The Converging Risks Lab of the Council on Strategic Risks (CSR) released a landmark report today, “The Security Threat That Binds Us: The Unraveling of Ecological and Natural Security and What the United States Can Do About It.” The report, which was made possible by the Natural Security Campaign, identifies the global loss of nature and degradation of natural systems as a major and underappreciated security threat and calls on the United States to reboot its national security architecture to better respond to this evolving threat landscape.
Strains on critical Earth systems -- water, food, forests, fisheries and wildlife populations -- are increasingly contributing to conflict, political instability and economic harm while also heightening the risks of future pandemics. In short, a failure to ensure natural security is undermining our national security.
The report offers recommendations based on three key measures: elevated and enhanced action from the U.S. government to combat ecological and natural security disruptions; a greater infusion of science into national security communities; and a reboot of U.S. national security doctrine and architecture to tackle the modern threats presented by a changing planet and recognize humanity’s reliance on nature and the severe consequences we face from alteration not just of the climate, but of many of the earth’s natural systems.
“The past decade has seen a lot of deserved attention on the security implications of climate change, but the fraying of the ecological networks on which humanity depends, which is both interconnected with and distinct from climate change, poses a commensurate security threat,” said Dr. Rod Schoonover, lead author of the report, Advisor at the Council on Strategic Risks, and former Director of Environment and Natural Resources at the National Intelligence Council. “The U.S. and international security communities need to treat ecological disruption and climate change as conduits of serious security threats, rather than mere environmental concerns.”
“Ecological disruption clearly is underway worldwide and is a threat to both national and natural security,” said Brigadier General Gerald Galloway, US Army (Ret). “The report effectively describes the linkages that exist among natural systems and identifies actions that must be taken to ensure that these natural systems, including water, will be equitably available for future generations. In the face of stark and growing realization of the threats of climate change, it is clear that the time for action is now. The report creates an effective roadmap to guide national and international action and needs to be immediately addressed by US government and national leaders.”
“Security in the 21st century is being fundamentally reshaped by global ecological disruption, from zoonotic disease, to climate change, to declining ocean health,” said Sherri Goodman, Senior Strategist and Member of the Center for Climate and Security Advisory Board, Chair of the Board at the Council on Strategic Risks. “This report offers a new national narrative in which planetary health is a core element. This report will enable decision makers in both Congress and the Executive branch to take practical steps to address ecological disruption, including pandemic risks, environmental crime, biosphere degradation, forests and fisheries, as key components of national security strategy, plans and programs.”
The report highlights eight pillars of recommended actions by the United States:
For more information, click here to download the full report.
About the Natural Security Campaign:
The Natural Security Campaign is a collaboration among four leading conservation organizations—Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy, Wildlife Conservation Society and World Wildlife Fund—as they work to educate Americans about the importance and benefits of international conservation efforts. Since 2002, these partners have worked together to raise awareness of and advocate for sustained U.S. leadership in international conservation, including supporting the creation of the International Conservation Caucus.
About the Converging Risks Lab: The Converging Risks Lab (CRL) is a research and policy development-oriented program designed to study converging, cross-sectoral risks in a rapidly-changing world. The CRL will bring together experts from within the Council on Strategic Risk’s distinct institutes, and from multiple sectors of the security community, to ask forward-thinking questions about these converging risks, and to develop anticipatory solutions.