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20: Human Security and Global Environmental Governance

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    Learning Objectives

    • Global environmental governance (GEG) is the collection of governmental and non-governmental individuals and institutions that aim to influence individual and collective human behaviour regarding the global environment, including the drafting, implementation and enforcement of local, national and international law and policy
    • GEG is also a broad multi-sectoral approach to environmental protection that advocates for its consideration into other policy concerns (e.g. trade, transportation, agriculture, criminal justice, human security, national security, etc.), through different methodologies and from different places of priority.
    • The general aims of GEG are to protect the foundations of life; to provide food, economy, opportunities, development and security; and to prevent harm, inequity, and suffering.
    • The underlying principles of GEG are democracy, justice and science: democracy in dialogue, diversity, and representation for decision-making; justice in protecting the vulnerable and pursuing accountability for harms; and science in understanding humanity’s utter dependence on, and systematic relations to, the natural environment.
    • GEG has direct and indirect implications for all aspects of human security—economic security, food security, health security, environmental security, personal security, community security, and political security—as well as the capabilities that all humans need to survive and flourish.
    • GEG addresses several current global environmental crises that directly and indirectly impact human security, including: climate change and resource scarcity that causes or exacerbates natural disasters or mass migrations of refugees; the illegal trade in wildlife and endangered species – as well as legal and illegal resource extraction—that exacerbates corruption and conflict, including through the funding of arms-sales; legal and illegal land-grabs that take away the lives, livelihoods, and cultures of indigenous populations; the global trade of recyclables and hazardous waste to vulnerable countries, or vulnerable people within those countries; and the mass-scale legal and illegal over-fishing of our oceans, and the harmful practices that are used, that foster human trafficking, endanger traditional fishing practices, and harm regeneration of natural habitats and populations.
    • Some of the challenges to GEG include: (a) the sectoral approach of GEG that places the environment in competition with other sectors; (b) narrow interpretations of state sovereignty and state responsibility that prevent or limit accountability for global harms; (c) the rise of nationalism and isolationism among states; (d) the limits or absence of global institutions to provide guiding principles, regulation and enforceable laws and policy; (e) power imbalances among members of global institutions in negotiations and decision-making; (f) the sense of anonymity or remoteness of global governance approaches and global issues; and (g) the absence of justice in GEG.
    • The role of GEG in human security can be strengthened by promoting ubuntu, the South African ethical principle of inter-relatedness, interdependence, rooted cosmopolitanism, reconciliation and restorative justice.

    Kathryn A. Gwiazdon

    This chapter discusses the role of global environmental governance (GEG) in human security. It will provide an overview of the purpose, principles, parties, and process of global environmental governance, as well as the challenges that GEG faces in responding to global crises. It will explain the particular relevance of GEG to human security, the foundations of human stability and security in environmental stability and security, and some current human security issues within the GEG framework. In discussing its challenges, it will also offer suggestions on how to strengthen GEG to better protect human security. The overarching purpose of this chapter is to provide a glimpse into the current nature of GEG and its fundamental role in human security, and to begin to unpack ideas for a more effective approach to addressing our global crises. This chapter builds upon the first edition chapter on this same topic, which focused more on the legal and technical aspects of GEG.

    20: Human Security and Global Environmental Governance is shared under a not declared license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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