10 May 2013

A Threat for Present and Future Generations: Environmental Perspectives on National Security

ETLJB 10 May 2013 - Mahein Nia Lian (Mahein’s Voice) No. 51 analyzes threats against human security and national security for present and future generation of Timor-Leste from the environmental perspective. Fundasaun Mahein (FM) believes that such threats against personal security, economic security, and national security are linked with various dimensions of environmental conditions. These conditions even have implications beyond national security, to regional security and international security.

This is because traditional security terminology became more complex when the United Nations Organization introduced a new concept of security covering food security, human security, and health security. Food security, good sanitation, good shelter, low levels of poverty, low maternal mortality rates, and female participation in society are all parameters for measuring development within this new concept of security.

In Timor-Leste as well, environmental security issues pose challenges for the nation’s future development. Timor-Leste has presented on climate change issues at a high-level event at the United Nations in New York. The presentation stated that poverty was the primary cause of the environmental degradation and was the main contributor of climate change in Timor-Leste.

There are various factors for environmental degradation in Timor-Leste, such as community actions – arising in part from poverty – that place little value on environmental preservation. These actions posing a threat to the environmental security in Timor-Leste include cutting trees for firewood, throwing garbage in improper places, and certain agricultural activities.

Yet this environmental degradation contributes in turn to poverty and poses problems for food security, human security, and health security. Therefore even minimum attention to the environment can affect flooding during the wet season, water availability in the dry season, fertile soil erosion, and ultimately, food security. When food security issues affect the individual, the threats trigger other security issues, becoming threats to economic and health security in the local community and the nation.

Food insecurity (food crisis) is caused by a lack of natural resources and economic resources due to environmental degradation. It can also affect migration patterns within Timor-Leste, and can cause conflict in society as land conflicts over agricultural production.

Recommendations:
1. FM recommends that society become conscious of environmental concerns and to begin conserving the environment for the future generations. FM also recommends that the government continue conducting environmental education programs to community, and evaluating development projects that pose great risks to the environment.

2. FM recommends that the state continue cultural programs such as “Tara Bandu” in order to conserve the environment now and guarantee the sustainability of the environment for future. FM has observed that our environment is at risk for our future generation.

 3. Food insecurity can start from the individual and spread as a threat to economic and health security threats in the community and nation. These threats hold grave implications for political stability and internal security.


Source: Fundasaun Mahein Press Release  8 May 2013 Edited by Warren L. Wright

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