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This chapter assesses the rights governing access to globally shared natural resources, such as fish stocks, deep seabed minerals, and clean air. The international system is based on the principle of national sovereignty, which says that each state has absolute, perpetual, and exclusive rights within its national territory. This construction does not, however, match ecological realities. There is a stark contrast between states' territorial divisions and the biosphere's ecological connectedness. The chapter explores this tension and its relationship to decision-making in natural resource management. How can sovereign states manage the earth's resources if they are fragmented in separate territories that overlap complex ecosystems? This question is often approached using the ‘tragedy of the commons’ metaphor. When the metaphor is applied to the global commons, two main policy options emerge. The first is a coordinated approach building on the notion of a ‘common heritage of humankind’. The second policy option is a decentralized approach based on states' sovereign rights.

Chapter

Geoff Dabelko

This chapter discusses the concept of environmental security. It explains the way environment and climate change have both broadened and deepened the issue of security. It describes the evolution of the concept as a merger of international environmental agreements, efforts to contest the meaning and practice of security, the proliferation of new security issues in the post-Cold War era, recognition that environmental and climate changes pose grave risks to human well-being, and the growing community of research practice that seeks to build peace through natural resource management. The chapter examines the different meanings of environmental security, and then explains four major categories of environmental security problems—namely, the way environmental change can be a factor in violent conflict, the way environmental change can be a risk to national security, the way war and preparation for war can damage the environment, and the way environmental change can be a risk to human security. It explains how environmental security can mean different things to different people and can apply to vastly different referent objects in ways that sometimes have very little to do with environmental change.

Chapter

Jon Barnett and Geoff Dabelko

This chapter examines the concept of environmental security, focusing on how it has both broadened and deepened the issue of security. It first traces the origins of environmental security, showing that it is the product of a merger of international environmental agreements, efforts by the peace movement to contest the meaning and practice of security, the proliferation of new security issues in the post-Cold War era, recognition that environmental changes pose grave risks to human well-being, and the growing community of research practice that seeks to build peace through natural resource management. The chapter goes on to consider the different meanings of environmental security, along with four major categories of environmental security problem: how environmental change can be a factor in violent conflict or a risk to national security, how war and preparation for war can damage the environment, and how environmental change can pose a risk to human security.