Human Security
Coordinating Lead Authors:
W. Neil Adger (UK), Juan M. Pulhin (Philippines)
Lead Authors:
Jon Barnett (Australia), Geoffrey D. Dabelko (USA), Grete K. Hovelsrud (Norway), Marc Levy
(USA), Úrsula Oswald Spring (Mexico), Coleen H. Vogel (South Africa)
Contributing Authors:
Helen Adams (UK), Jennifer Hodbod (UK), Stuart Kent (Australia), Marcela Tarazona
Review Editors:
Paulina Aldunce (Chile), Robin Leichenko (USA)
Volunteer Chapter Scientist:
Marcela Tarazona (Colombia)
This chapter should be cited as:
, W.N., J.M. Pulhin, J. Barnett, G.D. Dabelko, G.K. Hovelsrud, M. Levy, Ú. Oswald Spring, and C.H. Vogel,
2014: Human security. In: Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Part A: Global and
Sectoral Aspects. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change [Field, C.B., V.R. Barros, D.J. Dokken, K.J. Mach, M.D. Mastrandrea, T.E. Bilir,
M. Chatterjee, K.L. Ebi, Y.O. Estrada, R.C. Genova, B. Girma, E.S. Kissel, A.N. Levy, S. MacCracken,
P.R. Mastrandrea, and L.L. White (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and
New York, NY, USA, pp. 755-791.
Executive Summary ........................................................................................................................................................... 758
12.1. Definition and Scope of Human Security ................................................................................................................ 759
Box 12-1. Relationship between Human Rights and Human Security in the Context of Climate Change ................................... 759
Box 12-2. The Nature of Evidence about Climate Change and Human Security ......................................................................... 760
12.2. Economic and Livelihood Dimensions of Human Security at Risk from Climate Change ....................................... 761
12.2.1. Climate Change Impacts on Material Aspects of Livelihood Security ................................................................................................ 761
12.2.2. Adaptation Actions and Livelihood Dimensions of Human Security .................................................................................................. 762
12.3. Cultural Dimensions of Human Security ................................................................................................................. 762
12.3.1. How Culture Interacts with Climate Impacts and Adaptation ........................................................................................................... 762
Box. 12-3. Food Prices, Food Insecurity, and Links to Climate .................................................................................................... 763
12.3.2. Indigenous Peoples ........................................................................................................................................................................... 765
12.3.3. Local and Traditional Forms of Knowledge ....................................................................................................................................... 765
12.4. Migration and Mobility Dimensions of Human Security ......................................................................................... 766
12.4.1. Impacts of Climate Change on Displacement, Migration, and Mobility ............................................................................................ 766 Nature of Evidence on Climate Change and Migration ..................................................................................................... 766 Potential Pathways from Climate Change to Migration ..................................................................................................... 767 Migration Trends and Long-Term Climate Change ............................................................................................................. 768
12.4.2. Migration as an Adaptation to Climate Change Impacts .................................................................................................................. 770
Box 12-4. Evidence on the Existence of Environmental Migrants and International Policy for Their Protection ....................... 771
12.5. Climate Change and Armed Conflict ....................................................................................................................... 771
12.5.1. Climate Change as a Cause of Conflict ............................................................................................................................................. 771
Box 12-5. Climate and the Multiple Causes of Conflict in Darfur ............................................................................................... 773
12.5.2. Conflict and Insecurity Associated with Climate Policy Responses ................................................................................................... 773
12.5.3. Violent Conflict and Vulnerability to Climate Change ....................................................................................................................... 774
12.5.4. Peace-Building Activities in Promoting Adaptation ........................................................................................................................... 775
12.6. State Integrity and Geopolitical Rivalry ................................................................................................................. 775
12.6.1. Critical Infrastructure and State Capacity ......................................................................................................................................... 775
12.6.2. Geopolitical Issues ............................................................................................................................................................................ 775
Box 12-6. Evidence on Security and Geopolitical Dimensions of Climate Change Impacts in the Arctic ................................... 776
12.7. Synthesis .................................................................................................................................................................. 777
References.......................................................................................................................................................................... 779
Table of Contents
Human Security Chapter 12
Frequently Asked Questions
12.1: What are the principal threats to human security from climate change? ......................................................................................... 762
12.2: Can lay knowledge of environmental risks help adaptation to climate change? .............................................................................. 766
12.3: How many people could be displaced as a result of climate change? .............................................................................................. 768
12.4: What role does migration play in adaptation to climate change, particularly in vulnerable regions? ............................................... 770
12.5: Will climate change cause war between countries? ......................................................................................................................... 772
Chapter 12 Human Security
Executive Summary
Human security will be progressively threatened as the climate changes (robust evidence, high agreement). Human insecurity
almost never has single causes, but instead emerges from the interaction of multiple factors. {12.1.2, 12.2} Climate change is an important factor
threatening human security through (1) undermining livelihoods {12.2}; (2) compromising culture and identity {12.3}; (3) increasing migration that
people would rather have avoided {12.4}; and (4) challenging the ability of states to provide the conditions necessary for human security. {12.6}
Climate change will compromise the cultural values that are important for community and individual well-being (medium evidence,
high agreement). The effect of climate change on culture will vary across societies and over time, depending on cultural resilience and the
mechanisms for maintaining and transferring knowledge. Changing weather and climatic conditions threaten cultural practices embedded in
livelihoods and expressed in narratives, world views, identity, community cohesion, and sense of place. Loss of land and displacement, for
example on small islands and coastal communities, has well documented negative cultural and well-being impacts. {12.3.1, 12.3.3, 12.4.2}
Indigenous, local, and traditional forms of knowledge are a major resource for adapting to climate change (robust evidence, high
agreement). Natural resource dependent communities, including indigenous peoples, have a long history of adapting to highly variable and
changing social and ecological conditions. But the salience of indigenous, local, and traditional knowledge will be challenged by climate
change impacts. Such forms of knowledge are often neglected in policy and research, and their mutual recognition and integration with
scientific knowledge will increase the effectiveness of adaptation. {12.3.3-4}
Climate change will have significant impacts on forms of migration that compromise human security (medium evidence, high
agreement). Some migration flows are sensitive to changes in resource availability and ecosystem services. Major extreme weather events have in
the past led to significant population displacement, and changes in the incidence of extreme events will amplify the challenges and risks of such
displacement. Many vulnerable groups do not have the resources to be able to migrate to avoid the impacts of floods, storms, and droughts. Models,
scenarios, and observations suggest that coastal inundation and loss of permafrost can lead to migration and resettlement. {12.4.2} Migrants
themselves may be vulnerable to climate change impacts in destination areas, particularly in urban centers in developing countries. {}
Mobility is a widely used strategy to maintain livelihoods in response to social and environmental changes (medium evidence,
high agreement). Migration and mobility are adaptation strategies in all regions of the world that experience climate variability. Specific
populations that lack the ability to move also face higher exposure to weather-related extremes, particularly in rural and urban areas in low-
and middle-income countries. Expanding opportunities for mobility can reduce vulnerability to climate change and enhance human security.
{12.4.1-2} There is insufficient evidence to judge the effectiveness of resettlement as an adaptation to climate change.
Some of the factors that increase the risk of violent conflict within states are sensitive to climate change (medium evidence,
medium agreement). The evidence on the effect of climate change and variability on violence is contested. {12.5.1} Although there is little
agreement about direct causality, low per capita incomes, economic contraction, and inconsistent state institutions are associated with the
incidence of violence. {12.5.1} These factors can be sensitive to climate change and variability. Poorly designed adaptation and mitigation
strategies can increase the risk of violent conflict. {12.5.2}
People living in places affected by violent conflict are particularly vulnerable to climate change (medium evidence, high agreement).
Evidence shows that large-scale violent conflict harms infrastructure, institutions, natural capital, social capital, and livelihood opportunities.
Since these assets facilitate adaptation to climate change, there are grounds to infer that conflict strongly influences vulnerability to climate
change impacts. {12.5.3}
Climate change will lead to new challenges to states and will increasingly shape both conditions of security and national security
policies (medium evidence, medium agreement).
Physical aspects of climate change, such as sea level rise, extreme events, and hydrologic
disruptions, pose major challenges to vital transport, water, and energy infrastructure. {12.6} Some states are experiencing major challenges to
their territorial integrity, including small island states and other states highly vulnerable to sea level rise. {12.6.2} Some transboundary impacts of
climate change, such as changes in sea ice, shared water resources, and the migration of fish stocks, have the potential to increase rivalry among
states. The presence of robust institutions can manage many of these rivalries such that human security is not severely eroded. {12.5.1, 12.6.2}
Human Security Chapter 12
12.1. Definition and Scope of Human Security
There are many definitions of human security, which vary according to
discipline. This chapter defines human security, in the context of climate
change, as a condition that exists when the vital core of human lives is
protected, and when people have the freedom and capacity to live with
dignity. In this assessment, the vital core of human lives includes the
universal and culturally specific, material and non-material elements
necessary for people to act on behalf of their interests. Many phenomena
influence human security, notably the operation of markets, the state,
and civil society. Poverty, discrimination of many kinds, and extreme
natural and technological disasters undermine human security.
The concept of human security has been informed and debated by many
disciplines and multiple lines of evidence, by studies that use diverse
methods (Paris, 2001; Alkire, 2003; Owen, 2004; Gasper, 2005; Hoogensen
and Stuvøy, 2006; Mahoney and Pinedo, 2007; Brauch et al., 2009;
Inglehart and Norris, 2012). The concept was developed in parallel by
UN institutions, and by scholars and advocates in every region of the
world (UNDP, 1994; Commission on Human Security, 2003; Najam, 2003;
Kaldor, 2007; Black and Swatuk, 2009; Chourou, 2009; Othman, 2009;
Poku and Sandkjaer, 2009; Rojas, 2009; Sabur, 2009; Wun Gaeo, 2009).
This chapter assesses the risks climate change poses to individuals and
communities, including threats to livelihoods, culture, and political
stability. Chapters in Working Group II (WGII) in the Fourth Assessment
Report (AR4) identified the risk climate change poses to livelihoods,
cultures, and indigenous peoples globally (Chapters 5, 7, 9 10, 16, and
17) and that migration and violent conflicts increase vulnerability to
climate change (Chapter 19), as well as highlighting that migration plays
a role in adaptation. But this chapter is the first systematic assessment
across the dimensions of human security.
Research since publication of the AR4 has addressed the linkages between
climate change and human security through concerted international
research programs and initiatives (Afifi and Jäger, 2010; Matthew et
l., 2010; O’Brien et al., 2010; Gleditsch, 2012; Oswald Spring, 2012;
Scheffran et al., 2012a; Sygna et al., 2013). Specific dimensions of
human security, such as food security, public health and well-being,
livelihoods, and regional perspectives, are examined systematically in
Chapters 11, 13, and 19, and in Chapters 22 to 29 of this report, and
this chapter cross-refers to those assessments.
The assessment in this chapter is based on structured reviews of scientific
literature. These were carried out first using searches of scientific
databases of relevant studies published from 2000 until 2013, with
searches targeted at the core dimensions of culture, indigenous peoples,
traditional knowledge, migration, conflict, and transboundary resources.
These searches were supplemented by open searches to capture book
and other non-journal literature. The comprehensive review in this chapter
reflects the dominant findings from the scientific literature that the
impacts of climate change on livelihoods, cultures, migration, and conflict
are negative, but that some dimensions of human security are less
sensitive to climate change and driven by economic and social forces.
This chapter assesses research on how climate change may exacerbate
specific threats to human security, and how factors such as lack of
mobility or the presence of conflict restrict the ability to adapt to climate
change. Research on the specific interaction of human security and
climate change focuses on how cultural, demographic, economic, and
political forces interact with direct and indirect climate change impacts,
affecting individuals and communities (Krause and Jütersonke, 2005;
Hoogensen and Stuvøy, 2006; O’Brien, 2006; Betancourt et al., 2010;
Sygna et al., 2013). The analysis concerns drivers of vulnerability across
multiple scales and sectors, including gender relations, culture, political
institutions, and markets. Each of these areas has its distinct disciplinary
focus, methods, and levels of evidence as discussed in Box 12-2.
Human security and insecurity are universal issues. In every country there
are individuals and groups who are insecure (Mahoney and Pinedo,
2007; Pietsch and McAllister, 2010). Much research suggests that while
the impacts of climate change on human security will be experienced
Box 12-1 | Relationship between Human Rights and Human Security in the Context of Climate Change
This chapter focuses on human security, but does not explicitly frame the issue as one of rights. The argument is made in political and
legal scholarship that human rights to life, health, shelter, and food are fundamentally breached by the impacts of climate change.
Climate change puts both human security and human rights at risk (Slade, 2007; Caney, 2010; Humphreys, 2010). But framing the
issue of rights specifies minimum standards that apply universally, and such rights are often not realized in national and international
law and practice or neglect the harm or rights of nonhuman species (Humphreys, 2010; Bell, 2013). Human security by contrast is
inclusive of political, sociocultural, and economic rights, rather than legal rights (CHS, 2003), which are instrumental to its achievement
(Bell, 2013).
Research on climate change risks to human rights examines legal issues in policy, litigation, and compensation (Posner, 2007). Many
legal commentators argue that claims to human rights may ultimately not offer greater explanation of the harm to individuals or
realize political traction in climate policy (Carlane and Depledge, 2007; Adelman, 2010; Bodansky, 2010). Several cases have tested
these rights, especially of women, children, indigenous peoples, and other minorities (Oswald Spring, 2008; Knox, 2009; Bodansky,
Chapter 12 Human Security
most in developing countries, human security is at risk for vulnerable
populations everywhere (Naess et al., 2006; Leichenko and O’Brien, 2008;
Berrang-Ford et al., 2011).
The chapter also evaluates research on the interaction between the
state and human security, suggesting that increased human insecurity
may coincide with a decline in the capacity of states to conduct effective
adaptation efforts, thus creating circumstances in which there is greater
potential for violent conflict, especially in the absence of means to resolve
conflicts effectively. The analysis extends to assess how states protect
the human security of their citizens. In other words, this chapter examines
the security of the state because it directly impinges on human security
by affecting the ability of states to protect their citizens.
The framing of climate change as a security issue has been controversial.
Some authors suggest that discourses on climate change and national
security tend to downplay human security dimensions and skew mitigation
and adaptation responses toward state interests rather than those of
Box 12-2 | The Nature of Evidence about Climate Change and Human Security
Understanding the effects of climate change on human security requires evidence about social and environmental processes across
multiple scales and sectors. This process-based analysis is informed by a wide array of theories, methods, and evidence used in different
academic disciplines, and so is not contiguous. For example, this chapter assesses anthropological research where culture influences
responses to climate change or may be shaped by climate change; alongside political and economic studies which use data sets to
test for correlations between climatic factors and violent conflicts; and historical observations using documentary and archaeological
methods. These diverse sources strengthen the robustness of the conclusions for this assessment when they converge on similar
findings (Van de Noort, 2011; Nielsen and Reenberg, 2012).
This chapter reviews empirical studies from the social and physical sciences using both quantitative and qualitative data. Some studies
examine the interactions between environmental changes and social outcomes. Few explicitly address climate change and human
security links, but provide evidence of climate change impacts on human security (Ford et al., 2010). Individual case studies often
make causal claims in given contexts, but their results may not be generalized. Where results from multiple comparative case studies
agree, generalization is sometimes possible. This chapter also assesses quantitative studies about large social units with correlations
among different factors. Correlations alone do not explain causality, although they are important in testing theories.
Given the many and complex links between climate change and human security, uncertainties in the research on the biophysical
dimensions of climate change, and the nature of the social science, highly confident statements about the influence of climate
change on human security are not possible (Scheffran et al., 2012a). Yet there is good evidence about many of the discrete links in
the chains of causality between climate change and human insecurity. In this chapter the standardized IPCC language of uncertainty
is applied to those linkages where appropriate.
Many climate change risks to human security warrant further investigation. There is a need for more comprehensive evidence,
collected across multiple locations, and over long durations, to build and test theories about relationships between climate change
and livelihoods, culture, migration, and conflict. Meeting this need requires analysis of the sensitivity of diverse livelihood systems to
climate change; and the effects of cultural, economic, and political changes on the vulnerability and adaptability of livelihoods. Questions
surrounding the cultural dimensions of climate require much more research using multiple methods to enable more general conclusions
to be drawn, in particular about the effects of culture on climate change mitigation and adaptation. The sensitivity of human mobility
to climate also requires new investigation, including, importantly, systematic long-term monitoring of population changes. The effects
of migration on the vulnerability and adaptation of migrants, migrant sending areas, and destination communities also warrants
more research, to permit scope for targeted policy interventions to reduce vulnerability. Finally, with respect to advancing knowledge
of climate change and violence, extensive as well as case-based research is necessary to build theories of causality, including
examination of cases where climate changes and variability were managed peacefully, in addition to cases where conflict emerged.
Explanations of processes that reduce violence despite climate variability and change are necessary for responses that help sustain
and improve peace in a future where the climate is changing.
Human Security Chapter 12
he most vulnerable human populations (Barnett 2007, 2009; Floyd,
2008; Brauch, 2009; Dalby, 2009; Verhoeven, 2009; Trombetta, 2012;
Oels, 2013). Nevertheless, some countries associate climate change risks
with conventional security risks and many countries are concerned
about the risks climate change poses to relations between states (see
Sections 12.5 and 12.6). This chapter therefore adopts a comprehensive
approach to human security, which is widely supported in the literature
(Barnett, 2001; Brauch et al., 2008, 2009, 2011; Matthew et al., 2010;
O’Brien et al., 2010; Oswald Spring, 2012).
12.2. Economic and Livelihood Dimensions
of Human Security at Risk from
Climate Change
12.2.1. Climate Change Impacts
on Material Aspects of Livelihood Security
The direct and material aspects of livelihood security include access to
food, housing, clean water, employment, and the avoidance of direct risks
o health. Chapters 7, 11, and 13 assess the evidence of the mechanisms
that link climate change with these phenomena. They find that climate
change poses significant risks in all these areas and all conclude that
material aspects of life and livelihood such as food, water, and shelter
are closely coupled to weather and climate but also to multiple factors
in the economy and society (Battisti and Naylor, 2009; Bohle, 2009;
Hertel et al., 2010; Schlenker and Lobell, 2010; Deligiannis, 2012; see
also Section 13.1.4). Hence, although attributing changes in climate
directly to human security is difficult, some major risks are well
documented. This chapter builds on that knowledge base to assess the
interaction of those risks with cultural dimensions of change, and the
risks of migration and conflict. It is well established that direct risks of
climate change to life and livelihoods are highly differentiated by socio-
demographic factors, such as by age, wealth, and gender. Box CC-GC,
for example, highlights how specific populations of men and women
are vulnerable to weather extremes.
Table 12-1 summarizes studies that exemplify how climate variability
and change affect the material aspect of human security through
deprivation of immediate basic needs and erosion of livelihood assets
Dimensions of impact
Illustrative examples of observed impacts
due to aggravating climate stresses
Illustrative examples of potential changes
in livelihoods and capabilities as a consequence
of climate variability and climate change
Deprivation of
basic needs
Livelihood assets Household assets such as livestock sold or lost during drought: documented
examples are the 1999 2000 drought, Ethiopia, and 1999 2004 drought,
Afghanistan (Carter et al., 2007; de Weijer 2007).
Riverbank erosion, oods, and groundwater depletion and salinization are
associated with changed hydrological regimes and cause loss of agricultural
land (Paul and Routray, 2010; Taylor et al., 2013).
Simulated future climate volatility leads to reduced future production of staple
grains and increases in poverty (Ahmed et al., 2009).
Changes in the viability of livestock feed crops have an impact on smallholder
farmers: maize yields are projected to decline in many regions (Jones and
Thornton, 2003; Section 7.4).
Projections of land loss, riverbank erosion, and groundwater depletion, in
combination with environmental change and human interventions, suggest
future stress on livelihood assets (Le et al., 2007; Taylor et al., 2013).
Water stress and
Glacier retreat leads to lower river ows and hence affects water stress and
livelihoods, representing a cultural loss (Orlove et al., 2008). For example,
glacier recession in the Cordillera Blanca in Peru has altered the hydrological
regime with implications for local livelihoods and water availability
downstream (Mark et al., 2010).
Projected stresses to water availability show increased populations without
sustainable access to safe drinking water (Hadipuro, 2007).
Projected reduction in glacier extent and the associated loss of a hydrological
buffer is expected to increase (Vuille, 2008; Section 3.4.4).
Loss of property
and residence
Floods destroy shelter and properties and curtail ability to meet basic needs.
For example, the Fiji fl ood in 2009 resulted in economic losses of F$24
million affecting at least 15% of farm households (Lal, 2010).
Sea level rise and increased frequency of extreme events increases the
risk of loss of lives, homes, and properties and damages infrastructure and
transport systems (Adrianto and Matsuda, 2002; Suarez et al., 2005; Philips
and Jones, 2006; Ashton et al., 2008; Von Storch et al., 2008).
Changes in ood risk may increase and cause economic damages: in the
Netherlands, the total amount of urban area that can potentially be ooded
has increased sixfold during the 20th century and may double again during
the 21st century (de Moel et al., 2011). In England and Wales, projected
changes in ood risk mean economic damages may increase up to 20 times
by the 2080s (Hall et al., 2003).
Erosion of
and human
Agriculture and
food security
Interaction of climate change with poverty and other political, social,
institutional, and environmental factors may adversely affect agriculture
production and exacerbate the problem of food insecurity (Downing, 2002;
Saldana-Zorrilla, 2008; Trotman et al., 2009). Examples include in Kenya
(Oluoko-Odingo, 2011); in Southern Africa (Drimie and Gillespie, 2010); in
Zimbabwe and Zambia (Mubaya et al., 2012).
Studies of African agriculture using diverse climate scenarios indicate
increasing temperature and rainfall variation have negative impacts on crops
and livestock production and lead to increased poverty, vulnerability, and loss
of livelihoods. Examples include Ethiopia (Deressa and Hassan, 2009); Kenya
(Kabubo-Mariara, 2009); Burkina Faso, Egypt, Kenya, and South Africa (Molua
et al., 2010); and sub-Saharan Africa (Jones and Thornton, 2009).
Potential livelihood insecurity among small-scale rain-fed maize farmers in
Mexico is projected owing to potential loss of traditional seed sources in
periods of climate stress (Bellona et al., 2011).
Human capital
(health, education,
loss of lives)
Food shortage, absence of safe and reliable access to clean water and good
sanitary conditions, and destruction of shelters and displacements all have
a negative bearing on human health (Costello et al., 2009; Sections 11.4
and 11.8).
Droughts and oods can intensify the pressure to transfer children to the
labor market (Ethiopia and Malawi; UNDP, 2007).
Indian women born during a drought or fl ood in the 1970s were 19% less
likely to ever attend primary school, when compared with women of the
same age who were not affected by natural disasters (UNDP, 2007).
Analysis of the economic and climatic impacts of three emission scenarios and
three tax scenarios estimates the impacts on food productivity and malaria
infection to be very severe in some Asian countries (Kainuma et al., 2004).
Studies of the impacts of future oods using a combination of socioeconomic
and climate change scenarios for developed countries show an increase in
mortality. For example, in the Netherlands, sea level rise, combined with other
factors, potentially increases the number of fatalities four times by 2040
(Maaskant et al., 2009).
Table 12-1 | Illustrative examples of impacts of climate variability and change on immediate basic needs and longer term capabilities and assets from observational studies and
from projections.
Chapter 12 Human Security
and human capabilities. There are well-established links from climate
variability and change to the stability of agriculture and food security,
water stress and scarcity, as well as destruction of property (Carter et
al., 2007; Leary et al., 2008; Paavola, 2008; Peras et al., 2008; Tang et
al., 2009). Projections using various socioeconomic and climate change
scenarios indicate an increase in economic and health risks, including
loss of lives in all regions (Hall et al., 2003; Kainuma et al., 2004; Tang
et al., 2009) as well as a range of psychological stresses accompanying
extreme climate events and decreased access to ecosystem resources
(e.g., Doherty and Clayton, 2011). The cross chapter box on Heat Stress
(Box CC-HS), for example, documents the evidence on the impacts of
heat stress on both labor productivity and on health outcomes.
Modeled and observational analysis of human exposure to climate-
related natural disasters finds significant risk of large human losses,
particularly in countries with significant populations in poverty (Peduzzi
et al., 2009; Busby et al., 2013). Table 12-1, and the analysis in cognate
chapters (Sections 7.3, 11.3, 13.2.2), shows that risks are significant and
well understood though there is uncertainty about how dimensions of
basic needs, livelihoods, and the integrity of place and economic assets
will unfold under scenarios of climate change. Those cognate chapters
confirm that elements of nutrition, economic stability, and threats to
shelter and human health interact with each other and all represent
significant challenges for adaptation. Following from this body of
evidence, a number of studies conclude that adverse impacts of climate
change on health and on human capital will lead to the erosion of
human capability (UNDP, 2007; Costello et al., 2009).
12.2.2. Adaptation Actions and Livelihood
Dimensions of Human Security
Adaptation strategies seek to reduce vulnerability and thereby advance
human security. But they also run the risk of exacerbating elements of
insecurity (e.g., Deligiannis, 2012; see also Section 12.2.2). Evaluations
of development interventions, for example, provide robust evidence on
how livelihoods can be secured and enhanced through adaptation in
the context of external shocks and shorter-term climate stresses (e.g.,
Ellis, 2000; Dercon, 2004). But an emerging literature documents how
some adaptation interventions can create new risks, are inefficient, or
fail to recognize wider goals of system resilience (e.g., Eriksen et al.,
2011; Adger et al., 2011b; see also Sections 13.3.2 and 20.3.2).
Adaptation interventions and strategies have been documented that
reduce risks to human security, but vary in effectiveness. Strategies that
have been documented as promoting well-being include (1) diversification
of income-generating activities in agricultural and fishing systems
(Coulthard, 2008; Paavola, 2008; Tolossa, 2008; Galvin, 2009; Badjeck et
al., 2010; West and Hovelsrud, 2010); (2) migration as a risk management
strategy, for example, among pastoralists and farmers in rainfed areas
(Galvin, 2009) and among fishing communities (Perry and Sumaila,
2007; Badjeck et al., 2009); (3) the development of insurance systems,
particularly among vulnerable groups (Linneroth-Bayer and Vari, 2008;
Badjeck et al., 2010); and (4) the education of women (Boyle et al., 2006;
Rammohan and Johar, 2009). Some adaptation strategies may, however,
undermine human security, particularly where strategies are implemented
without taking cognizance of complex livelihood arrangements. In some
cases, adaptations may entrench vulnerabilities and also have the
potential to enforce inequalities (Barnett and O’Neill, 2010). For
example, in parts of the Middle East and North Africa, the Andes, and
the Caribbean, among other areas, skewed water policy allocation in
some cases that favor the affluent may heighten overall livelihood
vulnerabilities to climate stress (Section
12.3. Cultural Dimensions of Human Security
12.3.1. How Culture Interacts with
Climate Impacts and Adaptation
Culture is a contested and highly fluid term that is defined in this chapter
as material and non-material symbols that express collective meaning.
In all societies culture is expressed in knowledge, worldviews, beliefs,
norms, values, and social relationships (Crate, 2008, 2011; Heyd, 2008;
Roncoli et al., 2009; Strauss, 2009; O’Brien and Wolf, 2010; Tingley et
al., 2010; Rudiak-Gould, 2012; Sudmeier-Rieux et al., 2012). In this
definition culture shapes the relationship of society to environments
and is a significant determinant of responses to environmental and
other risks and challenges (Siurua and Swift, 2002; Pearce et al., 2009;
Buikstra et al., 2010; Nielsen and Reenberg, 2010; Petheram et al., 2010;
Paul and Routray, 2011).
There has been significant new research from psychology, anthropology,
sociology, and human geography in the period since AR4 on the lived
experience of weather extremes and observed climate change, driven
Frequently Asked Questions
FAQ 12.1 | What are the principal threats to human security from climate change?
limate change threatens human security because it undermines livelihoods, compromises culture and individual
identity, increases migration that people would rather have avoided, and because it can undermine the ability of
states to provide the conditions necessary for human security. Changes in climate may influence some or all of the
actors at the same time. Situations of acute insecurity, such as famine, conflict, and sociopolitical instability, almost
always emerge from the interaction of multiple factors. For many populations that are already socially marginalized,
resource dependent, and have limited capital assets, human security will be progressively undermined as the climate
Human Security Chapter 12
in part by observed warming trends in regions. This body of knowledge
from across social science disciplines argues that climate change is
embedded in and acts on culture in myriad ways. For example, all
consumption patterns are culturally embedded and therefore culture
influences greenhouse gas emissions. The phenomenon of climate change
itself is perceived differently depending on the culture in which it is
viewed, with scientific expression representing only one possibility
(Norgaard, 2011). Similarly, there are widely different cultural expressions
of weather, risk, and the need for adaptation to such hazards (Hulme, 2008;
Adger et al., 2013). Therefore, since climate change has consequences
for people this emerging body of knowledge shows with high confidence
that climate change has significant cultural implications (Crate, 2011;
Strauss, 2012).
Anthropological analysis of culture focuses on identity, community, and
economic activities. There is a growing body of research on how climate
and other environmental change affects livelihood activities such as
pastoralism, herding, farming, fishing and hunting, and gathering in places
where there is significant observed change. Research has documented
how rural livelihoods and, therefore, cultural practices have been affected
by changes in climate and associated impacts on natural capital. Many
anthropological studies suggest that further significant changes in the
Box 12-3 | Food Prices, Food Insecurity, and Links to Climate
Food prices and food-price shocks have significant impacts on human security. They do so through reduced access to, and production
of, food that affects both consumers and food producers (e.g., Sections 7.4.3, 13.2.1-2; Barrett, 2010). It is well established that food
security is determined by a range of interacting factors including poverty, water availability, food policy agreements and regulations,
and the demand for productive land for alternative uses (Barrett, 2010, 2013). It is also established that many of these factors are
themselves sensitive to climate variability and climate change. Specific observed food prices have, however, multiple causes and
complex dynamics between markets, non-food demand for agricultural land, and the impact of adverse weather and droughts on the
major agricultural producing regions (Piesse and Thirtle, 2009).
Spikes in food prices have particularly acute impacts on food insecurity at the domestic level, even in the absence of climate stresses.
There was, for example, high regional variation in self-reported food insecurity following the global 2008 price spike: the reported
food insecurity was especially serious across Africa and Latin American countries (Headey, 2013). The 2010–2011 food price spike has
been estimated to have pushed 44 million people below the basic needs poverty line across 28 countries (Ivanic et al., 2012). Food
availability can also be affected by domestic production of food, particularly for those countries where there are restrictions on food
imports (Barrett, 2013; Berazneva and Lee, 2013). There are, therefore, multiple pathways by which consumers including agricultural
wage laborers in low-income countries are affected (Mendelsohn et al., 2007; Ahmed et al., 2009; Cohen and Garrett, 2010; Hertel
and Rosch, 2010; Ruel at al., 2010). Declines in agricultural productivity linked to climate variability and losses in maize production,
for example, have been shown in Zambia to reduce real urban incomes and to influence urban poverty for a portion of the population
(Thurlow et al., 2012).
Food prices and food availability also affect socio-political stability and in the case of the 2008–2009 and 2010–2011 food price
spikes have been associated with food riots (Johnstone and Mazo, 2011; Barrett, 2013; Berazneva and Lee, 2013). High food prices
affect food access and food availability, but such insecurity is highly conditional on the responses of markets and governments and
hence is variable. Berazneva and Lee (2013) show that 14 countries in Africa experienced food riots in 2008 and that they are
characterized by higher levels of poverty, restricted food access and availability, are more urbanized, and have more oppressive
regimes and stronger civil societies than those countries that did not experience riots. The linkages between food riots and climate
change are therefore dependent on responses of multiple private and state actors and it is generally concluded that it is difficult to
attribute causality (Barrett, 2013).
Food prices, food access, and food availability are critical elements of human security. There is robust evidence that food security
affects basic-needs elements of human security and, in some circumstances, is associated with political stability and climate stresses.
But there are complex pathways between climate, food production, and human security and hence this area requires further
concentrated research as an area of concern.
Chapter 12 Human Security
atural resource base on which many cultures depend would directly
affect the cultural core, worldviews, cosmologies, and mythological
symbols of indigenous cultures (Crate, 2008; Gregory and Trousdale,
2009; Jacka, 2009). While changing socioeconomic and environmental
conditions may constrain existing community coping mechanisms
(Rattenbury et al., 2009; West and Hovelsrud, 2010; Quinn et al., 2011),
other studies focus on how cultures adapt to significant societal and
environmental changes. Many successful examples of the persistence
of cultures despite significant upheaval exist throughout history (Nuttall,
2009; Cameron, 2012; Strauss, 2012).
Culture also interacts with adaptation through the way that cultural,
local, and individual perceptions affect narratives of risk, resilience, and
adaptive capacity. A body of research across disciplines argues that
incorporation of cultural understanding of environment, risk, and social
practices increases the explanatory power of models of risk (Ifejika
Speranza et al., 2008; Jacka, 2009; Adger et al., 2011a). The way in
which resource-dependent communities articulate and perceive climate
change is often based on how English language terms are translated and
understood in the local language (Rudiak-Gould, 2012). Furthermore,
information is interpreted through personal life stories and culture
(Kuruppu and Liverman, 2011). Local perceptions of what kind of
knowledge is trustworthy may in fact lead to questioning of scientific
findings (Ingram et al., 2002; Burns et al., 2010; Roncoli et al., 2011).
able 12-2 illustrates different dimensions in which climate change is
interpreted and through which human security is affected.
Culturally embedded perceptions of climate change may either facilitate
or hinder adaptation with implications for human security (Zamani et
al., 2006; Burningham et al., 2008; West and Hovelsrud, 2010; Gómez-
Baggethun et al., 2012; Nursey-Bray et al., 2012; Rudiak-Gould, 2012).
Scientific information on weather variability and change is framed
through cultural practices that can both enable (Dannevig et al., 2012)
and constrain (Roncoli, 2006) adaptation. There are a number of
anthropological studies that document how some cognitive frames do
not perceive a changing climate and hence the concept of climate
change itself does not have cultural resonance, whether or not the
parameters of climate have been observed (Kuruppu and Liverman,
2011; Lipset, 2011; Sánchez-Cortés and Chavero, 2011; Rudiak-Gould,
2012). Most of these studies conclude that climate policies do not have
legitimacy and salience when they do not consider how individual
behavior and collective norms are embedded in culture (Stadel, 2008;
Jacka, 2009).
There is a significant body of research that analyzes community and
collective action for adaptation and generally finds positive outcomes.
Many studies conclude that community-led action is effective for
reducing risks and building capacity for adaptation (Davidson et al.,
Core climate
Cultural dimensions Role in human security Sources
Climate science
and policy
Framing of climate change in a
dominant language
Global climate change policy
implemented at international scales
How concepts and uncertainties are translated, imported,
and incorporated can facilitate or hinder adaptation:
Facilitate adaptation: available explanatory tools; successful
translation of climate change impacts; awareness of culture
Hinder adaptation: lack of trust in science and in policy;
policy not recognizing the connection between nature and
Policy and decision making that is inclusive of cultural
perspectives increases security.
Ifejika Speranza et al. (2008); Stadel (2008); Jacka (2009); Green et
al. (2010); Osbahr et al. (2010); Schroeder (2010); Gero et al. (2011);
Kuruppu and Liverman (2011); Roncoli et al. (2011); Sánchez-Cortés
and Chavero (2011); McNeely (2012); Rudiak-Gould (2012)
Impacts of
extreme events,
and changing
resource base
Elements of collective understanding
such as:
Coupling of nature–culture
Power relations
Heterogeneity within groups and
Facilitate adaptation: New technologies; livelihood
diversifi cation and fl exibility; perceptions of resilience;
narratives and history about past changes and current
conditions; co-management of resources increases adaptive
Hinder adaptation: limitations of local knowledge; lack of
awareness and understanding of culture constrains action;
knowledge and cultural repertoire limited for responding to
new challenges; perceptions of resilience
Erosion of cultural core potentially decreases human
Institutional responses and resource management will
impact human security either negatively or positively.
Nunn (2000); Davidson et al. (2003); Desta and Coppock (2004);
Ford et al. (2006, 2008); Furgal and Seguin (2006); Kesavan and
Swaminathan (2006); Zamani et al. (2006); Nyong et al. (2007);
Tyler et al. (2007); Angassa and Oba (2008); Burningham et al.
(2008); Crate (2008); de Sherbinin et al. (2008); King (2008);
Gregory and Trousdale (2009); Jacka (2009); Pearce et al. (2009);
Berkes and Armitage (2010); Dumaru (2010); Fazey et al. (2010);
Hovelsrud and Smit (2010); Hovelsrud et al. (2010a,b); Kalikoski
et al. (2010); Kuhlicke (2010); Lefale (2010); Nielsen and Reenberg
(2010); Osbahr et al. (2010); Rybråten and Hovelsrud (2010);
Valdivia et al. (2010); West and Hovelsrud (2010); Armitage
et al. (2011); Gero et al. (2011); Harries and Penning-Rowsell
(2011); Kuruppu and Liverman (2011); Marshall (2011); Onta and
Resurrection (2011); Roncoli et al. (2011); Adler et al. (2012); Anik
and Khan (2012); Eakin et al. (2012); Ford and Goldhar (2012);
Gómez-Baggethun et al. (2012); McNeeley (2012); Nursey-Bray et
al. (2012); Rudiak-Gould (2012); Sudmeier-Riuex et al. (2012)
Scientifi c
Local, traditional, and indigenous
knowledge through observations and
Facilitate adaptation: mutual integration of traditional,
local, and scientifi c knowledge; climate projections with
local relevance; intergenerational knowledge transfers
Local knowledge included in climate policy and decision
making increases human security.
Knowledge not included in adaptation planning decreases
human security.
Orlove et al. (2000, 2010); Ingram et al. (2002); Tàbara et al.
(2003); Alcántara-Ayala et al. (2004); Roncoli (2006); Anderson et
al. (2007); Forbes (2007); Nyong et al. (2007); Tyler et al. (2007);
Vogel et al. (2007); Catto and Parewick (2008); Marfai et al. (2008);
Mercer et al. (2009); Pearce et al. (2009); Burns et al. (2010); Frazier
et al. (2010); Gearheard et al. (2010); Hovelsrud and Smit (2010);
Marin (2010); Mark et al. (2010); Smit et al. (2010); Flint et al.
(2011); Huntington (2011); Kalanda-Joshua et al. (2011); Ravera
et al. (2011); Sánchez-Cortés and Chavero (2011); Dannevig et al.
(2012); Eira et al. (2013)
Table 12-2 | Cultural dimensions of climate science, policy, impacts, and extreme events in the context of climate change.
Human Security Chapter 12
003; Furgal and Seguin, 2006; Catto and Parewick, 2008; Fazey et al.,
2010; Gero et al., 2011; Harries and Penning-Rowsell, 2011; Anik and
Khan, 2012; Sudmeier-Riuex et al., 2012; Adler, et al., 2013). Specifically,
this literature finds that community participation in risk and vulnerability
assessments produces more sustainable solutions (Ardalan et al., 2010;
Gero et al., 2011) and that co-management of resources and learning
increase adaptive capacity (Ford et al., 2007; Dumaru, 2010; Fazey et
al., 2010; Armitage et al., 2011). Much of this literature recognizes,
however, the structural barriers to community-led action and limited
participation that can hinder effective community adaptation to climate
change (Singleton, 2000; Davidson et al., 2003; King, 2008; Ensor and
Berger, 2009; Nielsen and Reenberg, 2010; Onta and Resurrection,
2011). Further studies highlight barriers to widespread community
responses that result from colonial history (Marino, 2012) and from
political and economic globalization (O’Brien et al., 2004; Keskitalo,
12.3.2. Indigenous Peoples
There are around 400 million indigenous people worldwide (see
Glossary for an inclusive definition), living under a wide range of social,
economic, and political conditions and locations (Nakashima et al.,
2012). Indigenous peoples represent the world’s largest reserve of
cultural diversity and the majority of languages (Sutherland, 2003).
Climate change poses challenges for many indigenous peoples, including
challenges to post-colonial power relations, cultural practices, their
knowledge systems, and adaptive strategies. For example, the extensive
literature on the Arctic shows that changing ice conditions pose risks
in terms of access to food and increasingly dangerous travel conditions
(Ford et al., 2008, 2009; Hovelsrud et al., 2011; see also Section 28.4.1).
Accordingly, there is a strong research tradition on the impacts of
climate change in regions with substantial indigenous populations that
focuses on indigenous peoples and their attachment to place. Most
studies focus on local, traditional, and rural settings (Cameron, 2012)
and hence have been argued to create a knowledge gap regarding new
urban indigenous populations. Indigenous peoples are often portrayed
in the literature as victims of climate change (Salick and Ross, 2009)
and as vulnerable to its consequences (ACIA, 2005). However,
traditional knowledge is increasingly being combined with scientific
understanding to facilitate a better understanding of the dynamic
conditions of indigenous peoples (Huntington, 2011; see also Section
There is high agreement that, historically, indigenous peoples have had
a high capacity to adapt to variable environmental conditions. This
literature also suggests indigenous peoples also have less capacity to
cope with rapidly changing socioeconomic conditions and globalization
(Tyler et al., 2007; Crate and Nuttall, 2009). Documented challenges for
indigenous cultures to adapt to colonization and globalization may
reflect resilience and the determination of indigenous peoples to
maintain cultures and identities. Furthermore, historical legacies affect
the way that indigenous populations adapt to modern challenges:
anthropological research has documented clear linkages between
historical colonization and the way the way indigenous peoples respond
to current climatic changes (Salick and Ross, 2009; Cameron, 2012;
Howitt et al., 2012; Marino, 2012).
ost of the literature in this area emphasizes the significant challenge
of maintaining cultures, livelihoods, and traditional food sources under
the impacts of climate change (Crate and Nuttall, 2009; Rybråten and
Hovelsrud, 2010; Lynn et al., 2013). Examples from the literature show
that traditional practices are already under pressure from multiple sources,
reducing the ability of such practices to enable effective responses to
climate variability (Green et al., 2010). Empirical evidence suggests that
the efficacy of traditional practices can be eroded when governments
relocate communities (Hitchcock, 2009; McNeeley, 2012; Maldonado
et al., 2013); if policy and disaster relief creates dependencies (Wenzel,
2009; Fernández-Giménez et al., 2012); in circumstances of inadequate
entitlements, rights, and inequality (Shah and Sajitha, 2009; Green et
al., 2010; Lynn et al., 2013); and when there are constraints to the
transmission of language and knowledge between generations (Forbes,
2007). Some studies show that current indigenous adaptation strategies
may not be sufficient to manage the projected climate changes (Wittrock
et al., 2011).
Assessments of the cultural implications of climate change for human
security illustrate similarities across indigenous peoples. Indigenous
peoples have a right to maintain their livelihoods and their connections
to homeland and place (Howitt et al., 2012) and it is suggested that the
consequences of climate change are challenging this right (Box 12-1;
Crate and Nuttall, 2009). Some raise the question whether the Western
judicial system can uphold indigenous rights in the face of climate
change (Williams, 2012) and that there is a need for justice that facilitates
adaptation (Whyte, 2013). In addition, there are uneven societal
consequences related to climate change impacts (e.g., use of sea ice:
Ford et al., 2008), which add complexity to adaptation in indigenous
societies. Heterogeneity within indigenous groups and differentiated
exposure to risk has been found in other contexts, for example, in
pastoralist groups of the Sahel (Barrett et al., 2001).
Much research on indigenous peoples concludes that lack of involvement
in formal, government decision making over resources decreases resilience:
the literature recommends further focus on indigenous perceptions of risk
and traditional knowledge of change, hazards, and coping strategies and
collective responses (Ellemor, 2005; Brown, 2009; Finucane, 2009; Turner
and Clifton 2009; Sánchez-Cortés and Chavero, 2011; Maldonado et al.,
2013). Though providing economic opportunities, tourism development
and industrial activities are particular areas of risk for indigenous peoples
when affected populations are not involved in decision making (Petheram
et al., 2010). Lack of formal participation in international negotiations
may pose risks for indigenous peoples because their perspectives are
not heard (Schroeder, 2010). However, there are examples of successful
indigenous lobbying and advocacy, as in the case of managing persistent
organic pollutants and heavy metals in the Arctic (Selin and Selin, 2008).
12.3.3. Local and Traditional Forms of Knowledge
There is high agreement among researchers that involvement of local
people and their local, traditional, or indigenous forms of knowledge in
decision making is critical for ensuring their security (Ellemor, 2005;
Kesavan and Swaminathan, 2006; Burningham et al., 2008; Mercer et
al., 2009; Pearce et al., 2009; Anik and Khan, 2012). Such forms of
knowledge include categories such as traditional ecological knowledge,
Chapter 12 Human Security
indigenous science, and ethnoscience (Nakashima and Roué, 2002).
Collectively they are defined as “a cumulative body of knowledge,
practice and belief, evolving by adaptive processes and handed down
through generations” (Berkes, 2012, p. 7). In addition to reasserting
culture, identity, and traditional values, such forms of knowledge are
experiential, dynamic, and highly context dependent, developed through
interactions with other forms of knowledge (Ford et al., 2006; Orlove
et al., 2010; Sánchez-Cortés and Chavero, 2011; Eira et al., 2013).
The conclusion of many anthropological studies in this area is that there
is robust evidence that mutual integration and co-production of local
and traditional and scientific knowledge increase adaptive capacity and
reduce vulnerability (Kofinas, 2002; Oberthür et al., 2004; Anderson et
al., 2007; Tyler et al., 2007; Vogel et al., 2007; Marfai et al., 2008; West
et al., 2008; Frazier et al., 2010; Armitage et al., 2011; Flint et al., 2011;
Ravera et al., 2011; Nakashima et al., 2012; Eira et al., 2013). Local and
traditional knowledge about historical changes and adaptation strategies
are valuable for evaluating contemporary responses to environmental
and social change and policy (Orlove et al., 2000; Desta and Coppock,
2004; Angassa and Oba, 2008; Ford et al., 2008; Lefale, 2010; Osbahr et
al., 2010; Fernández-Giménez et al., 2012; Eira et al., 2013). Traditional
knowledge contributes to mitigating the impact of natural disasters
(Rautela, 2005), maintaining domestic biodiversity (Emperaire and Peroni,
2007) and developing sustainable adaptation and mitigation strategies
(Nyong et al., 2007; Adler et al., 2013). A study of Borana indigenous
pastoralists, for example, documented how loss of technical and
organizational practices contributed to progressive land degradation,
erosion of social structures, and poverty (Homann et al., 2008). Local
and traditional knowledge is also applied in folk forecasting of weather
and has been shown to be mutually reinforcing with scientific forecasts
of weather at different time scales (Orlove et al., 2000; Nyong et al.,
2007; Tyler et al., 2007; Gearheard et al., 2010; Hovelsrud and Smit,
Despite recognition in studies of the value of local and traditional
knowledge, such knowledge is most often not included in adaptation
planning (Tàbara et al., 2003; King et al., 2007; Ifejika Speranza et al.,
2008; Huntington, 2011). There are many challenges in managing,
utilizing, acknowledging, and incorporating local and traditional
knowledge into adaptation practices (Huntington, 2011). Such knowledge
is often generated and collected through participatory approaches, an
approach that may not be sufficient because of the cultural and social
dynamics of power and interpretation (Roncoli et al., 2011). Local and
traditional knowledge itself may have its limits. Some studies suggest
that local or traditional knowledge may not be sufficient to provide the
proper response to unexpected or infrequent risks or events (Nunn,
2000; Burningham et al., 2008; Kuhlicke, 2010).
There is also concern, documented in many anthropological studies, that
indigenous and traditional knowledge is itself under threat. If local or
traditional knowledge is perceived to be less reliable because of changing
environmental conditions (Ingram et al., 2002; Ford et al., 2006) or
because of extreme or new events that are beyond the current local
knowledge and cultural repertoire (Valdivia et al., 2010; Hovelsrud et
al., 2010a), then community vulnerability, and the vulnerability of local
or traditional knowledge itself, may increase (Kalanda-Joshua et al.,
2011). New conditions may require new knowledge to facilitate and
maintain flexibility and improve livelihoods (see also Homann et al.,
2008). Kesavan and Swaminathan (2006) documented how societal and
environmental conditions have changed to the point that local knowledge
is supplemented with new technologies and new knowledge in coastal
communities in India. A study in the Himalayas found that erosion of
traditional knowledge occurs through government regulations of
traditional building materials and practices (Rautela, 2005). The social
cohesion embedded in such practices is weakened because of a move
toward concrete construction which changes the reliance on and
usefulness of traditional knowledge about wood as a building material
(Rautela, 2005).
12.4. Migration and Mobility Dimensions of
Human Security
12.4.1. Impacts of Climate Change on Displacement,
Migration, and Mobility Nature of Evidence on Climate Change and Migration
This section details how some existing migration systems may be
significantly disrupted by impacts of climate change in a number of
important dimensions. This finding comes from a very significant new
body of observational and theoretical research in the past 5 years, as
the migration and mobility dimensions of the impacts of climate change
and the central role of mobility in adaptation have become apparent
Frequently Asked Questions
FAQ 12.2 | Can lay knowledge of environmental risks help adaptation to climate change?
ay knowledge about the environment and climate is deeply rooted in history, and encompasses important aspects
of human life. Lay knowledge is particularly pertinent in cultures with an intimate relationship between people
and the environment. For many indigenous and rural communities, for example, livelihood activities such as herding,
unting, fishing, or farming are directly connected to and dependent on climate and weather conditions. These
communities thus have critical knowledge about dealing with environment changes and associated societal conditions.
In regions around the world, such knowledge is commonly used in adapting to environmental conditions and is
irectly relevant to adaptation to climate change.
Human Security Chapter 12
Afifi and Jäger, 2010; Foresight, 2011; Piguet et al., 2011). As with other
elements of human security, the dynamics of the interaction of mobility
with climate change are multifaceted and direct causation is difficult
to establish.
The major findings of this emerging science demonstrate the multiple
drivers of migration; show the role of displacement of populations from
extreme weather events; and highlight the governance challenges of
displaced peoples and the challenges of migration for urban sustainability
(Black et al., 2011a,c; Foresight, 2011; Parnell and Walawege, 2011;
Seto, 2011; White, G., 2011; Geddes et al., 2012). Studies have derived
these findings through multiple methods and lines of evidence including
statistical inference to explain observed migration patterns using climate
or related impacts as independent variables; sample surveys of migrant
motivations and behavior; modeling techniques; and historical analogs
(McLeman and Hunter, 2010; Piguet, 2010; Warner, 2011; Oswald Spring
et al., 2013; Warner and Afifi, 2013).
Migration in this chapter is defined in terms of temporal and spatial
characteristics: it is a permanent or semi-permanent move by a person
of at least one year that involves crossing an administrative, but not
necessarily a national, border (Brown and Bean, 2005). Permanent
migration, as well as temporary and seasonal migration, are prevalent
in every part of the world, and are driven by economic and other
imperatives. The most significant contemporary overall trend in migration
continues to be major movements of people from rural to urban
settlements. The proportion of the global population that is urban has
risen from 10% in 1900 to more than 50% in 2009 and is projected to
reach 59% by 2030 (Grimm et al., 2008). Around 80% of all migration
is presently within countries (UNDP, 2009). Existing global migration
trends mapped onto ecological zones by de Sherbinin et al. (2012) show
that the past 4 decades have seen out-migration from mountain regions
and from drylands. Net migration to coastal zones is estimated as having
been more than 70 million people in the 1990–2000 census period. Potential Pathways from Climate Change to Migration
Extreme weather events provide the most direct pathway from climate
change to migration. It is widely established that extreme weather
events displace populations in the short term because of their loss of place
of residence or economic disruption. Only a proportion of displacement
leads to more permanent migration (Foresight, 2011; Hallegatte, 2012).
Much of the literature, such as reviewed in the IPCC Special Report on
Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate
Change Adaptation (SREX), concludes that an increasing incidence and
changing intensity of extreme weather events due to climate change
will lead directly to the risk of increased levels of displacement.
The evidence on displacement as a result of weather-related events
suggests that most displaced people attempt to return to their original
residence and rebuild as soon as practical. The Pakistan floods of 2010,
for example, caused primarily localized displacement for large numbers
of people across a wide area (Gaurav et al., 2011), rather than longer-
distance migration. Structural economic causes of social vulnerability
may determine whether temporary displacement turns into permanent
migration. In New Orleans, after Hurricane Katrina, for example,
conomically disadvantaged populations were displaced in the immediate
aftermath and most have not returned (Myers et al., 2008; Mutter,
2010). Fussell et al. (2010) found that 14 months after the event, African
American residents returned more slowly, because they had suffered
greater housing damage. Studies conclude that displacement affected
human security through housing, economic, and health outcomes and
that these have perpetuated the initial impact into a chronic syndrome
of insecurity (Adams et al., 2009; Hori and Shafer, 2010). Furthermore,
there are well-documented gender differences in displacement from
extreme events, especially when women lose their social networks or
their social capital, and women are often affected by adverse mental
health outcomes in situations of displacement (Tunstall et al., 2006;
Oswald Spring, 2008; Hunter and David, 2011).
Therefore, extreme weather events are not necessarily associated with
displacement and can also be associated with immobility or in-migration.
Changing economic structures can shape the ability of affected populations
to cope with extreme weather without being displaced. While the poorest
households in Honduras suffered greatest losses due to the impacts of
Hurricane Mitch in 1990 (Glantz and Jamison, 2000; McLeman and
Hunter, 2010; McSweeney and Coomes, 2011), they were found to be
less vulnerable to storms a decade later due to changes in land tenure
and better early warning systems (Villagrán de León, 2009). Paul
(2005) found that there was little displacement in Bangladesh following
floods and that residents perceived an influx of migrants due to the
It is well established in demography that while migration is a common
strategy to deal with livelihood risk, movement is costly and disruptive
and hence may be used only as an adaptation of last resort (McLeman,
2009). Hurlimann and Dolnicar (2011) showed for eight Australian
settlements experiencing long-term drought that relocation and migration
was perceived to be the least desirable adaptation. Marshall et al.
(2012) similarly showed that place attachment dominated decision
making and reluctance to undertake relocation of farming communities.
Haug (2002) showed that pastoralists displaced due to drought in
Sudan in the 1990s attempted to return to their previous settlements
after the drought, notwithstanding conflict and other factors. McLeman
and Hunter (2010) reviewed historical cases of displacement migration
and concluded that non-migration or rapid return significantly outweighs
permanent migration following hurricane impacts in the Caribbean,
Dust Bowl migration in the 1930s USA, or dry season migration in the
West African Sahel.
A further strand of evidence shows social differentiation in access to the
resources necessary to migrate influences migration outcomes (Renaud
et al., 2011; Black et al., 2013). Vulnerability is inversely correlated with
mobility, leading to those being most exposed and vulnerable to
the impacts of climate change having the least capability to migrate
(Figure 12-1). Therefore, climate change risks can be significant when
they reduce and constrain opportunities to move (Black et al., 2013).
Alternatively, the most vulnerable households are able to use migration
to cope with environmental stress, but their migration is an emergency
response that creates conditions of debt and increased vulnerability,
rather than reducing them (Warner and Afifi, 2013). Table 12-3 summarizes
studies on the migration outcomes of weather extremes and long-term
environmental change. It shows that some events lead to increased
Chapter 12 Human Security
displacement of populations, while others lead to reduced mobility.
Table 12-3 also demonstrates that, in many circumstances, members of
a population will display differentiated migration outcomes on the basis
of ethnicity, wealth, or gender (Elliot and Pais, 2006; Gray and Mueller,
2012; Upton, 2012).
There is some evidence that climate changes, through impacts on
productivity, can lead to reductions in migration flows. Studies in Table
12-3 highlight that some longer distance migration is reduced by drought in
pastoral systems (Findley, 1994; van der Geest, 2011; nchez et al., 2013).
Drought was also found to reduce migration in other systems. Henry et
al. (2004) confirmed in a multiyear study of Burkina Faso that the
movement to other rural areas increased in dry years, but long-distance
or international migration was limited to years of high agricultural
roductivity. Pioneer migration to new destinations, long distance
migration, and international migration all require significant human and
financial capital and hence are restricted to wealthier populations or to
time periods where the household has sufficient resources. However, in
some contexts drought can lead to increased migration—often short-
term and short-distance migration. Kniveton et al. (2011, 2012) modeled
migration movements from the 1980s in Burkina Faso and project that
future scenarios of decreased rainfall would increase rates of out-
migration from rural areas.
Whether or not negative environmental change influences the decision
to migrate, migrant populations may be exposed to more hazardous
climatic conditions in their new destinations (Black et al., 2011b). There
is some evidence that new migrants are more at risk in destination areas
such as cities. Low-income migrants, as well as being socially excluded,
cluster in high-density areas that are often highly exposed to flooding and
landslides, with these risks increasing with climate change (Chatterjee,
2010; Fox and Beall, 2012; McMichael et al., 2012). Migrants in Buenos
Aires, Lagos, Mumbai, and Dakar (Chatterjee, 2010; World Bank, 2010;
Mehrotra et al., 2011) more often live in more hazardous locations than
long-term residents. In Dakar, 40% of new migrants in the decade until
2008 resided in areas with high flood risk (World Bank, 2010). Wang et
al. (2012) found that migrants had less knowledge about typhoon risks
in Shanghai. Tompkins et al. (2009) showed that new migrants in the
Cayman Islands are most vulnerable to tropical cyclones as they are
least likely to prepare for cyclones, more likely to live in locations with
high exposure to cyclone impacts, and interact mostly with expatriates
without previous cyclone experience. There is no established evidence
that rapid urbanization itself is a source of conflict: Buhaug and Urdal
(2013) test hypotheses on social disorder and population growth in 55
cities in Africa and find that rapid growth of city populations does not
drive urban unrest. Migration Trends and Long-Term Climate Change
Long-term environmental change, sea level rise, coastal erosion, and loss
of agricultural productivity (Table 12-3) will have a significant impact
Ability to move
Low High
Trapped population
Vulnerability to environmental change
Figure 12-1 | Relationship between vulnerability to environmental change and
mobility showing that populations most exposed and vulnerable to the impacts of
climate change may have least ability to migrate (adapted from Foresight, 2011; Black
et al., 2013).
Frequently Asked Questions
FAQ 12.3 | How many people could be displaced as a result of climate change?
Displacement is the movement of people from their place of residence, and can occur when extreme weather
events, such as flood and drought, make areas temporarily uninhabitable. Major extreme weather events have in
the past led to significant temporary population displacement, and changes in the incidence of extreme events will
amplify the challenges and risks of such displacement. However, many vulnerable groups do not have the resources
to be able to migrate from areas exposed to the risks from extreme events. There are no robust global estimates
of future displacement, but there is significant evidence that planning and increased mobility can reduce the human
security costs of displacement from extreme weather events. Climate changes in rural areas could amplify migration
to urban centers. However, environmental conditions and altered ecosystem services are few among the many
reasons why people migrate. So while climate change impacts will play a role in these decisions in the future, given
the complex motivations for all migration decisions, it is difficult to categorize any individual as a climate migrant
(Section 12.4).
Human Security Chapter 12
on migration flows (Lilleor and Van den Broeck, 2011). The evidence in
this area comes from simulation studies of future migration flows and
permanent displacement. Barbieri et al. (2010) estimated emigration
rates in Brazil from affected rural areas and found that de-population
occurs with relatively modest rates of warming. In their scenarios the
biggest increase in migration comes from productive agricultural areas
that support a large labor force. In a separate study, Mendelsohn et al.
(2007) concluded that in dryland Brazil urban migration is very likely
Continued next page
Type of
impact or
Change in
trend or fl ow
Region Impact on migration, by type of short-term event and long-term change Source
and land
Evidence for
obility or
Ethiopia Outmigration of household heads due to drought-related famine. Different coping strategies lead to
ariations in the timing of migration.
Meze-Hausken (2000)
exico At the state level, a reduction in crop yields is associated with an increase in international migration to the
United States.
eng et al. (2010)
nvironmental factors infl uenced decisions to migrate internationally from refugee camps. Gila et al. (2011)
enya Households farming high-quality soil are less likely to migrate, especially for temporary labor; soil
degradation therefore causes increased outmigration.
ray (2011)
India Temporary migration is identifi ed as “the most important” coping strategy in times of drought in rural
Jülich (2011)
Canada Higher population loss was associated with settlements containing areas of poorer quality agricultural soils
uring droughts of 1930s.
McLeman and Ploeger (2012)
Guatemala Migrants to the expanding agricultural frontier commonly attributed their outmigration to soil degradation. López-Carr (2012)
ahel In three case regions, the pressure to migrate had signifi cantly increased since the 1970s, with response to
persistent droughts identifi ed as a factor.
cheffran et al. (2012b,d)
Drier region populations were more likely to engage in rural–rural migration, both temporary and
ermanent, than people from regions with more rainfall. Rainfall defi cits have different impacts depending
on the duration and distance of the migration.
Henry et al. (2004)
imulated scenarios of dry climate increase migration fl uxes compared to wet scenarios. Highest
international migrant fl ows are shown with the dry climate scenarios.
niveton et al. (2011)
vidence for
ali Reduced international migration occurred during the 1980s drought concurrently with an increase in
localized cyclical migration.
indley (1994)
Nepal Deforestation, population pressure, and agricultural decline leads to local mobility, especially among
women, but no increases in internal or international migration.
Massey et al. (2010); Bohra-
Mishra and Massey (2011)
Uganda High soil quality marginally increases migration, especially permanent non-labor migration; therefore soil
degradation reduces outmigration.
Gray (2011)
for socially
Dustbowl migrants from Oklahoma to California in the 1930s had different social and economic capital
endowments from those who stayed within state.
McLeman and Smit (2006)
Ecuador Infl uence of natural capital on migration differed between men and women. Access to land facilitates
migration in men; women are less likely to migrate from environmentally degraded areas.
Gray (2010)
Ethiopia Male migration increases with drought. However, marriage-related moves by women decrease with
Gray and Mueller (2012)
Labor migration became a key off-farm livelihood strategy after droughts in the 1970s for groups
dependent on rain-fed agriculture.
Nielsen and Reenberg (2010)
Mongolia Diversity was seen in herders’ mobility strategies in response to climate change. For a minority, responses
entailed greater overall annual mobility. Other herding households experienced signifi cant reductions in
Upton (2012)
Evidence for
mobility or
Ten counties and parishes in Louisiana, of the 77 impacted counties, experienced 82% of the total
population increase in the year following Hurricane Katrina.
Frey and Singer (2006)
Vietnam Cumulative impacts of seasonal fl ooding increase outmigration rates in the Mekong Delta. Dun (2011)
Bangladesh 22% of households affected by tidal-surge fl oods, and 16% affected by riverbank erosion, moved to urban
Foresight (2011)
Evidence for
or trapped
Bangladesh No outmigration was detected after 2004 tornado in Bangladesh as a result of the effective distribution of
disaster aid.
Paul (2005)
Senegal More than 40% of new migrant populations located in high risk fl ood zones in Dakar. Foresight (2011)
for socially
Emergency evacuation responses and return migration after Hurricane Katrina were highly differentiated
by income, race, class, and ethnicity.
Elliott and Pais (2006); Falk
et al. (2006); Landry et al.
Bangladesh Wide variation seen among groups in attitudes toward, and capabilities for, migration as an adaptation to
the impact of cyclone Aila.
Kartiki (2011)
Table 12-3 | Empirical evidence on observed or projected mobility outcomes (migration, immobility, or displacement) associated with weather-related extremes or impacts of
longer-term climate change.
Chapter 12 Human Security
due to agricultural income loss. Longer term environmental change
caused by climate change also amplifies existing trends such as rural
to urban migration, though results diverge on the importance of climate
change and resource scarcity in driving such trends. Modelling studies
with future projections on Mexico-USA migration rates (Feng et al.,
2009) and on Brazilian internal migration (Barbieri et al., 2010) show
that projections of drying increase emigration in established migration
routes and de-population of rural areas (Oswald Spring et al., 2013).
Barrios et al. (2006) showed that observed rainfall declines in areas of
sub-Saharan Africa explain part of the differences in urbanization rates
across countries, with periods of rainfall decline increasing urbanization
in sub-Saharan Africa, but the urbanization is also explained by
simultaneous economic liberalization and policy change.
Sea level changes have been projected to lead to permanent displacements
as coastal areas become uninhabitable. Curtis and Schneider (2011),
for example, project 12 million people to be displaced by sea level rise
by 2030 in four major coastal areas in the USA. Nicholls et al. (2011)
estimate permanent displacements based on potential sea level changes
until 2100 (see Section 5.5.7). A 0.5 m sea level change implies a likely
land loss of 0.877 million km
by 2100, displacing 72 million people, with
no adaptation investment; with a 2.0 m sea level change, 1.789 million
would be lost, displacing 187 million people, or 2.4% of global
population, mostly in Asia. If governments undertook adaptation
investments in all coasts (e.g., building protective dikes), then the study
suggests very low levels of people displaced under the 0.5 m scenario
and a population of less than half a million displaced under the 2.0 m
sea level rise scenario (Nicholls et al., 2011). Hallegatte et al. (2011)
and Seto (2011) show that such protection measures are very likely to
be implemented because of the high cost of not investing in protecting
urban land and infrastructure, especially for major urban centers.
Even in areas under threat from long-term climate change and sea level
rise, observations show that populations at risk do not always choose
to migrate. For example, a series of studies have sought to explain
population stability in low-lying island nations. Mortreux and Barnett
(2009) found that migration from Tuvalu was not driven by perceptions
of climate change and that, despite forecasts that the island could
become uninhabitable, residents have remained for reasons of culture
and identity. Shen and Gemenne (2011) concur that both Tuvalu residents
and migrants from Tuvalu did not cite climate change as a reason for
the migration that occurs. Similarly, in the Peruvian Andes, Adams and
Adger (2013) found that cultural ecosystem services and place attachment
shape decisions not to migrate and hence populations persist despite
difficult environmental conditions. However, these studies also find that
environmental risks directly affect perceptions of well-being, cultural
integrity, and economic opportunities. They conclude that the impacts
of climate change may be a more significant driver of migration in the
12.4.2. Migration as an Adaptation
to Climate Change Impacts
Migration is a widely used adaptation strategy that reduces risks in
highly vulnerable places, as demonstrated by a wide range of studies.
Research drawing on experience of migration policy concludes that a
greater emphasis on mobility within adaptation policies would be
Type of
impact or
Change in
trend or fl ow
Region Impact on migration, by type of short-term event and long-term change Source
Sea level
Evidence for
mobility or
Relative sea level rise caused island depopulation in Maryland. Final abandonment was a result of the
opulation falling below the threshold required to support local services.
Arenstam Gibbons and
icholls (2006)
Coastal villages in Alaska are affected by sea level rise and coastal erosion to the point where resettlement
s the only viable adaptation.
Bronen (2010); Oliver-Smith
2011); Marino (2012)
he impact of future sea level rise is projected to extend beyond the inundated counties through migration
etworks that link inland and coastal areas and their populations.
urtis and Schneider (2011)
Vanuatu Contemporary example of whole village displacement was associated with inundation, both from sea level
ise and tectonic movement on Torres Islands.
Ballu et al. (2011)
Papua New
Communities on Bougainville are considering resettlement to the main island due to coastal erosion, land
oss, saltwater inundation, and food insecurity.
Oliver-Smith (2011)
Evidence for
obility or
lower migration
Tuvalu On the island of Funafuti, surveyed residents emphasize place attachment as reasons for not migrating,
and do not cite climate change as a reason to migrate.
Mortreux and Barnett (2009)
Study based on simulations or projections.
Table 12-3 (continued)
Frequently Asked Questions
FAQ 12.4 | What role does migration play
in adaptation to climate
change, particularly in
vulnerable regions?
Moving from one place to another is a fundamental
way humans respond to challenging conditions.
Migration patterns everywhere are primarily driven
by economic factors: the dominant migration system
in the world has been movement from rural to
urban areas within countries as people seek more
favorable work and living conditions.
Human Security Chapter 12
effective when undertaken in a sensitive manner (Bardsley and Hugo,
2010; Barnett and Webber, 2010; Warner, 2010; Gemenne, 2011). This
emerging literature shows that migration can be promoted to reduce risk
successfully, not least through remittance flows between sending and
destination areas (Deshingker, 2012; Fox and Beall, 2012; Martin, 2012).
The prospect of migration as an effective adaptation is recognized
through its inclusion in the Cancun Accord of the UN Framework
Convention on Climate Change (Warner, 2012).
Various governments are presently engaged in planning to move
settlements as part of adaptation strategies, either because of the
assessment of new risks or to justify existing resettlement programs (de
Sherbinin et al., 2011; Biermann, 2012). Scientific literature on these
policies most often portrays resettlement as a failure of adaptation and
a policy of last resort (Barnett and Webber, 2010; Fernando et al., 2010;
Hugo, 2011). Most practice to date, learning from other resettlement
programs, demonstrates negative social outcomes for those resettled,
often analyzed as breaches in individual human rights (Bronen, 2011;
Johnson, 2012; Arnall, 2013). There are some documented examples of
settlements that are already planning for their own relocation, such as
five indigenous communities in Alaska that have experienced increased
erosion, loss of sea ice cover, and flooding over the past decades (Bronen,
2010). These settlements have undertaken planning for relocation and
have received government funding for these processes. Bronen (2010)
and Bronen and Chapin (2013) conclude that while the relocations are
feasible, there are significant perceptions of cultural loss and related
studies report psychological stress and community dislocation (Cunsolo-
Wilcox et al., 2012, 2013). The studies argue that legitimacy and success
depend on incorporating cultural and psychological factors in the
planning processes (Bronen and Chapin, 2013). There is significant
resistance to relocation, even where such options are well planned
and have robust justifications, as demonstrated by Marino (2012) for
relocation in Alaska.
12.5. Climate Change and Armed Conflict
12.5.1. Climate Change as a Cause of Conflict
In the past decade there has been a marked increase in research
investigating the relationship between climate change and violent and
armed conflict. This section assesses the full spectrum of research using
diverse methods and data to understand the relationship between
climate change and armed conflict. Chapter 19 provides a more detailed
assessment of those studies that seek to quantify the influence of climate
factors on violence of all kinds, including personal violence. Chapter 19
defines the influence of climate impacts on violence to be an emergent
risk and a new focus of research. In this chapter, armed conflicts are
defined as those conflicts that involve more than 25 battle-related
deaths in a year. This can include interstate conflicts, intrastate conflicts
that involve governments, non-state conflicts in which governments are
not directly involved, and one-sided conflicts involving organized
violence against civilians (Themnér and Wallensteen, 2012).
There is a specific research field that explores the relationship between
large-scale disruptions in climate and the collapse of past empires.
Box 12-4 | Evidence on the Existence of Environmental Migrants and
International Policy for Their Protection
There is widespread agreement in the scientific and legal literature that the use of the term climate refugee is scientifically and
legally problematic (Tacoli, 2009; Piguet, 2010; Black et al., 2011a; Gemenne, 2011; Jakobeit and Methmann, 2012; Bettini, 2013;
Piguet, 2013). McAdam calls the concept “erroneous as a matter of law and conceptually inaccurate” (McAdam, 2011, p. 102). The
reasons are threefold. First, most migration and climate studies point to the environment as triggers and not causes for migration
decisions. Second, some studies focus on the negative geo-political implications of changing the Geneva Convention on refugees to
include environmental migrants as well as the lack of global instruments to handle internal displaced peoples or international migrants
(Martin, 2009; Cournil, 2011). Third, many Small Island States are reluctant themselves to have their international migrants designated
as being victims of climate change (McNamara and Gibson, 2009; Farbotko, 2010; Barnett and O’Neill, 2012; Farbotko and Lazrus, 2012).
The arguments put forward for a specific legal instrument to deal with migrants who have been displaced as a direct result of climate
change impacts include issues of rights, given such migration is imposed and involuntary (Bates, 2002; Bell, 2004); and the particular
status of Small Island States where displacement could affect sovereignty (Biermann and Boas, 2008; Owens, 2008; Williams, 2008).
For international displacement and migration, there is a growing literature on practical adaptation and action: the existence of
governance mechanisms to improve handling of currently displaced people, and the optimal design of such