Zoi Environment Network, Geneva
If not addressed and resolved, environmental problems – water shortages,
land degradation, pollution – can become security threats. In this respect the
Mediterranean is one of the world’s most vulnerable areas. Its basic climat-
ic and environmental features, combined with its cultural, geopolitical and
economic complexity, have high potential for social and political instability.
If the economic disparity between north and south continues to increase
and if the impacts of climate change on the region turn out as predicted, the
risk of conflict will affect the whole region, perhaps the whole world.
At times of economic crisis the conflict poten- These challenges are paramount and, in our
tial of southern Mediterranean countries is opinion, all proposed solutions must address the
twofold: on the one hand, migrants returning environmental dimension. Several international
home will stop sending remittances, which will organizations and research bodies have conse-
jeopardize the stability of societies heavily de- quently joined forces in the proposed MEDSEC
pendant on such income; on the other hand, partnership to explore and map environment
the former migrants will increase pressure on and security in the Southern Mediterranean.
an already stressed environment, perhaps in- Work focuses on the factors that damage the en-
ducing others to migrate. vironment, ultimately affecting security, but also
looks at how, on the contrary, the environment
Southern Mediterranean countries are increas- could become a catalyst for cooperation.
ingly concerned about energy security too:
some of them are major exporters of oil and Three pillars of thinking and institutional coop-
natural gas, so any drop in demand, prompted eration form the basis of MEDSEC:
by policies designed to reduce greenhouse gas
emissions would have a negative effect on their . International organizations, such as UNEP,
economies. At the same time scope for supply- the EU and the OSCE in addressing issues of
ing northern neighbours with “clean” solar en- environment and security world-wide and in
ergy may be thwarted by some countries’ plans Europe’s neighbourhood in particular. The ENV-
to develop nuclear power. SEC initiative (www.envsec.org) has pioneered