Statement delivered by Donato Kiniger-Passigli, Vice-President of WAAS

Climate change, biodiversity, cultural heritage and human security

People, planet, peace, prosperity, and partnerships. These are the concerns that bring us together and elevate the importance of why human security must be central to our discussions on climate change and the loss of biodiversity.

Human security is concerned not only with the challenges of today but also the consequences of our actions or inactions for future generations. And nowhere is this more evident than how climate change and disruptions to our biodiversity impact our current and future existence.  

For those whose lives are dependent on our ecosystems, economic and household security are intimately connected to the natural environment. When resources are degraded, the effect is direct and immediate: families are forced to migrate with few or no assets to rely on, faced with hunger, lack of shelter and access to basic social services from health to sanitation. Their social networks are broken, their hopes are diminished, and their prospects for themselves, their future and their way of life is demolished.

A focus on human security offers an invaluable framework to identify and unpack the compounding magnitude and the different consequences that climate change, loss of biodiversity, and the degradation of ecosystems can have on people’s economic, food, health, environmental, community, cultural and personal security.

For some twenty years, human security has underscored the interconnected aspirations of people to be free from fear, want and indignity. It has called for protection and empowerment strategies that are people-centred, context-specific, comprehensive and prevention-oriented. And it has conveyed the salience of cultural heritage to people’s sense of wellbeing, identity, community and dignity.

What is human security?

In its simplest understanding, human security is a people-centered view of what it means to be safe and secure. It focuses on the risks people face and what they need to build resilient societies to protect against violent shocks, harmful disruptions, and man-made and natural calamities.

And yet we live in a world where one crisis succeeds another, creating a perfect storm in which a pandemic, combined with geopolitical rivalries, new and protracted conflicts, climate change, persistent inequalities, misinformation, propaganda, violent extremism and criminality continue to weaken the social fabric of poor and rich nations alike.

Today’s threats are no longer isolated events, confined within national borders. Recent examples form the Covid-19 pandemic to the war in Ukraine, and the triple planetary crisis of climate, biodiversity and pollution respect no national borders. Their destruction travels the globe, with dire consequences on all societies.

With multiple crises, a focus on human security considers current and future risks to the survival, livelihood and dignity of people and addresses human insecurities before they become humanitarian crises.

As noted by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, “Human security, national security and global security are indivisible. When people fear for their lives, their communities, societies and countries are at increased risk. When people enjoy safety and well-being, so do their countries and the world.”

Applying the human security approach

The human security approach is a multidimensional analytical framework to assess, develop and implement comprehensive responses to a range of challenges that are complex and require the combined inputs of the international  system, in partnership with governments, the private sector, non-governmental entities, and the communities themselves.

By drilling down to ascertain the root causes of current and emerging risks and vulnerabilities, the human security approach goes beyond quick responses and is prevention-oriented, promoting the development of early warning mechanisms that help to mitigate the impact of existing threats and, where possible, prevent the occurrence of future challenges.

Human Security for All: The HS4A Campaign

The HS4A is a multi-partner networked campaign that engages a wide range of people from around the globe with the aim to generate widespread awareness and build momentum for a transformative social movement that calls for and advances human security for all.