The Environmental Security program explores the suite of environmental threats, both human and natural, that have the potential to undermine national, regional, or global security. The increasingly complex and transnational drivers of environmental challenges compromise ecological, economic, and food security – and ultimately can foster destabilization and geopolitical tension. Through its engagement with unconventional stakeholders, the Environmental Security program works to identify the roots of these threats to peace and stability and put forward innovative solutions.
Over a billion people rely on the ocean for food, yet 90 percent of the world’s fisheries are fully exploited or over-exploited and depleted. Distant water fishing fleets scour the ocean and contribute to the poor management and exhaust fisheries resources. Illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing generates estimated annual profits of up to $36 billion. And as fisheries dwindle around the world, out of work fishermen often turn to crime, exploited by traffickers to run drugs, arms and other black-market products. At the same time, life below the water is drastically being altered from climate change – coral reefs are dying, fisheries are shifting their range, and important habitats can no longer support the life they once did. On land, the effects of climate change are causing drought and resource insecurity, leading to increased migration to urban centers, a majority of which exist on the coasts. Food and economic insecurity, increasing migration, rising sea levels and changing marine ecosystems place increasing strain on communities least able to respond. The problems facing our environment threaten the economic and food security of communities and place a disproportionate burden on the national security of coastal nations.
The Environmental Security program focuses on the following topics:
- Ocean Security: The Environmental Security team works to address the most pressing challenges the ocean faces, including resource scarcity and illicit trafficking. The team develops natural security strategies to address illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, thwart illicit networks and increase transparency and traceability along the seafood supply chain. Moreover, the program works to understand the geostrategic implications of distant water fishing fleets. We also play an advisory role at the Our Ocean Conference -- serving as an advisor for Our Ocean 2017 in Malta, Our Ocean 2018 in Bali, and Our Ocean Conference 2019 in Oslo.
- Climate Security: Recognizing the dynamic threats to coastal cities posed by climate change, the Environmental Security program works to identify the geographies most at risk for insecurity and instability. The team is developing an Ocean Risk Index, which integrates disparate factors such as climate change-induced migration, sea level rise, and distant water fishing to identify the coastal cities in need to support to address these challenges.
- Wildlife Protection: Between 2013-2017, Stimson worked with partners across sectors and from several continents to develop a command, control, and communications (C3) system to enhance the rangers’ ability to enforce and protect Tsavo West National Park in Kenya. In 2017, Stimson partnered with the U.S. Department of State and Michigan State University to host a workshop on leveraging geographic information to combat wildlife trafficking.
The Environmental Security program produces research and analysis on the most pressing environmental challenges the world currently faces. We work closely with stakeholders across the conservation and security communities to develop integrated and informed policy solutions. But we don’t stop there, we take our research, analysis, and policy recommendations and work to identify opportunities to test their effectiveness – moving beyond report writing to real impact. To do this, we develop unique partnerships with private sector companies, governments, and international policymakers to formulate approaches to best address environmental security challenges. Whether it is working to identify countries most at risk for instability and insecurity using multiple factor analysis of climate change, migration, and resource scarcity; or delving into the geostrategic impact of distant water fleets access to foreign waters – Stimson’s Environmental Security program develops unique tools and resources to inform policymakers on these pressing issues.