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in dislocations and displacements (Khagram, 2004), or as a negative consequence of rapid urbanization and the associated pollution, intergroup struggles, and crime (Evans, 2002). Through myriad interregional and international linkages, via political, economic, financial, sociocultural, military, public health, and environmental systems, human insecurities in one part of the world will affect the security of communities and economies in other parts (e.g., Adger et al., 2009b).

Research on human security and the environment has highlighted issues of equity, fairness, and human dignity, and especially the condition of women, because interacting socioeconomic and environmental stresses are experienced most severely by those who are most vulnerable (e.g., Adger et al., 2006; O’Brien et al., 2008). Related research has helped advance understanding of barriers and limits to adaptation (e.g., Adger et al., 2009b). Efforts are currently under way to synthesize a 10-year research effort on Global Environmental Change and Human Security (IHDP, 2009). Already this effort has identified conditions needed to maintain or restore human security, including effective governance systems, healthy and resilient ecosystems, comprehensive and sustained disaster risk-management efforts, empowerment of individuals and local institutions, and supportive values. Existing scientific insight is available, and further use-inspired social science research is needed, to inform the establishment of international mechanisms for effective, verifiable, accountable, and just efforts to limit and adapt to climate change. Such mechanisms have been found to be critical to the ability of communities anywhere to pursue sustainable livelihoods, meet fundamental human needs, secure human rights, and ultimately to ensure that climate change does not disrupt the natural environment so severely that it can no longer support the adequate and safe provision of ecosystem goods and services essential to human life and well-being (MEA, 2005).


Many plausible mechanisms of environment-security interaction have been proposed, but few have been carefully tested through research. Security scholars have cautioned against facile assumptions of cause and effect, and suggested that more focused and critical research into causal links between climate and environmental stresses and human conflict is needed (e.g., Barnett, 2003, 2009; Dabelko, 2009; Dalby, 2009; Liverman, 2009). Research in the following areas would help to solidify understanding of these linkages and project the future security implications of climate change with greater confidence.

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