Environmental insecurity and the global poor

In order to create environmentally sustainable development practices, we need to ensure that different population trends and societal demographics are taken into account and that a global, interdisciplinary, cooperative approach is the basis for sustainable development goals to be met. As it currently stands, many state actors, IOs and development organizations are really concerned about climate change, especially on a macro-level. In chapter 12, Upreti defines macro-level environmental security as groups being primarily concerned with the effects of large-scale changes to our ecosystems. While we do need to be concerned about these issues, at a global level we cannot afford to ignore micro-level environmental security issues. We need to deal with micro-level problems to ensure that the poor are not further left behind and the wealth disparity does not grow larger.


The poorest segments of the population strongly feel the effects of climate change, perhaps more so than the global middle-class or the wealthy. They are the ones that disproportionally feel the effects of micro-level environmental insecurity, such as prolonged drought, flooding, lack of fresh water sources, air and water pollution, metal contamination, emissions from power plants, immediate resource scarcity and poorly managed waste. Secondly, poverty-stricken nations are often less secure, especially in terms of national security. Environmental security is often not a high priority but it should be because it threatens everyone’s livelihood. I wonder, however, if this is really a statement of privilege – how can the global poor think about solving environmental insecurity on a local level when they’re just trying to survive?


In the race to development further and at the fastest pace, states have forgotten to develop societies without compromising the needs of future generations. Indeed, the structural adjustment approach of the IMF and the World Bank have hindered the creation of environmentally sustainable development, creating a vicious cycle of keeping the poor poor (because the policies are ineffective) and worsening the planet at the same time. IOs and state actors have been looking at the environment and development through one lens – their own – and failing to take into account that of the poor in the Global South and the afflictions of the majority of the world’s population. I am interested in looking at how we can make international development practices environmentally-friendly – can we do this with existing frameworks or should the international development field be overhauled in order to take into account the effects of climate change?



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