Although environmental change threatens all of humanity, people living in the developing world are often the most vulnerable to its effects, as large portions of these populations are directly dependent on activities such as agriculture, forestry, and fishing for their well-being and survival. These activities depend on healthy ecological systems, and there are few buffers to protect the poor from the repercussions of environmental decline.
In at least some cases, environmental change can be a factor in generating or exacerbating violent conflicts. But scholarly research shows that environmental change is never a single cause of conflict. Environmental issues are part of a complex mix of factors and pressures that vary in composition and dynamics from country to country. Persistent poverty, growing income inequality, population growth, job shortages, and disease burdens are key additional concerns. This potent combination is leading to severe stress on the social fabric of many communities, political strife in a number of countries, and even to devastating violence in some.
Therefore, there are a number of pathways through which environmental degradation can translate into greater vulnerability, instability, and conflict and these must be taken into great consideration. These include security conflicts, diseases, Resource Wealth Conflicts, Food Insecurity, Disasters, Inhabitability, and “Environmental Refugees”. All these plat an important role in the degradation of the environment.
Countries, communities, private enterprises, and civil society actors can employ many strategies to address the complex linkages between environment, population, development, and security. A multi-faceted strategy is needed, including the following elements:
· Combat land degradation and improve water productivity through sustainable agricultural practices and other techniques
A range of sustainable agriculture practices can be employed to combat land degradation, including improved fertilization practices, the planting of tree crops, and a shift toward “no-till” farming practices. In general, water scarcity can be reduced by increasing the efficiency of private water use, decreasing leakage as water is distributed, and reforming agricultural practices to lower water inputs.
· Promote renewable energy and energy efficiency
More aggressive promotion of renewable energy and energy efficiency could substantially reduce reliance on oil and other exhaustible energy resources that contribute to global climate change and fan broader geopolitical tensions as well as civil wars. Through this people living in developing countries could save up to 75 percent of their energy by incorporating more energy efficient cooking and heating technologies.
· Reduce population growth rates by providing widespread access to family planning, encouraging girls’ education, and empowering women.
Slowing population growth rates can help to reduce local pressures on natural resources,and there-by reduce scarcity-induced tensions. Countries that go through a demographic transition—from high birth and death rates, to lower birth and death rates—are marked by higher life expectancies and smaller family sizes. They have a lower likelihood of civil conflict and tend to fare better economically.
· Safeguard ecosystems on which the poor depend, such as forests, watersheds, arable land, and fisheries
The poor are extremely dependent on local resources for their well-being and survival, as they cannot afford to purchase adequate shelter, food, and fuel. Safeguarding ecosystems ensures that vital ecosystem services such as air and water purification, pollination, climate stabilization, and erosion control are protected, there-by minimizing the potential for conflict over resource scarcity.
· Develop certification systems for natural resources that use consumer power to discourage illegal trade and promote sustainable harvesting