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Environment and Security Program at CIESIN

About the Program
Environmental stress and human security are increasingly seen as intertwined. The Environment and Security Program at CIESIN explores these connections issue via scientific and applied research, data set development, and educational activities.
CIESIN has used its expertise across disciplines to contribute to a wide variety of projects and activities focused on environment and security issues.
Data ANalytics and Tools for Ecosecurity
CIESIN is partnering with ISciences and Case Consulting International on a project, Data ANalytics and Tools for Ecosecurity (DANTE), to develop an open source software toolkit for systematic monitoring, forecasting, and analysis of environmental stressors and their impacts on security. Supported by the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC), DANTE focuses on the role of environmental stressors in three key areas: international migration and refugee flows; internal migration and isolated populations; and conflict and political instability. The tools are being designed to accelerate quantitative interdisciplinary analysis of environmental stressors, taking into account demographics, economics, health, conflict, hazards, and other factors.

Groundswell: Preparing for Internal Migration. This research by World Bank staff and a team of researchers at CIESIN, the City University of New York Institute for Demographic Research, and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research is the first to focus on longer-term climate impacts on crop and water resources and the ways in which they may influence internal migration. It employs a novel modeling framework that provides estimates not only of future numbers, but also likely hotspots of climate out-migration and in-migration in three regions: Mexico and Central America, East Africa, and South Asia. Unlike other recent efforts to model the impact of future climate change on population movements, this effort models across entire regions rather than at local or subnational levels. It is also based upon impacts on crop production and water resources, using model outputs from PIK’s ISIMIP project, rather than projected temperature and precipitation from global climate models. The report is here.

Spatial Data for Fragile States. Fragile states have found it difficult to harness the power of spatial data for governance, despite proven successes in other settings. CIESIN was activie in leading a consortium of fragile state governments, spatial data experts and global policy makers in developing an action plan for implementing spatial data infrastructure in fragile states, and hosted a conference at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center, Italy, to launch this effort.
Platform for Haiti Data and Resources. As part of the Haiti Research and Policy Program at the Earth Institute, CIESIN developed the Haiti Geoportal, a platform for environmental and other spatial data and resources from ongoing research in Haiti. Featuring an online interactive map, the geoportal enables communities and partners to download maps of benchmarks for core integrated development indicators, household socio-economic variables, and environmental features.
Mapping and Technical Support for Haiti. CIESIN provided technical support to the Office of E-Governance in Haiti in a range of mapping and data collection activities to help enhance governance in Haiti and national strategic planning.
Capacity-Building in West Africa. For the Environmental Protection Agency of Sierra Leone, CIESIN conducted a needs assessment to help the agency build up its spatial analysis, mapping, and environmental monitoring and modeling capabilities, Assessing Vulnerability to Climate Change. For the project African and Latin American Resilience to Climate Change (ARCC), technical support in climate science, vulnerability assessments, and vulnerability mapping was provided by CIESIN and Tetra Tech/ARD, the World Resources Institute, and others. Funded by USAID.
Climate Adaptation Information Systems for East Africa. For the project Planning for Resilience in East Africa through Policy, Adaptation, Research, and Economic Development (PREPARED), CIESIN and Tetra Tech/ARD assisted in the design of data and information systems for climate change adaptation, biodiversity conservation, and water supply and sanitation services in East Africa. Funded by USAID.
CIESIN has offered workshops, academic courses, and trainings on different aspects of environment and security linkages, including an executive training in environmental peacebuilding.

Environmental Security and Sustaining Peace MOOC.  Launched in March 2018, this free, eight-week Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) gave an in-depth introduction to the multiple roles that natural resources and the environment play in the onset, escalation, and resolution of, and recovery from, violent conflicts. The course was aimed at peace and security specialists, natural resource experts, sustainable development practitioners, and advanced undergraduates and graduate students. CIESIN deputy director Marc Levy was among core faculty that include Erika Weinthal, Richard Matthew, David Jensen, and Carl Bruch. The non-credit-granting course was offered by the SDG Academy, an educational initiative of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network.

Annual Course in Environment, Conflict and Resolution Strategies. Formerly offered each year at the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs, this course which CIESIN developed provides an overview of links between environment, peace, and security and how such links are reflected in national policies, international programs, and business and NGO initiatives. An element of the course was an online simulation of a post-crisis conflict assessment and program implementation, “Ground|Work,” developed with the Columbia Center for New Media Teaching and Learning.
Climate Change and Human Security. For the Working Group II’s contribution to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (WGII AR5) on climate change impacts, adaptation and vulnerability, CIESIN deputy director, Marc Levy, was a lead author of chapter 12 on human security, a topic highlighted in the Report for the first time. Among this chapter’s key findings are that societies in conflict are more vulnerable to climate change; that migration is a widely used strategy for adapting to climate impacts; that climate change is likely to amplify conflict risk; and that climate change threatens to disrupt geopolitical security dynamics.
Peacebuilding and Natural Resouces Blog Series/EI State of the Planet. Earth Institute researchers, partners and experts in the international peacebuilding community explored a variety of topics related to managing natural resources to build peace, drawing on current issues and events and new research.
Designing Environmental Restoration Programs in Politically Fragile States: Lessons From Haiti.” A chapter by CIESIN program director Alex Fischer and Marc Levy in the book, Harnessing Natural Resources for Peacebuilding, explores the challenges of environmental restoration projects in countries and context of uncertainty and fragility.
“Climate Change Hotspots Mapping: What Have We Learned?” This article by CIESIN senior research associate Alex de Sherbinin, featured in a special issue of the journal Climatic Change, “Climate and Security: Evidence, Emerging Risks, and a New Agenda,” focuses on “hotspots” of climate change—regions especially vulnerable to current or future climate impacts where human security may be at risk.
“Enhancing the Relevance of Shared Socioeconomic Pathways for Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability Research.” Marc Levy is second author of the paper by Bas J. van Ruijven, Levy, and 22 colleagues. It appears in the Climatic Change Special Issue, "A Framework for the Development of New Socio-economic Scenarios for Climate Change Research.”
Where the Rain Falls: Climate Change, Food and Livelihood Security, and Migration Global Policy Report. (November 2012, 73 pages, 3.65 MB PDF). Released by CIESIN, CARE, and the United Nations University.
In Search of Shelter: Mapping the Effects of Climate Change on Human Migration and Displacement. (June 2009, 26 pages, 2.54 MB PDF) Climate change impacts are already causing displacement and migration, and consequences for almost all aspects of development, including human security and political stability could be devastating, says this report produced by CARE, CIESIN, UNHCR, UNU-EHS, and The World Bank. It contains original maps that pinpoint areas where climate change may cause displacement, and policy recommendations.
Assessment of Select Climate Change Impacts on U.S. National Security. (July 2008, 52 pages, 4.52 MB). This working paper resulted from research funded by the U.S. National Intelligence Council as an input to a National Intelligence Assessment on climate change implications for U.S. National Security, produced May 2008.


This page last modified: Aug 24, 2020