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.
Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan are currently engaged in vital talks over the dispute relating to the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Nile River. While non-African actors are increasingly present in the negotiations, the African Union (AU) is playing a marginal role.
Climate change was more central than ever at this year’s Munich Security Conference (MSC), the leading international forum for senior military, security and foreign policy leaders. The release of the inaugural “World Climate and Security Report 2020” (WCSR 2020) by the Expert Group of the International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS) should help policymakers take effective action.
The mission of the Munich Security Conference is to “address the world’s most pressing security concerns”. These days, that means climate security: climate change is the ultimate threat multiplier, and anyone discussing food security, political instability, migration, or competition over resources should be aware of the climate change pressures that are so often at the root of security problems.
The European Green Deal has made the environment and climate change the focus of EU action. Indeed, climate change impacts are already increasing the pressure on states and societies; however, it is not yet clear how the EU can engage on climate security and environmental peacemaking. In this light, and in the run-up to the German EU Council Presidency, adelphi and its partners are organising a roundtable series on “Climate, environment, peace: Priorities for EU external action in the decade ahead”.