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Sustainablesecurity.org Digest: Resources, Land Grabs and Conflict

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Vera Evertz
25 October 2012

‘After Peak Oil’. Source: Truthout.org (2005) ‘After Peak Oil’. Source: Truthout.org (2005)


The impacts of competition over resources are high on the global agenda, with rising tensions in East Asia over islands in the potentially resource-rich East China Sea, on-going armed conflict in oil-rich border regions between Sudan and South Sudan, dire food insecurity across the Sahel, and reports that Mozambique plans to sell 60,000km2 of land to Brazilian farmers for mainly export crops.

In turn, there is a growing awareness of the potential of increased resource stresses in driving insecurity. On 14 October, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton referred to the dire food crisis across the Sahel as "not only a humanitarian crisis, [but] a powder keg that the international community cannot afford to ignore".

Among many other topical subjects, ORG’s blog, www.sustainablesecurity.org, has continued to provide comment and analysis on the long term implications that growing competition over resources - water, food, energy, and land - will have on global security.

For a number of years, ORG's Sustainable Security programme identified growing 'competition over resources' as one of four major drivers of insecurity, together with marginalisation, global militarisation and climate change.

Sustainablesecurity.org draws together new thinking and analysis on these interconnected drivers of insecurity. The website is a platform for promoting a better understanding of the real threats to global security in the 21st century. It also addresses the comprehensive and multilateral policies that should be implemented in order to deal with those interrelated threats. We believe that addressing the root causes of these threats, as opposed to only dealing with their symptoms, when it is already too late, makes the prevention of conflicts possible.


Recent highlights from our Sustainable Security blog include: 


  • The Global Land Rush: Catalyst for Resource-Driven Conflict?, by Michael Kugelman, July 2012

Michael Kugelman of the Woodrow Wilson International Center argues that the factors that first sparked many of the land acquisitions during the global food crisis of 2007-08 - population growth, high food prices, unpredictable commodities markets, water shortages, and above all, a plummeting supply of arable land - remain firmly in place today. This, he argues, has serious consequences for global security. Read more »

  • National Security and the Paradox of Sustainable Energy Systems, by Phillip Bruner, August 2012

Phillip Bruner, Co-Founder of the Sustainable Community Energy Network asks: If national security is, at present, deeply concerned with preserving access to conventional energy, then how would national security for a decentralised renewable energy internet be managed? Who would manage it? And what role, if any, could the public play in helping to alleviate some of the burdens of 21st century threat mitigation?  Read more

  • The United States, Niger & Jamaica: Food (In)Security & Violence in a Globalised World, by Anna Alissa Hitzemann, September 2012

Due to a complex range of interconnected issues, ranging from climate change to misguided economic policies, political failure and social marginalisation, over 2 billion people across the world live in constant food insecurity. Taking a sustainable security approach, Anna Alissa Hitzemann, Peaceworker on our Sustainable Security programme, explores the importance of "physical and economic access to basic food" by exploring the links between food insecurity and violence. Read more »

  • Resources and Militarisation in the East China Sea, by Ben Zala, October 2012

As the long running tensions over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea appear to be coming to a head, the time for thinking through the alternatives to the militarisation of this conflict seems to be well and truly upon us. Ben Zala, our Sustainable Security Programme Director, explores how this conflict raises interesting issues about sovereignty claims based on offshore territories. This case is particularly interesting as we face a climate-constrained future, with an ever-increasing competition over scarce resources. Read more »

Recent comment and analysis also included:

  • The New Insecurity in a Globalised World, by Elizabeth Wilke, argues that a new conceptualisation of insecurity and instability is needed in a world with greater and freer movement (both legal and illicit) of goods, services and people, as well as greater demands on weakening governments and the internationalisation of local conflicts. Read more »
  • Towards Sustainable Civilian Security in South Sudan, by Zoë Pelter, (Research Officer on our Sustainable Security programme), explores methods to develop sustainable civilian security in post-war South Sudan. Read more »
  • No Sustainable Peace and Security Without Women, by Anna Alissa Hitzemann, (Peaceworker on our Sustainable Security programme) discusses the vital role that women play in creating sustainable security. Read more »


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