Chairman Feinstein, Vice Chairman Chambliss and distinguished members of the committee, as you indicated, we're here to present the 2013 worldwide threat assessment.
This year we include natural resources as a factor affecting national security, because shifts in human geography, climate, disease, and competition for natural resources have national security implications.
Many countries that are extremely important to U.S. interests, which sit in already volatile areas of the world, are living with extreme water and food stress that can destabilize governments. This includes Afghanistan and Pakistan in South Asia, Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Libya in the Arab world, and many other nation-states across Africa and in our own hemisphere. Water challenges include not only problems with quality and quantity but with flooding. Some countries will almost certainly exert leverage over their neighbors to preserve their own water interests. And water infrastructure can be considered a viable target for terrorists.
In the United States, Germany and Japan, less than 15 percent of household expenditures are for food. In India and China, that figure climbs to more than 20 percent. In Egypt, Vietnam and Nigeria, it rises to greater than 35 percent. And in Algeria, Pakistan and Azerbaijan, more than 45 percent of household expenses are just for food.
Terrorists, militants and international crime groups are certain to use declining local food security to gain legitimacy and undermine government authority. Intentional introduction of a livestock or plant disease could be a greater threat to the United States and the global food system than a direct attack on food supplies intended to kill humans. So there will almost assuredly be security concerns with respect to health and pandemics, energy and climate change. Environmental stresses are not just humanitarian issues. They legitimately threaten regional stability.
South Asia’s vulnerability to climate change and associated fragility risks calls for a regional approach to climate services. Different actors need to cooperate to share actionable climate information—the security architecture in the region would benefit.
With cities continuously more threatened by climate change-induced disasters, urban planning’s reflex response is to protect cities against nature. But what if the solution lies in working with nature instead against it? Architect Kongjiang Yu invites readers to imagine what cities could look like if they took into account ancient wisdom on spatial planning.
During the past two weeks, Antigua & Barbuda, Nicaragua and Panama ratified the Escazú Agreement, giving a major boost to the unprecedented and innovative Latin American pact that seeks to reduce social conflicts and protect frontline communities in the world’s deadliest region for environmental defenders.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres outlined priorities for the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP 26) during a briefing at UN Headquarters. The briefing was hosted by the UK, which will be assuming the COP 26 presidency in partnership with Italy. COP 26 is scheduled to convene from 9-20 November 2020, in Glasgow, UK.