Wednesday, 14 December 2011

HUMAN SECURITY IMPLICATIONS OF CLIMATE CHANGE

By: Maggie .M. Mwape
Climate shocks also erode long-term opportunities for human development, undermining productivity and eroding human capabilities. No single climate shock can be attributed to climate change. However, climate change is racketing up the risks and vulnerabilities facing the poor. It is placing further stress on already over-stretched coping mechanisms and trapping people in downward spirals of deprivation.

There is growing recognition among scientists, practitioners, and policy-makers that climate change will increase the frequency and magnitude of extreme hydro meteorological events with potentially devastating economic and social impacts at the local and regional levels. Disasters are increasing in impacts and scope, not due to hazards alone, but because of the combined effects of large-scale environmental, economic, social, demographic, and technological changes.

Climate change and the potential for increased disasters related to extreme events also raise critical concerns for long-term human security. Human security, broadly defined, includes the means to secure basic rights, needs, and livelihoods, and to pursue opportunities for human fulfilment and development. The promotion of human security is also closely linked to a “positive vision” of society that is encapsulated in notions such as well-being, quality of life, and human flourishing. This positive vision has been elaborated through the capabilities approach, which emphasizes the freedom of people to choose among different ways of living, and to pursue opportunities to achieve outcomes that they value.

A number of recent studies have assessed the relationship between climate change and human security, demonstrating that the linkages are often both complex and context dependent. For example, negative impacts of climate change on food security over the medium- and long-term are likely to create greater emergency food aid needs in the future. Among the most widely-discussed humanitarian and human security issues surrounding climate change are the possibilities of mass migration and/or violent conflict as the result of biophysical or ecological disruptions associated with climate change.

Climate change and migration
Concerning migration, disasters linked to both extreme events and more gradual changes often lead to displaced people, refugees, relocated communities, and temporary or permanent migration. The relationship between climate risk and displacement is a complex one and there are a myriad of factors that affect displacements and migration.

Climate change and conflict
The magnitude of environmental changes expected to result from even 2°C of warming above pre-industrial levels may cause significant negative social outcomes in certain social systems in particular low income and resource-dependent societies. In recent years there has been considerable attention to the relationship between climate change and violent conflicts.

Reference: UNDP 2007/2008 REPORT

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