Lessons on Catastrophic Risk Management From South Sudan’s Looming Famine

800px-Refugees_queue_for_water_in_the_Jamam_camp,_South_Sudan_(7118597209)

Refugees queue for water in the Jamam camp, South Sudan. Photo by: Robert Stansfield/Department for International Development‬

Rick Noack with the Washington Post recently penned an article titled “Experts are predicting a famine in South Sudan. Why can’t we stop it?” In the article, Noack explores the dire situation in the world’s newest nation. South Sudan, in the midst of an ongoing conflict, now faces the threat of famine. There are warning signs that the famine will endanger the lives of millions, yet actions to avert the crisis do not seem commensurate to the scale of the risk. As Noack states: “The problem is that South Sudan is following a standard pattern for these kinds of problems: The help only really arrives once it’s too late.”

The situation in South Sudan certainly deserves more immediate attention and response. It is also worth considering what can be learned from this situation about risk management in general. (more…)

Liberia´s Rising Waters

Liberia_TopographyThis is a guest post from Joanne Lucas.

The West African country of Liberia has experienced many years of devastating civil war. Now its fragile stability is threatened by the consequences of climate change.

Liberia’s recent history of conflict

Liberia has a long history of conflict and civil war. Between 1980 and 2003, various ethnic factions battled for political influence as well as power over mineral, natural and commercial strategic resources such as the infamous ‘blood diamond’. (more…)

Columbia University: Environment, Peace and Security Executive Seminar

Tarbela_Dam_Pakistan_during_the_2010_floodsColumbia University is harnessing the knowledge of its Earth InstituteCenter for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) and Master of Science in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution program for an Executive Seminar on Environment, Peace and Security, September 17-21, 2014. Full details of the seminar can be found here. Given the increasing risks associated with environmental and climatic stressors, this executive seminar will provide a valuable foundation for those wanting to learn more about this growing area of interest. Deadline for applications is September 1, 2014.  (more…)

Climate Security on the Australia-United States Ministerial Consultation Table

Members_of_the_Papua_New_Guinea_Defense_Force_prepare_to_embark_aboard_the_Royal_Australian_Navy_landing_ship_heavy_HMAS_Tobruk_(L50)The annual Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN), the “principal forum for bilateral consultations between Australian and the United States,” took place this week in Sydney, and discussion of the security implications of climate change was on the agenda. The consultations included the Australian Ministers for Foreign Affairs and Defence, the US Secretaries of State and Defense, and other senior officials from the countries’ respective diplomatic and defense establishments. According to the Australian government’s website, “The Consultations provide a major opportunity to discuss and share perspectives and approaches on major global and regional political issues, and to deepen bilateral foreign security and defence cooperation.” In this context, discussion of climate -security is important. (more…)

Climate Change, National Security and the Big Blue Rabbit

PACOM_AORStars and Stripes magazine’s Wyatt Olson recently published a very interesting and thorough article titled “PACOM not waiting for politics to plan for climate change challenges.” The article details the reasons U.S. Pacific Command is taking climate change seriously, and some of what it’s doing to combat the threat.

A great quote from the piece, which perfectly encapsulates the national security community’s risk management approach to climate change, comes from Brig. Gen. Mark McLeod. He stated:

Seventy percent of the bad storms that happen in the world are in the Pacific,” he said. “Call it climate change, call it the big blue rabbit, I don’t give a hoot what you call it — the military has to respond to those kinds of things.

(more…)

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