In common parlance, the term human security has been used to refer to freedom from violence and from the fear of violence. However, the former UN secretary general Kofi Annan said that security means far more than the absence of violence. He said that we cannot be secure amidst starvation, we cannot build peace without alleviating poverty and we cannot build freedom on foundations of injustice. On the other hand, environmental degradation refers to the deterioration of the environment manifested in depletion of resources such as water, air and soil; destruction of ecosystems and extinction of wildlife.

A polluted River

A polluted River

Human survival is dependent of the well being of the environment. Man extracts environmental resources to meet his needs and given the surging human population, pressure has piled on the environment. Environmental resources are extracted at a rate not sustainable – resulting in environmental degradation whose manifestations lead to famine, hunger, water scarcity, conflict over natural resources, extreme temperatures and increase in pathogenic diseases. All these have a bearing on human security.

Depletion of resources, destruction of ecosystems and extinction of wildlife leads to enormous strain on the population’s ability to meet its needs. The humanity depends on natural resources to meet its needs and thus a struggle over the few remaining resources as everybody tries to get his share. Often, this ends up in escalated violence pitching communities against each other. The struggle for resources leads to inequality in their distribution and ownership.
Food insecurity is a result low agricultural productivity which is caused by poor soils among others. This exposes people to nutritional diseases and thus a security threat – lack of food leads to an upsurge in violent crimes as people struggle to meet their nutritional needs. Due to environmental degradation there is a new type of refugees called environmental refugees – these are people fleeing from hostile environmental conditions to safer ones for their own security.

Environmental degradation has far reaching impacts on human security across the globe and it is upon the entire humanity, you and I to take measures to ensure that the rate of environmental degradation is arrested and even reversed. For this way, human security will be guaranteed.