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21: Conclusions, Prospects, Futures

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    Learning Objectives

    • Explain how comprehensive models of human security can yield effective solutions to the challenges of the Anthropocene while the perspectives, values and ideals that informed traditional security models largely contributed to those challenges.
    • Integrate the diverse areas of inquiry and ways of thinking that constitute the field of human security.
    • Outline a concise definition of development that is completely compatible with long-term human security.
    • Critically engage with the contents of several chapters in this textbook and formulate a personal position on those topics.
    • Revisit the introduction and compare and contrast in your own words the six core scenarios presented by Raskin (2016); then relate to them your own vision, informed by current events, of where the world and your country or region are going and why.
    • List sources of human insecurity that arise out of our lack of social, economic, cultural and environmental sustainability.
    • List sources of human insecurity that are independent of sustainability issues and relate them to your home community.
    • Identify opportunities for increasing human security in your community, region, and country; address all four pillars.
    • Deliberate about the strengths and weaknesses of democratic governance in the context of the Anthropocene.

    Alexander Lautensach and Sabina Lautensach

    To help the reader gain a vantage point over the stunning diversity of challenges to human security, this chapter begins with a survey of challenges moving from the global dimension to the regional and national ones. The global challenges are dominated by the imperatives to move towards sustainable impacts and to address the many manifestations of the global environmental crisis to ensure the acceptable survival of a maximum population. Prospects for human security on that front seem daunting when one takes into account that many powerful actors in world affairs are only just now beginning to take the challenges seriously. Others are deliberately deprioritising them. Goals and ideals, and entire ways of thinking about development and progress are in limbo at this stage of coming to terms with the new situation of the Anthropocene. The widespread protests against irresponsible climate policies, as well as the 2020 pandemic, have further unsettled those ways of thinking and newly emphasized the global dimension.

    At the local, regional and national levels the challenges to human security that dominate the political agenda still tend to emanate from three pilars—socio-political issues (e.g. law enforcement, human rights, governance, international relations), health security (e.g. organisation, financing and distribution of services) and economic security (e.g. employment, ‘growth’, industrial performance, inflation and investments). Until recently, the major media organisations kept environmental insecurity, including even its most obvious manifestation, climate change, well out of the mainstream focus, despite efforts from the social fringes and by NGOs to change that. Powerful lobby groups hindered any substantial progress in emission reductions or energy policy. Then a 15-year old student from Sweden decided that enough was enough; and within one year the tide seemed to have turned. In 2019 millions of striking young people filled the world’s streets, demanding action against climate change and its consequences; governments declared climate emergencies; support for green parties and environmental NGOs surged in many countries; corporations took initiatives to carefully sidestep around, or to actively participate, in a transition that may well make a decisive difference in world history. But as the political will towards action mounts, so do the challenges – and with every year that they remain unmitigated, the necessary solutions will need to be even less compromising, more costly and hurtful, and increasingly too late as far as the extinctions of species is concerned. The Australian wildfires of 2019 painfully confirmed that insight (Komesaroff & Kerridge, 2020).

    The other event that profoundly changed peoples’ view of the world was initiated by a humble virus that spread over all inhabited continents within weeks  and claimed, by the time of writing, almost 400,000 lives. For the first time in our collective memory, a security threat exploded globally, leaving no place to escape and confronting rich and poor alike. Whether one interprets the COVID-19 pandemic as the first of many global ‘transition events’, or as a one-off global inconvenience, it underscored the collective realization that the world is changing rapidly, deeply and menacingly.

    The second section of this chapter surveys the opportunities for human security as proposed in the various chapters. It moves again from the global towards the local, beginning with the most urgent agenda of sustainability. A vivid discrepancy appears between the numerous opportunities for international intitatives and the widespread absence of the political will to engage in them cooperatively. More than once in the recent past were we assured by international relations experts that a groundbreaking declaration such as the Universal Declaration on Human Rights would never be produced in today’s fragmented United Nations; neither the political will, nor the global consensus, nor the necessary leadership among the Security Council is evident. Even the SDGs, the first international effort at addressing some of the challenges arising from accelerating global change, are falling short of their targets. In contrast to that disillusioning prospect stand the numerous examples of individual countries achieving impressive gains in the environmental basis for the human security of their citizens, and of citizens taking the initiative on their own security concerns. We arrive at the puzzling conclusion that the sovereign state presents as both a major source of the challenges and of the opportunities.

    In the third section a vision of human security is presented that exceeds the merely environmentally sustainable and addresses challenges that operate independently of sustainable physical limits but that nevertheless contribute to crucial aspects of human security. Separate subsections deal with the future of social justice; the clash of cultures (which are not ‘civilizations’) against the backdrop of mass migrations; the complex political futures arising from tendencies towards political fragmentation and irredentism; ethical limitations to the rule of law and civil disobedience in favour of human security; and the crisis of governability indicating pitfalls and strengths of democratic governance in future scenarios. The chapter ends with some extension activities of a more complex type to encourage the student reader not to stop where the book does.

    21: Conclusions, Prospects, Futures is shared under a not declared license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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