'Human Securitising' the Climate Security Debate

S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies

Author/s (editor/s):

Lorraine Elliott

Publication year:


Publication type:

Working paper

Find this publication at:
RSIS Centre for NTS Studies

Lorraine Elliott, ‘ “Human Securitising” the Climate Security Debate’, Asia Security Initiative Policy Working Paper No. 2, Singapore: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, March 2010.

Efforts to understand the connection between climate change and national, regional and international security have fuelled something of a climate change security industry, evidenced in a range of reports from governments, international organisations, and non-governmental organisations. In much of this, particularly those works produced by defence agencies and individual governments, the focus has been on threats to national security through civil unrest and violence that derive from competition for resources, access to environmental services, and the unregulated movement of people in the face of ecosystem collapse. This paper reinstates a human security approach. It explores not just the human insecurities that are generated by climate change, with a particular focus on the Asia-Pacific, but examines how human security models provide different ways of interpreting climate change ‘triggers’, and different and more effective strategies for responding to climate insecurity. This involves an analytical move from risk to vulnerability and a strategic move from mitigation to adaptation and social resilience. Despite the challenges that this presents for more orthodox approaches to security, it is also more certain to deliver outcomes that can guarantee security for both peoples and for states.

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