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Three quick questions to Kaveh Madani, Yale University


Thursday this week Kaveh Madani is participating in a CMES Research seminar on "Rethinking Environmental Security: The Lessons Learned from the Middle East".

The attention to the topic of environmental security is on the rise in the 4D (Development, Disaster, Diplomacy and Defense) circles. We have enough evidence to have no doubt that the unsustainable use of natural resources, environmental degradation and climate change can lead to poverty, hunger, inequality, injustice, public health problems, unemployment, migration, tensions, violations of human rights, conflicts, terrorism, violence, and even wars.

Based on the conventional understanding of the environmental security concept, human/national security problems can be avoided by addressing environmental degradation and climate change. 

  • Can you elaborate a bit on this “Based on the conventional understanding of the environmental security concept...?

- We continuously hear about the national security implications of the environmental problems: e.g. tensions, conflicts, wars, migration, and refugees. Concerned scientists, environmental activists, and politicians continuously warn about the national security problems that can be caused by not addressing issues such as climate change, water shortage, deforestation, etc. Based on the popular narratives, we can avoid national security issues by addressing the environmental problems.

  • Which examples from the Middle East will you discuss in the seminar?

- I use examples from Iran, my home country, as well as other countries in the Middle East such as Iraq, Syria, Oman, and Egypt.

  • Do you have an example of this (which is in your abstract): "systems approach to defining and enforcing environmental security within the coupled human-environment systems analysis framework that captures the overlooked reinforcing feedback relationship between the resilience of environmental systems and the viability of human systems"?

- Well, this is going to happen in a one-hour seminar. So, please attend and see what I have to say but generally I am arguing that the narrative that we can avoid national security issues by addressing environmental problems does not appreciate the important fact that the reason that many societies and nations cannot address their environmental problems is that they are currently suffering from human insecurity problems. We need to replace the current reductionist thinking that oversimplifies the problem with systems thinking to be able to capture the essential elements of the problem.

More about the seminar