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  • Marzele Bosch (South Africa)

The intersection of human security, health, and climate change



A growing consensus about the need to move away from the narrow understanding of security based on military terms. Human security, climate, and health are essential dimensions of global sustainable peace. A comprehensive security approach is needed to promote peace, security, and stability. Human security intersects with health and environmental security. The COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis are two of the most significant challenges the world has recently faced. The human security framework helps international, regional, national, and local stakeholders to better coordinate responses to these challenges. Academic and policy discourses are often framed regarding environmental, scientific, or securitization factors. However, a human security perspective that prioritizes people and their complex social and economic interactions focus on context-specific and prevention-oriented responses that strengthen the protection and empowerment of all people. Applying a human security approach may more effectively define and address international challenges’ multidimensional causes and consequences. It promotes integrated actions among all relevant stakeholders, promotes multi-stakeholder partnerships, and addresses the root causes of vulnerabilities.

The 2022 Global Risk Report identified environmental risks as the most severe global risk over the next ten years. Climate change may increase the risk of natural disasters, exacerbate conflicts and forced displacements, and increase food insecurities. Viewing the negative consequences of climate change through a human security lens may expand the range of relevant stakeholders, widening intervention frameworks and redistributing vital resources by including vulnerable citizens and communities in decision-making processes. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated that the impacts of crises are experienced differently by different groups. Policies that do not consider the intersectional position of individuals risk leaving the most vulnerable citizens behind. Although climate change affects everyone regardless of their backgrounds, vulnerable populations feel its negative consequences more deeply. The climate crisis threatens human security by undermining livelihoods, compromising cultures, increasing migration, and challenging governments' ability to provide the conditions necessary for human security. Therefore, human security intersects with climate change and health and poses a threat to international peace and security.


Climate change has adverse effects on global health. The displacement of citizens often forces populations to live in unsanitary living conditions and increases the spread of diseases. Other significant health consequences may include depression, anxiety, malnutrition, and lack of proper treatments and medicine. There is an inherent injustice in climate change as greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change are created mainly by wealthy countries and big corporations. Still, the unwanted impacts of climate change are felt primarily by the poor and vulnerable. People living in places affected by violent conflict are particularly susceptible to climate change. Violent conflicts weaken institutions, infrastructure, opportunities, and livelihoods. These assets are necessary to adapt to climate change. The human security framework is well suited to deal with the complexities of climate crises and increase the resilience of vulnerable communities to deal with subsequent consequences. Climate change may lead to a string of new challenges that will shape the conditions of national and international security.


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