Peacefully resolving the overriding political, economic and social concerns of our time requires a multifaceted approach, including mechanisms to address the links between the natural environment and human security. UNDP, UNEP, OSCE, NATO, UNECE and REC have joined forces in the Environment and Security (ENVSEC) Initiative to offer countries their combined pool of expertise and resources towards that aim.

Investing in Prevention: an international strategy to manage risks of instability and improve crisis response (February 2005)
- UK Prime Minister's Strategy Unit

The UK Prime Minister asked the Cabinet Office Strategy Unit to lead a cross-Whitehall programme team to analyse the challenges raised by countries at risk of instability (CRI) and recommend how the UK should improve its strategic response to them. The project team developed process manuals for performing risk assessment and strategic analysis of countries at risk of instability.

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