Environmental Security

Preserving the Planet

Environmental Security

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.

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Research and Analysis

April 8, 2019

Cyclone Idai Highlights Climate Change Vulnerability

March 25, 2019

Distant water fishing (DWF) fleets have roamed the ocean for centuries. Yet in recent years, globalization and innovation have enabled these fleets to become more efficient in their operations.

March 19, 2019

The President of the Marshall Islands, Hilda Heine, has outlined how her government is considering the possibility of building artificial islands as a respons

March 19, 2019

The European Commission (EC) recently delayed a visit to Vietnam intended to review the country’s efforts to address IUU fishing concerns.

March 19, 2019

A recent investigation carried out by Oceana found one in every five fish it tested in the US to be mislabeled.

January 25, 2019

Lindsay Getschel, a Research Assistant at Stimson’s Environmental Security Program, addressed the United Nation’s Security Council on the threats posed by climate change. Speaking as a youth representative, she recommended concrete steps the Council should take to mitigate those threats:

May 23, 2018 | EXPERT: Amanda Shaver , EXPERT: Lindsay Getschel , EXPERT: Sally Yozell

Urban coastal centers are facing unprecedented social, economic and structural risks due to the impacts of climate change.

February 26, 2018 | EXPERT: Amanda Shaver , EXPERT: Sally Yozell

Illegal fishing. Yes, Fishing. This growing international problem is a key factor in geopolitical tensions in the South China Sea, piracy off the Horn of Africa, and the deadly narco-trade across Latin America.

February 6, 2018 | EXPERT: Amanda Shaver , EXPERT: Sally Yozell

February 5, 2018 | EXPERT: Amanda Shaver , EXPERT: Brian Eyler , EXPERT: Sally Yozell

On September 14-15, 2017, The Stimson Center in partnership with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) co-chaired a U.S. State Department funded U.S.-ASEAN Conference on Marine Environmental Issues.

February 5, 2018

On October 23, 2017 the Stimson Center, United States Department of State, and Michigan State University co-hosted a workshop on leveraging geospatially-enabled information to combat wildlife trafficking, one of the largest illicit markets in the world.

February 1, 2018 | EXPERT: Amanda Shaver , EXPERT: Sally Yozell

The world’s fisheries are on the brink of collapse. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (UNFAO) estimates that nearly 90 percent are fully exploited or overexploited and depleted, while demand for seafood continues to increase.

January 30, 2018 | EXPERT: Sally Yozell

In September 2017, the Stimson Center, the U.S. National Maritime Intelligence-Integration Office (NMIO), National Geographic, and the Waitt Foundation hosted a meeting of 100 experts on illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Attendees represented entities across the U.S.

July 14, 2017 | EXPERT: David Michel

David Michel, Nonresident Fellow in Stimson's Environmental Security program, contributed a chapter on "Iran's Impending Water Crisis" to the book Water, Security, and US Foreign Policy. Book Summary:
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