›What about climate change will impact us? That’s the question the Navy’s Task Force Climate Change is trying to answer. Rear Admiral David Titley explains the task force’s objectives in this interview by the American Geophysical Union (AGU) at their recent “Climate Change and National Security” event on the Hill.
The task force is part of the military’s recent efforts to try to better understand what climate change will mean for the armed forces, from rising sea levels and ocean acidification to changing precipitation patterns. In the interview, Admiral Titley points out that for the Navy in particular, it is important to understand and anticipate what changes may occur since so many affect the maritime environment.
The Navy’s biggest near-term concern is the Arctic, where Admiral Titley says they expect to face significant periods of almost completely open ocean during the next two to three decades. “That has huge implications,” says Titley, “since as we all know the Arctic is in fact an ocean and we are the United States Navy. So that will be an ocean that we will be called upon to be present in that right now we’re not.”
Longer term, the admiral points to resource scarcity and access issues and sea level rise (potentially 1-2 meters) as the most important contributing factors to instability, particularly in places like Asia, where even small changes can have huge impacts on the stability of certain countries. The sum of these parts plus population growth, an intersection we examine here at The New Security Beat, is something that deserves more attention, according to Titley. “The combination of climate, water, demographics, natural resources – the interplay of all those – I think needs to be looked at,” he says.
Check out the AGU site for more information, including an interview with Jeffrey Mazo – whose book Climate Conflict we recently reviewed – discussing climate change winners and losers and the developing world (hint: the developing world are the losers).
Sources: American Geophysical Union, New York Times.
Video Credit: “What does Climate Change mean for the US Navy?” courtesy of YouTube user AGUvideos.
›Environment, Development and Growth: U.S.-Mexico Cooperation in Renewable Energies,” a report released by the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute, agreed that cooperating on renewable energy is a positive step. However, the panelists asserted that cooperation could be maximized by better harnessing Mexico’s renewable resources and by leveraging the economic complementarities that exist among the border states.
Mexico’s Green Energy Potential
Mexico has large untapped areas of geothermal, wind, and solar potential, according to Duncan Wood, author of the Wilson Center report and chair of the Department of International Relations at the Instituto Tecnologico Autonomo de Mexico (ITAM). Already, the country is the world’s third-largest producer of geothermal energy, and has large geothermal deposits in Baja California near major U.S. markets, such as San Diego and Los Angeles.
Mexico also offers great promise in wind power, with an estimated potential output of 1,800 to 2,400 megawatts for Baja California and 5,000 megawatts for southern Oaxaca state. Though Oaxaca is far from the U.S. border, it will soon be able to export electricity to U.S. markets, once Mexico’s mainland electrical grid is connected to the United States.
Wood also pointed out that Mexico is rich in solar energy, which could be marketed to the United States—particularly from the Baja California peninsula, which is the only part of the Mexican grid currently connected the United States. In biomass, he added, little investment has been made so far.
Opening New Avenues for Collaboration
With Mexico’s oil fields experiencing long-term and, in some cases, precipitous declines, the country is plotting a “future as a green nation,” shifting its policy focus toward alternative energy development, said Wood. In addition, Mexico’s renewable sector does have not the blanket prohibitions on private ventures that exist in the hydrocarbons sector, and regulatory adjustments over the past few administrations have enabled a more robust private stake in electricity generation and transmission.
A U.S.-Mexico taskforce on renewables was recently formed—an announcement timed to coincide with President Felipe Calderon’s April 2010 state visit to Washington—and there has been high-level engagement on the issue by both administrations. Collaboration between Mexico and U.S. government agencies through the Mexico Renewable Energy Program has enabled richer development of Mexico’s renewable resources while promoting the electrification and economic development of parts of rural Mexico.
Joe Dukert, an independent energy analyst affiliated with the Center for Strategic & International Studies, pointed out that U.S.-Mexico collaboration on renewables is a little-acknowledged area of bilateral cooperation, and stressed the economic complementarities that exist between the two countries on the issue. He noted, for example, that Mexico was well-positioned to furnish power to help California meet its Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) by 2020.
“Mexico can help them reach these [renewable energy] targets,” Dukert said. Yet at the same time, he said that Mexico needs to do more to enhance its profile as a renewable-energy supplier, and specifically suggested that energy attaches be assigned to the embassy and consulates.
Johanna Mendelson Forman, a senior associate with the Americas Program at the Center for Strategic & International Studies, emphasized the linkages connecting climate change, energy, and economic development. Forman warned that Mexico’s inadequate energy stocks are a problem for the United States, adding that “energy poverty is a real issue in Mexico.” Energy development and climate change—which are perceived as less polemical than other issues—are good entry points for a broader U.S.-Mexico dialogue, she remarked.
Robert Donnelly is a program associate with the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center.
Photo Credit: “Wind Mill Farm (Mexico),” courtesy of flickr user Cedric’s pics. Speaker photos by David Hawxhurst/Wilson Center.
‘Interview:’ Educate Girls, Boys, To Meet the Population Challenge, Say Pakistan’s Leading Demographers›June 25, 2010 // By Russell Sticklorthe country’s population is projected to swell to roughly 335 million by mid-century. Such explosive growth raises major questions about Pakistan’s future, from looming food and water scarcity, to yawning inequalities in the nation’s educational and economic systems. Some warn that these problems threaten to drive a new generation of disaffected Pakistani youth toward political and religious radicalization.
Recently, I asked a number of leading Pakistani demographers visiting the Wilson Center how their country could best achieve more sustainable population growth rates and effectively harness the economic potential of Pakistani youth.
Zeba Sathar, Pakistan country director for the Population Council in Islamabad, told me empowering girls through education represents one of the most important means of reducing the total fertility rate, which currently stands at four. “When children are educated—particularly when girls are educated—they take care of their fertility and their family size themselves,” Sathar said.
Yet securing educational opportunity for Pakistani girls has often been an uphill battle, largely due to entrenched social norms. Yasmeen Sabeeh Qazi, Karachi-based senior country adviser for the David and Lucile Packard Foundation’s Population Program in Pakistan, pointed out that a traditional preference for male children in Pakistani society has meant girls do not often receive the same level of family resources as males. This phenomenon has historically fed gender inequality, she said.
“Since boys are preferred, girls are not given the same kind of attention and nutrition, especially in the poorer and less-educated families,” Qazi told me. “But as the education level goes up, you see that this divide starts narrowing.” For Qazi, one of the keys to heightening educational access for girls is to increase both the quantity and quality of schools in rural districts, where two-thirds of Pakistanis live.
Decentralize Family Planning Services
Others I spoke with emphasized improving access to reproductive health and family planning services in rural and urban areas. The federal government’s relatively recent move to delegate operational authority for family planning services to the provincial or district level has encouraged many, such as Dr. Tufail Muhammad with the Pakistan Pediatric Association’s Child Rights & Abuse Committee in Peshawar.
Muhammad said the ongoing decentralization—which he described as “a major paradigm shift”—is meant to increase ownership of population planning policies at the local level, and therefore lead to more effective implementation because “the responsibility will be directly with the provincial government.” Once capacity is established at the local level to design and implement those policies, Muhammad added, “supervisors, administrators, and policymakers will be very close to [family planning] services.”
Manage the “Youth Bulge”
Yet despite the fact that both the public and private sectors are taking steps to address Pakistan’s growth issues, the population crunch will intensify before it potentially eases. Even assuming that greater educational opportunity for girls and increased local control over family planning services help drop Pakistan’s total fertility rate, the sheer size of the current youth bulge—two-thirds of the country’s population is under age 30—means population issues will inform every aspect of Pakistani society for decades to come.
In discussing the current state of Pakistan’s education system, some speakers also asserted that the influence of madrassas, or religious schools, over the student-aged population has often been overstated. Shahid Javed Burki, Pakistan’s former finance member and recent senior scholar at the Wilson Center, said during the panel discussion that inaccurate enrollment estimates created “the impression that the system is now dominated” by those institutions. He noted that more recent figures place madrassa enrollment at just five percent of the total student population.
With a majority of Pakistani students enrolled in regular public schools, he insisted that “public policy in Pakistan has to focus on public education” in order to prevent those students from slipping through the cracks. The problem, he added, was that “the education that they are receiving is pretty bad. It really does not prepare them to be active participants in the workforce and contribute to the economic development of the country.”
Still, most of the experts sounded optimistic about Pakistan’s potential to mitigate some of the adverse effects associated with the near-doubling of the country’s population during the next 40 years. By starting to more openly address an issue that the government and the powerful Pakistani media have long preferred to ignore, they seemed to agree the country is taking a big step in dealing head-on with its looming demographic challenges.
“I don’t look at the Pakistani population as a burden, but rather as an asset,” remarked Burki. “But it has to be managed.”
Photo Credit: “School Girls Talk in Islamabad,” courtesy of flickr user Documentally.
Interview With Wilson Center Scholar Jill Shankleman: Could Transparency Initiatives Mitigate the Resource Curse in Afghanistan?›June 25, 2010 // By Schuyler NullIn the wake of The New York Times article detailing a potential mineral bonanza in Afghanistan, Senators Ben Cardin and Dick Lugar earlier this week published an op-ed in support of a bill that would create “an international standard for transparency in law” by requiring oil, gas, and mining industries to report amounts paid for drilling/mining rights in their SEC filings. A similar program, albeit a voluntary one, already exists – the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). The senators, however, raised questions about the ability of EITI to ensure transparency and accountability of payments for future mining rights to Afghanistan’s government. Joining EITI was a “good first step,” they say, “but too many countries and companies remain outside this system.”
Afghanistan is one of the newest members of EITI, which now covers more than 30 resource-rich countries. The initiative was launched in 2002 by a small coalition of NGOs and leading extractive industry companies to help companies make sure payments made to local governments were not being used nefariously. Jill Shankleman, a scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center and former senior environmental specialist at the World Bank, is an expert on EITI and oil, gas, and mineral extraction in developing nations. We were able to track her down in Khartoum to answer a few questions about the initiative and how it might affect Afghanistan and other conflict-ridden but resource-rich nations.
New Security Beat: EITI is a young initiative and only two countries have yet reached validation status. Afghanistan became an EITI candidate in February and has until February of 2012 to be validated. What have been the primary stumbling blocks for the many candidate countries yet to be fully validated?
Jill Shankleman: EITI is quite specific about what countries must do to be validated. This includes having an effective tri-sector steering group (representatives from government, oil and mineral companies, and civil society) with a budget and access to information and also getting data validated by one of a small number of registered validators.NSB: EITI, by its voluntary nature, favors a country-led approach. Would a bill like Senator Cardin and Lugar’s which would only affect domestic companies have any real impact on Afghanistan?
Some countries have underestimated these requirements. The make-or-break for EITI will be whether a significant number of countries get validated over the next year.
JS: The Lugar bill would complement EITI by ensuring disclosure of revenues paid to the government even in non-EITI countries. So it would accelerate transparency. However, it does not substitute for EITI because it lacks the civil society component, and would not cover payments made by companies that are not SEC-listed. It is an important step but does not reduce the need for countries to enter into EITI.NSB: Do you think EITI has been effective thus far?
JS: EITI was always going to be a “slow burn” initiative. It will only have an impact over time, as information is disclosed, and people become aware of how to interpret the data and are able to use information to put pressure on government to use income from non-renewable resources in an effective way that stimulates development. I think there is a head of steam building up behind the initiative, with some very important recent developments such as Iraq joining, and the largest Chinese oil company, CNPC, joining the Iraq steering committee as a company member.NSB: Can EITI work in conflict-ridden countries like Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo?
I see signs that EITI is becoming established as the international standard for revenue transparency. Also there are indications that EITI provides some opportunities to strengthen civil society’s voice (even, as in Equatorial Guinea, where the country has been suspended from EITI for the moment).
JS: It is the only game in town, and worth supporting in conflict-ridden countries. Are there other extractive transparency initiatives that would be more effective in these countries? Not really. The Natural Resources Charter developed by Paul Collier et al. is a wider process that deals with how revenues are raised and used, as well as how they are disclosed. This offers a broader toolkit and is wholly consistent with EITI, but lacks any kind of compliance mechanism.Read more on Afghanistan’s mineral wealth and the misuse of geology in policy on The New Security Beat.
Sources: EITI, Politico.
Photo Credit: “U.S./French convoy across southern Afghanistan” courtesy of flickr user Kenny Holston 21.
›The European Union’s biofuel goal for 2020 “is a good example of setting a target…without really thinking through [the] secondary, third, or fourth order consequences,” said Alexander Carius, co-founder and managing director of Adelphi Research and Adelphi Consult. While the 2007-2008 global food crisis demonstrated that the growth of crops for fuels has “tremendous effects” in the developing world, analysis of these threats are underdeveloped and are not incorporated into climate change policies, he said.
At the recent Wilson Center event, “Backdraft: The Conflict Potential of Climate Mitigation and Adaptation,” Carius was joined by Cleo Paskal of Chatham House, Stacy VanDeveer of the University of New Hampshire, and Geoff Dabelko of ECSP to discuss the unintended security consequences of climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies. [Video Below]
Giving the Green Light to REDD?“Who owns the carbon rights?” Carius asked of the UN’s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation program, or REDD. The program’s design raises serious questions about governance, treatment of local communities, and resource access that must be resolved to avoid the risk of conflict.
In comparison with other forest resources, the issues surrounding REDD “are slightly different because [sequestered carbon] is not a product that can [physically] be traded,” noted Carius. Still, VanDeveer warned that efforts to protect rainforests in the 1980s and 1990s morphed into “justification for states across parts of South America and parts of Asia to assert state control over people and land and territory for which the state did not actually have control.” The result was “a lot of violence and a lot of rights reductions in huge parts of the rainforested world,” he said.
From Oil to Rare Earths
Mitigation efforts will reduce carbon emissions, but VanDeveer questioned whether we fully understand the consequences of doing so. “What are the implications for the existing petro states if we actually do bend the curve on carbon emissions?” he asked.
VanDeveer does not believe that the evidence supports New York Times columnist Tom Friedman’s assertion that falling oil prices would undermine the authority of autocratic petro regimes and promote greater freedoms and democracy. If a fall in prices does generate such reforms, “it will be a historic surprise,” he said.
The switch to new energy sources raise questions of its own. Many renewable energy technologies under discussion–from windmills to hybrid electric cars–depend upon one or more rare earth elements (REE), which are also parts of key military hardware.
An all-out commitment to technologies dependent on rare earth elements risks creating another foreign energy dependence for the United States that it is not prepared to handle. “We know China, for example, has been very active in securing these supplies for a very long time and see it in the context of general strategic security,” Paskal said. The United States, on the other hand, has mainly examined REE supplies from a “commercial context,” she said.
China’s strategic perspective grants it a wider range of options for securing supplies and creates a “very uneven playing field,” said Paskal. For example, China’s relationship with Sudan is “a complete country-to-country package deal,” she said. “They’re not just exchanging oil, they’re doing military training and infrastructure, and arms supply, and diplomatic cover.”
Not Just Conflict, But Cooperation
Not all is dire, however, as new climate mitigation and adaptation strategies may also provide platforms for building cooperation. According to VanDeveer, one of the greatest opportunities could be the development of cross-boundary energy grids to balance intermittent renewable energy sources like solar or wind.
For example, the proposed Desertec project, which will link European markets with solar energy plants in North Africa, is scheduled to be operational within five years. In South Asia, Nepal and Bhutan’s large hydroelectric potential could be developed to export power to energy-starved areas in China and India, said VanDeveer.
In addition, Carius noted that monitoring and verification systems like those envisioned under REDD can have a positive impact by helping to build “the necessary governance structures at the local level.” Such benefits of adaptation strategies may offer a triple bottom line, improving not only adaptive capacity, but also fostering peacebuilding and development.
More Research Needed
All of the panelists noted, however, that our understanding of the unintended consequences of climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies is only rudimentary and more research is needed. “The argument is not really to take a position saying this is good or bad,” Carius said, but instead to call for a “careful assessment.”
The panelists stressed that taking actions to mitigate and adapt to climate change is necessary, but that we must evaluate the full range of potential effects of these strategies. “We need to blow open the box on how complicated these problems are,” Paskal said. “We need as many different people involved and as many different sorts of solutions as possible.”
Dan Asin is a graduate student at Johns Hopkins SAIS and a former intern with the Environmental Change and Security Program.
›June 24, 2010 // By Tara InnesThe coup in Madagascar in early 2009 not only politically destabilized the country, but also damaged its ability to protect its unique environment. A hotspot of biodiversity, Madagascar is the home of many species that exist nowhere else in the world.
Deposed president Marc Ravalomanana, while criticized for prioritizing business interests, was a proponent of environmental conservation who leveraged the natural wealth of his country to promote sustainable development.
The coup caused donors to withdraw aid to the country; destroyed the tourism industry, and changed the priorities of the country’s leadership. The new government, led by President Andry Rajoelina, has failed to help—and has possibly harmed–Madagascar’s rich ecosystem.
Shortly after the coup, the United States suspended all non-humanitarian aid to Madagascar, including aid targeted at conservation efforts. The World Bank and the African Union also cut aid to the country.
Without international aid—which provides 90 percent of the funding for conservation, according to MongaBay—parks and endangered species cannot be preserved and protected. Conservation International documented reports of endangered lemurs being slaughtered and sold for bushmeat by poachers.
Funding for USAID’s integrated population-health-environment programs, which seek to improve health and reduce population pressures in remote communities near protected areas, was also suspended. Prior to the coup such programs were heralded largely as a success.
Instability has also made Madagascar an unattractive vacation destination. The tourism industry – much of it eco-tourism – has taken a massive economic hit, losing 12 percent of its value in 2009 and depriving some communities of a major source of support. The drop in tourist visits to the country’s national parks has “a big impact on the economics of the villages as 50 percent of the park entrance fees are used for village conservation and development projects,” the manager of the Ranomafana National Park told MongaBay’s Rhett Butler earlier this year.
While Ravalomanana tripled the area of protected lands in Madagascar during his tenure as president, he also made several unpopular decisions leading to rising food costs and unrest. Just prior to the coup, South Korea’s Daewoo Logistics Corporation attempted to negotiate a 99-year lease on 3.2 million hectares of farmland, contributing to anti-Ravalomanana sentiment fueled by Rajoelina, who later canceled the deal.
Some—including Ravalomanana–claim that the new government is being funded in part by illegal lumber exports. More recently, members of the transitional government banned trade in rainforest timber, but there are some concerns that this ban will not be enforceable given the continued political instability, reports MongaBay.
The damage already done “demonstrates that long-term conservation success depends on the overall political stability of a country and in turn on the steady improvement of the lives of its citizens,” wrote Rowan Moore Gerety in wildmadagascar.org last year.
“It’s difficult to work without a state,” said Guy Suzon Ramangason, director general of the organization that manages many of the national parks, recently told the New York Times.
Perhaps that situation will be rectified. In May Rajoelina announced that elections will be held in late 2010, in which he will not be running. Until then, it unlikely that conservation will receive adequate attention—from either Madagascar’s government or international donors.
Photo Credit: “Lemur behind the mesh” courtesy of flickr user Tambako the Jaguar
›It’s difficult to imagine a scenario for a stable and peaceful world that doesn’t involve a stable and peaceful Pakistan. The country is among the world’s most populous and is also home to the world’s second largest Muslim population, making it the only Muslim majority nuclear state. Its history has been characterized by periods of military rule, political instability, and regional conflicts. This week on dialogue host John Milewski explores the nation’s changing demographics and what they may tell us about near and long term prospects for this vital U.S. ally with guests Michael Kugelman, Zeba Sathar, and Mehtab Karim.
Watch above or on MHz Worldview.
Michael Kugelman is program associate with the Wilson Center’s Asia Program. Much of his recent research and programming focus has involved demographics in Pakistan. He is a regular contributor to Dawn, one of Pakistan’s major English language newspapers.
Zeba Sathar is Pakistan country director at the Population Council in Islamabad. Prior to joining the council, she was chief of research in demography at the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics and a consultant with the World Bank.
Mehtab Karim is a distinguished senior fellow and affiliated professor with the School of Public Policy at George Mason University. Additionally, he is a senior research fellow at the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life, specializing in global Muslim demographics. Previously, he was a professor of demography at Aga Khan University in Karachi.
Note: A QuickTime plug-in may be required to launch the video.
›Samantha Constant and Mary Kraetsch of the Brookings Institution have created a handy visual aid to understanding the Middle East’s demographics. The interactive flash graphic shows select economic and demographic information as you scroll over each country, including GDP per capita, youth percentage of the population, secondary school enrollment rate, and unemployment figures. Clicking on each country brings up a more detailed fact sheet that breaks down economic, education, and demographic statistics.
The companion write-up to the map stresses the importance of these figures to youth-inclusive development. Citing the 2009 UN Arab Human Development Report, the authors point out that the region will need to create about 51 million jobs by 2020 to account for youth entering the work force and already high unemployment rates.
The report does however shy away from some of the Middle East’s most difficult demographic challenges. Iraq and the West Bank are mentioned as areas that will continue to have large youth bulges, but Yemen, which has far and away the most troubling demographics in the region, is not mentioned at all. Adding “total fertility rate” as a statistic, which shows the average number of children born to an average woman over her lifetime, might illustrate these trouble areas more clearly. As illustrated by data from the Population Reference Bureau, Yemen (5.5), the Palestinian Territory (4.6), and Iraq (4.4) all have noticeably higher total fertility rates than other countries in the region, which helps explain why their demographic problems will continue.
The inclusion of total fertility rates would also help make a stronger argument for closer attention to be paid to women’s rights issues, as generally better women’s rights translates to lower total fertility rates, which help draw down youth bulges over time. The report only briefly mentions that more research is needed to create better paths for young women to become productive members of society with “greater career opportunities beyond traditional roles.”
The map does mention that information will be updated on a regular basis so it is worth checking back to see what it added to this useful primer.
Sources: The Brookings Institution, Population Reference Bureau.
Interactive Map: “Understanding the Generation in Waiting” courtesy of The Brookings Institution.
Join the Conversation
- Strengthening the Field: The Role of Demography in Responding to Climate Change Wednesday, May 14, 2014
- Increasing Resilience to Climate Change Wednesday, April 23, 2014
- Aging and Security: What Can Governments Do About Falling Birth Rates? Thursday, April 17, 2014
- El Salvador: meet the women who dare to challenge the anti-abortion state | Global development | The Guardian
- Does Kenya have the courage to lead on women's rights in Africa?
- Mourning versus survival in Swaziland
- Cuba's condom shortage raises fears of imminent health crisis
- The challenge of youth unemployment - Yemen