Environmental Change and Security Program - ECSP

Environmental Change and Security Program - ECSP Since 1994, the Woodrow Wilson Center's Environmental Change and Security Program (ECSP) has explored the connections among environmental, health, and population dynamics and their links to conflict, human insecurity, and foreign policy.

The Environmental Change and Security Program (ECSP) is located in the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, in Washington, DC. The Wilson Center is the living, national memorial to President Wilson established by Congress in 1968. It is a nonpartisan institution, supported by public and private funds, engaged in the study of national and world affairs. The Center establishes and maintains a neutral forum for free, open, and informed dialogue.

The Environmental Change and Security Program (ECSP) is located in the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, in Washington, DC. The Wilson Center is the living, national memorial to President Wilson established by Congress in 1968. It is a nonpartisan institution, supported by public and private funds, engaged in the study of national and world affairs. The Center establishes and maintains a neutral forum for free, open, and informed dialogue.

Operating as usual

Take some time this weekend to catch up on your favorites from September.
10/15/2021
The Top 5 Posts of September 2021

Take some time this weekend to catch up on your favorites from September.

New strategies can help the United States develop a more effective approach to climate change. In our top post this month, Cynthia Brady, Liz Hume, and Nick Zuroski explain the need for [...]

A “code red for humanity”— that is how UN Secretary General António Guterres described the future climate scenarios laid...
10/15/2021
Decarbonization in the United States and China: Fast and Furious Enough?

A “code red for humanity”— that is how UN Secretary General António Guterres described the future climate scenarios laid out in the International Panel on Climate Change’s Sixth Assessment Report. According to the report, CO2 in the atmosphere has reached levels unseen in 2 million years, amplifying floods, droughts, and other environmental catastrophes around the world.

A “code red for humanity”— that is how UN Secretary General António Guterres described the future climate scenarios laid out in the International Panel on Climate Change’s Sixth Assessment [...]

Having a new baby should be the happiest time in a family’s life.But it doesn’t always work out that way.During pregnanc...
10/15/2021
Mental Health Conditions Are the Most Common Complication of Pregnancy and Childbirth

Having a new baby should be the happiest time in a family’s life.

But it doesn’t always work out that way.

During pregnancy or the first year following pregnancy, 1 in 5 women or childbearing people will experience anxiety or depression. In fact, mental health issues are the most common complication of pregnancy and childbirth, turning joy into sadness, loneliness, confusion, regret, and guilt.

Having a new baby should be the happiest time in a family’s life.But it doesn’t always work out that way.During pregnancy or the first year following pregnancy, 1 in 5 women or childbearing [...]

International development organizations do not exist outside of global systems of oppression. However virtuous their int...
10/15/2021
Achieving SDG 6.2: Adequate and Equitable Sanitation and Hygiene for Who?

International development organizations do not exist outside of global systems of oppression. However virtuous their intentions, the power held by development actors remains largely in the hands of the western elite, echoing colonial-era global dynamics.

International development organizations do not exist outside of global systems of oppression. However virtuous their intentions, the power held by development actors remains largely in the hands [...]

In December 2020, Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc signed the country’s National Action Plan for Management of ...
10/15/2021
Developing Data-Driven Solutions to Vietnam’s Ocean Plastics Problem

In December 2020, Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc signed the country’s National Action Plan for Management of Marine Plastic, setting an ambitious goal for the government to reduce marine plastic litter by 75 percent by 2030. Recent surveys indicate that plastics are the most prevalent and dangerous form of waste choking Vietnam’s beaches and waterways. Whether polystyrene, discarded nets, or mismanaged single-use plastics, these items are not just an eyesore, but they imperil the local ecosystem and fishing industry in Vietnam.

In December 2020, Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc signed the country’s National Action Plan for Management of Marine Plastic, setting an ambitious goal for the government to reduce [...]

One in five women who is forcibly displaced will experience sexual violence, said Charlotte Slente, Danish Refugee Counc...
10/15/2021
Localized Responses to Gender-Based Violence Leave Women-led Organizations Behind

One in five women who is forcibly displaced will experience sexual violence, said Charlotte Slente, Danish Refugee Council Secretary-General at a roundtable on the prevention of gender-based violence in humanitarian crises during the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly. The high-level roundtable was hosted by the Government of Denmark in partnership with several other international bilateral agencies, as well as women-led organizations.

One in five women who is forcibly displaced will experience sexual violence, said Charlotte Slente, Danish Refugee Council Secretary-General at a roundtable on the prevention of gender-based [...]

To prevent mass extinctions and bolster resilience to climate change, scientists warn that we must protect at least 30 p...
10/15/2021
Fully Protecting the World’s Land, Water, and People Through 30 by 30

To prevent mass extinctions and bolster resilience to climate change, scientists warn that we must protect at least 30 percent of our oceans, lands, rivers, lakes, and wetlands. To safeguard global biodiversity, the “30 by 30” initiative aims to protect 30 percent of land and oceans by 2030. However, commitments on paper are not enough. World leaders must act strategically in implementation to ensure the most crucial ecosystems are protected. Implementation policies for 30 by 30 must also avoid unintentional harm such as exacerbating conflict over resources, excluding Indigenous and local groups from land management, and neglecting environmental protections for the remaining 70 percent of land and oceans.

To prevent mass extinctions and bolster resilience to climate change, scientists warn that we must protect at least 30 percent of our oceans, lands, rivers, lakes, and wetlands. To safeguard [...]

COVID-19 continues to pose a high risk to pregnant people who contract the virus. Despite this concern, hesitancy surrou...
10/15/2021
COVID-19 Vaccine Has No Demonstrated Impact on Miscarriage Rates in the United States, Research Shows

COVID-19 continues to pose a high risk to pregnant people who contract the virus. Despite this concern, hesitancy surrounding the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy remains, write the authors of a preprint article on COVID-19 vaccines and pregnancy outcomes. As COVID-19 vaccines become more widely available, some have raised concerns regarding potential links between receiving a COVID-19 vaccine and experiencing miscarriage (also known as spontaneous abortion), and other adverse outcomes. However, miscarriage is a common occurrence – around 10 to 15 percent of all pregnancies in the United States end in miscarriage – and multiple studies have found no increase in miscarriage in persons who received a COVID-19 vaccine.

COVID-19 continues to pose a high risk to pregnant people who contract the virus. Despite this concern, hesitancy surrounding the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy remains, write [...]

“We produce more than enough food for the world’s population, but more and more people have been growing hungry in recen...
10/15/2021
Food as a Pathway to Peace: COVID, Climate, and the Hunger-Conflict Nexus

“We produce more than enough food for the world’s population, but more and more people have been growing hungry in recent years,” said Kelly McFarland, Director of Programs and Research at the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy (ISD), during a panel discussion on COVID, Conflict, and Climate co-hosted by ISD and the Stimson Center’s Global Governance, Justice & Security, and Food Security Programs.

“We produce more than enough food for the world’s population, but more and more people have been growing hungry in recent years,” said Kelly McFarland, Director of Programs and Research at the [...]

“When we started out, people thought it was weird. ‘Why are you integrating people and animals and why are you integrati...
09/24/2021
Happy World Gorilla Day! A Conversation with Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka on COVID-19’s Impact on Gorilla Conservation and Public Health in Uganda

“When we started out, people thought it was weird. ‘Why are you integrating people and animals and why are you integrating human health and animal health?’” says Kalema-Zikusoka, founder of Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH), in this week’s New Security Broadcast. Indeed, health infrastructure and conservation have long been organized around distinct silos. “Donors were focusing on single sector funding, and government departments were aligned along single sectors,” says Kalema-Zikusoka. #WorldGorillaDay

“When we started out, people thought it was weird. ‘Why are you integrating people and animals and why are you integrating human health and animal health?’” says Kalema-Zikusoka, founder of [...]

As world leaders prepare to gather for the November UN climate change summit in Glasgow, all eyes are on China. As the w...
09/24/2021
Deep Determination: China’s Climate Commitments

As world leaders prepare to gather for the November UN climate change summit in Glasgow, all eyes are on China. As the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, the emission reduction commitments China makes in its second Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC)—a country’s stated climate goals under the Paris Agreement—will provide direction for domestic climate actions and inform international climate cooperation efforts. In a recent Green Development Program report, we examine how China performed under its 2015 NDC and reflect on the targets and supporting policies we might expect to see in its second NDC. The good news? We see huge potential for China to go bigger and bolder in its climate action.

As world leaders prepare to gather for the November UN climate change summit in Glasgow, all eyes are on China. As the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, the emission reduction [...]

If raging wildfires, extreme drought, and superstorms haven’t made it clear, the latest IPCC report tells us in plain la...
09/24/2021
Desperate for Hope? Linking Human Well-Being and Climate Solutions is a Way Forward

If raging wildfires, extreme drought, and superstorms haven’t made it clear, the latest IPCC report tells us in plain language: the world is poised for worsening climate impacts over the next 30 years. The report’s release—during an unprecedented pandemic and natural disasters that magnify the connections between climate, health, livelihoods, and human well-being—is a grim reminder of the fragility of life on Earth. There is hope, however: the winding links between climate, health, and well-being also present tremendous opportunities. What if, collectively, thought leaders, negotiators, practitioners, and policymakers in the climate, health, business, and international development communities could do a better job of advancing solutions that address these crises simultaneously? When climate, poverty alleviation, and human well-being are addressed together, a vision of a better future emerges like a beacon in the night.

If raging wildfires, extreme drought, and superstorms haven’t made it clear, the latest IPCC report tells us in plain language: the world is poised for worsening climate impacts over the next 30 [...]

This summer, climate-induced heat waves ignited landmines and unexploded ordnance buried in the soils around the Middle ...
09/24/2021
Climate Crisis Exacerbates Military Legacy Contamination

This summer, climate-induced heat waves ignited landmines and unexploded ordnance buried in the soils around the Middle East, killing people and causing wildfires. Warmer waters are speeding up erosion of sunken battleships laden with degrading munitions. A melting ice sheet on Greenland has exposed thousands of barrels of toxic waste at abandoned U.S. military bases.

This summer, climate-induced heat waves ignited landmines and unexploded ordnance buried in the soils around the Middle East, killing people and causing wildfires. Warmer waters are speeding up [...]

People’s lives and livelihoods are at stake if China does not cooperate with its regional neighbors over downstream effe...
09/24/2021
Simmering Glacial Geopolitics: Upcoming Crises with Transboundary Water Cooperation on Asia’s Back Burner

People’s lives and livelihoods are at stake if China does not cooperate with its regional neighbors over downstream effects of the Tibetan plateau’s glaciers. The Hindu Kush Himalayas’ (HKH) numerous glaciers are known as the “Water Towers of Asia” and the “Third Pole.” Over 1.9 billion people depend on water systems that stem from HKH glaciers. Climate change will fundamentally alter the hydrology of the water basins—killing or displacing thousands of people as the changes unfold. Asia cannot continue with national or bilateral plans being the primary climate change adaptation strategies: basin-wide cooperation is essential. Unfortunately, conflicts and simmering disputes in the region make this a staggering goal to achieve.

People’s lives and livelihoods are at stake if China does not cooperate with its regional neighbors over downstream effects of the Tibetan plateau’s glaciers. The Hindu Kush Himalayas’ (HKH) [...]

“To inform the most pressing issues of our time, to bring new voices to the policy space, and to help our audience bette...
09/24/2021
Introducing New Security Broadcast

“To inform the most pressing issues of our time, to bring new voices to the policy space, and to help our audience better understand these complex connections and where we can be most effective in our responses, we bring you the New Security Broadcast,” says Lauren Risi, Director of the Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program (ECSP), in today’s launch of ECSP’s new podcast series, New Security Broadcast.

“To inform the most pressing issues of our time, to bring new voices to the policy space, and to help our audience better understand these complex connections and where we can be most effective [...]

Take some time to catch up on your favorites from August.
09/24/2021
The Top 5 Posts of August 2021

Take some time to catch up on your favorites from August.

Cambodia’s Prey Lang rainforest is climate-critical and supports the livelihood of its Indigenous Kuy population. Recently, U.S.-led efforts to protect the forest have withdrawn as the Cambodian [...]

Indonesia generates nearly 7 million tons of plastic waste each year but only 10 percent of that is recycled. The propor...
09/24/2021
The Apps Helping Indonesia’s Waste Collectors

Indonesia generates nearly 7 million tons of plastic waste each year but only 10 percent of that is recycled. The proportion is even lower in rural areas due to a lack of collection facilities. Waste is often burned or dumped on vacant land, and into rivers, lakes, and seas.

Indonesia generates nearly 7 million tons of plastic waste each year but only 10 percent of that is recycled. The proportion is even lower in rural areas due to a lack of collection facilities. [...]

A positive birth experience is not a luxury, but a necessity, said Hedieh Mehrtash, consultant for the Department of Sex...
09/24/2021
Respectful Maternity Care and Maternal Mental Health are Inextricably Linked

A positive birth experience is not a luxury, but a necessity, said Hedieh Mehrtash, consultant for the Department of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Research at the World Health Organization (WHO), at a panel during the Maternal Mental Health Technical Consultation hosted by the United States Agency for International Development’s MOMENTUM Country and Global Leadership, in collaboration with WHO and the United Nations Population Fund.

A positive birth experience is not a luxury, but a necessity, said Hedieh Mehrtash, consultant for the Department of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Research at the World Health Organization [...]

The world needs strategic foresight now more than ever, and not just because of the COVID-19 global pandemic. Mounting c...
09/24/2021
International Foresight Takes Flight: OECD-DAC Led Foresight Community Grows and Spotlights New Cooperation Scenarios

The world needs strategic foresight now more than ever, and not just because of the COVID-19 global pandemic. Mounting climate crises across the globe underscore the need—blistering “heat domes” and extensive wildfires across the parched United States West, catastrophic floods of unprecedented scale in Germany and Europe, and more rain in just twenty-four hours in Zhengzhou China than typically falls over the course of an entire year. Scientists warn that for the first time, deforestation now threatens the capacity of the Amazon forest to absorb carbon dioxide. Foresight is no longer a luxury and climate change is no longer a distant threat.

The world needs strategic foresight now more than ever, and not just because of the COVID-19 global pandemic. Mounting climate crises across the globe underscore the need—blistering “heat domes” [...]

Achieving Sustainable Development Goal 6.1 for safe, sufficient, and available water has always been important. Compound...
09/24/2021
Securing Water for All Is Urgent, but Impossible if We Ignore Housing Inequalities

Achieving Sustainable Development Goal 6.1 for safe, sufficient, and available water has always been important. Compounding challenges—from climate change and increasing migration within and across borders to COVID-19 and its multiple variants—makes achieving the human right to water more urgent. But what is often missed in discussions related to water access is that what determines access to safe and sufficient water is about more than gaps in governance or lack of funding—it is intertwined with entrenched inequality in societies, including the planning of urban spaces.

Achieving Sustainable Development Goal 6.1 for safe, sufficient, and available water has always been important. Compounding challenges—from climate change and increasing migration within and [...]

“Many people have watched fights between communities and big corporations around the world. The corporations usually win...
09/24/2021
The Water Defenders: How Ordinary People Saved a Country from Corporate Greed : A Conversation with Co-authors Robin Broad and John Cavanagh

“Many people have watched fights between communities and big corporations around the world. The corporations usually win so those are the Goliath. The Davids usually lose,” says John Cavanagh, co-author of The Water Defenders: How Ordinary People Saved a Country from Corporate Greed. In this week’s episode of Friday Podcasts, Cavanagh and co-author Robin Broad recount how local activists mobilized a global coalition of religious leaders, labor unions, and environmental activists to block an international corporation from opening a gold mine that threatened El Salvador’s fragile water supply.

“Many people have watched fights between communities and big corporations around the world. The corporations usually win so those are the Goliath. The Davids usually lose,” says John Cavanagh, [...]

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