Moving towards sustainable security, 2008-09

The sustainable security project aims to contribute to a substantial shift in the government and public understanding of the real threats to global security in the 21st century and develop methods to respond effectively to those threats in order to ensure sustainable security for all. It is divided into three stages, and during the 2008-09 period ORG will be undertaking the second stage:

Stage 1 [completed] – Analyse the fundamental threats to global security (2005-07). This stage involved research and international dissemination through key publications and conferences. It demonstrated that ‘sustainable security’ is a concept immediately recognised by wide constituencies across the world as a wake-up call for a paradigm shift in the way we think about global security.

Stage 2 [currently underway] – Develop and promote sustainable responses to those threats (2008-09). This stage will continue research and concept development, while shifting the focus towards wider public and civil society education and engagement, building advocacy and policy-development networks, and ensuring that voices from the marginalised global south are included. The emphasis here is to take the work to the next stage of development while promoting it to as wide an international audience as possible.

Stage 3 [for future development] – Understand and promote the policy changes needed to implement those responses effectively (20010-11). This stage will focus on the strategic initiatives needed to decisively move the sustainable security approach up the political agendas of several key countries and regional and transnational organisations.

The specific objectives of stage two are:

  • To ensure that voices from the global south play a central role in the development of the sustainable security concept with the input of non-Western analysis.
  • To explore and define specific sustainable security national policies, for example for the UK context, which will also act as concrete examples for promotion of the concept at the international level.
  • To promote the sustainable security concept to as wide an international audience as possible.

To achieve these objectives, the following activities are planned during 2008-09, many of which will be extended over 2010-11:

a) Advisory Group on Sustainable Security
b) Regional sustainable security consultations
c) UK Policy Group for Sustainable Security
d) Research and publications
e) Media campaign
f) .Beyond Terror speaker events
g) Sustainable security website
h) Beyond Terror documentary film
i) .Sustainable Security Network


a) Advisory Group on Sustainable Security

A high-level, international group of respected individuals is being drawn together to support this project. Members include government officials and senior regional experts. The group will, (1) act as an advisory group for the project, (2) build contacts with international public figures who could act as ‘ambassadors’ for the work with key governments around the world, and (3) assist in the development of the project by identifying the policy initiatives that will be needed for the third stage over 2010-11.

The current members of the group are:

  • Professor Amitav Acharya, Director of the Centre for Governance and International Affairs at the University of Bristol (India/UK)
  • Dr. Mariano Aguirre, Co-director of the Fundación para las Relaciones Internacionales y el Diálogo Exterior (Spain)
  • Dr. Carolina Hernandez, Chair of the Institute for Strategic and Development Studies (Philippines)
  • Isabel Hilton, senior journalist with the BBC and The Guardian and editor of China Dialogue (UK)
  • Dr. Bassma Kodmani, Executive Director of the Arab Reform Initiative and Senior Research Associate at the Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches Internationales (Syria/France)
  • Laurie Nathan, Research Fellow in the Environmental & Geographical Science Department of the University of Cape Town and former member of the African Union mediation team for Darfur (South Africa)
  • Michael Renner, Director of the Global Security Project at the Worldwatch Institute (USA)
  • Jürgen Trittin, former Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (Germany)

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b) Regional sustainable security consultations

During 2008, ORG will be holding three regional consultations in “Asia and Australasia”, “Northern Africa and the Middle East” and “sub-Saharan Africa”. During 2009, we will hold two further consultations in “Latin America and the Caribbean” and “North America”. Organised in association with local partner organisations, the central theme of these consultations will be to explore the regional implications of each of the fundamental threats to security ORG has identified and draw upon non-Western analysis in the development of policy solutions.

The partner organisations are:

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c) UK Policy Group for Sustainable Security

The Policy Group is designed to specifically address the policy implications for the UK of the sustainable security analysis. Made up primarily of former MPs, government ministers and civil servants, this group will meet three times a year to develop the sustainable security analysis into workable policies.

The current members of the group are:

  • Philippa Drew, former Director of Global Issues in the Foreign & Commonwealth Office
  • Nick Mabey, Chief Executive of E3G and former Senior Adviser in the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit
  • Edward Mason, Head of London Office for Independent Diplomat and former official with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office
  • Sir David Omand, Visiting Professor at King's College London and former Permanent Secretary Home Office and UK Security and Intelligence Coordinator in the Cabinet Office
  • Rear Admiral Chris Parry, former Director General of the Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre in the Ministry of Defence
  • Malcolm Savidge, former Labour MP and Convenor of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Global Security and Non-proliferation
  • Lord Wallace, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs in the House of Lords and Professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics

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d) Research and publications

Building on a series of publications over the last few years – including the book and report already mentioned – we intend to publish the results of this project in a variety of formats, aimed at different key audiences. This will include short briefings for MPs and journalists, in-depth briefing papers for academics and NGOs, and pamphlets and articles for members of the general public.

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e) Media campaign

An effective media campaign will be an important part of both raising awareness of these issues with the general public and putting pressure on governments to make policy changes. The campaign will be built around the various initiatives outlined here, as well as general promotion of the issues we are exploring in our research and publications. In addition to the usual media releases and press conferences, this will include private dinner briefings for journalists and editors and the involvement of senior journalists in the Advisory Group and Regional Consultations

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f) “Beyond Terror” speaker events

During this project we will give a serious of talks to influential groups and government departments who have the capacity to take elements of our analysis forward, as well as smaller groups and NGOs who will find it relevant to their work and interests. We intend to do this at least six times a year: three times in the UK and three times abroad.

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g) Website, www.sustainablesecurity.org

ORG is developing a new website and associated e-bulletin – www.sustainablesecurity.org – aimed at journalists, researchers and the general public. The site will provide the latest news, comment, original analysis and research relating to threats to global security and sustainable responses to those threats, as well as a resource library of related material. Each month a different high-profile guest writer will be invited to contribute a piece of original analysis for exclusive publication on the site. We will also publish original writing by key analysts from the global South, as well as articles from members of ORG.

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h) Documentary film

The material contained in our book Beyond Terror has clear potential for mass-media broadcast audiences, through information-rich TV or radio documentaries. The consciousness-raising successes of such films as An Inconvenient Truth demonstrate the clear potential in this area. ORG is in initial discussion with a number of filmmakers about the possibilities of creating such a documentary film during 2009.

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i) Sustainable Security Network

The Sustainable Security Network (SSN) is a select group of influential individuals who have been involved in, or expressed significant interest in, ORG’s sustainable security work. Linked by a bi-monthly email, members of the group receive information on the progress of the project and on relevant external projects, events and publications, and are encouraged to offer their invaluable advice and assistance on specific matters of interest to the project team.

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These initiatives will feed into the objectives and activities planned for the third and final stage of the project over 2010-11. This stage will focus on initiatives to move the sustainable security approach up the political agendas of several key countries and regional and transnational organisations. This will include a continuation of the media campaign, speaker events and website, as well as further work on the documentary film. There will be a final regional consultation in “Europe and Eurasia”, and if successful the UK Policy Group for Sustainable Security may be replicated in other key European countries, as well as the United States and other permanent members of the UN Security Council. Further political initiatives will also be developed with the Advisory Group in order to promote the sustainable security agenda within the European Parliament, the United Nations and NATO.

We are currently seeking funding for the various elements of this project over 2008-09. Please contact the project director, , for more information.