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.
Extreme weather events such as droughts and floods are expected to become more severe under future climate conditions. This implies a concern for policymakers in national and international security.
A major challenge in the field of environmental peacebuilding is showing the impact of its initiatives. Questions emerge, such as "Which dimensions of post-conflict peacebuilding are more likely to be affected by natural resource management projects?". Although quantitative studies assess the relation between natural resource management programmes and conflict risks, there is less research on what the specific mechanisms involved in implementing projects designed for environmental peacebuilding are.
Chatham House's International Affairs Journal has just released a special issue focused on environmental peacebuilding. adelphi Managing Director Alexander Carius, alongside Tobias Ide, Carl Bruch, Ken Conca, Geoffrey Dabelko, Richard Matthew and Erika Weinthal, introduces the special issue giving particular emphasis on environmental opportunities for building and sustaining peace.
A lack of targeted policies to manage climate migration in South Asia is aggravating the vulnerabilities of various communities in the region. International and regional cooperation and strategy on climate action (broadly) and climate migration (specifically) is the need of the hour.