Climate change-related human security threats to border integrity and safeguarding for South Africa

Vorster, Magriet
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Climate change is a very current and contentious issue that has received a lot of attention during the past two decades because of its global influence and impact. Climate change affects the entire globe and the impact is mostly continental and regional and is not limited along state borders. Whether a person or group believe in the existence of global warming or not, the scientific evidence leaves no doubt that the climate is changing (Mazo, 2010: 9). Climate change influence the environment people live in and have a direct impact on all aspects of their daily lives. In a globalized world almost all problems cross borders, and environmental issues have long been recognized as among the most international and the most transnational of all (Parsons, 2009: 5). Climate change acts as a “threat multiplier” by exacerbating existing vulnerabilities, and must be analysed in relation to the adaptive capacity of those affected (individuals, communities and states), taking account of the wider political, socio-economic and demographic context (ACCES, 2011: 9). Although climate change has a global impact, the African continent is likely to be more severely affected than other regions of the globe and it will have a profound negative impact on all facets of human security. Long-term shifts in the climate seem likely to catalyse conflict by creating or exacerbating food, water and energy scarcities, triggering population movements, and placing larger groups of people in competition for more and more limited resources. Increased climate variability, including the greater frequency of extreme weather events, will also complicate access to resources, thereby exacerbating conditions that are conducive to promoting conflict. Southern Africa is described as a predominantly semi-arid region with high intra- seasonal and inter-annual rainfall variability, with extreme events such as droughts and floods occurring frequently. In Southern Africa, there has been an increase in inter-annual variability of rainfall over the past 40 years, with more intense and widespread droughts. Floods and droughts in Southern Africa are gradually increasing in number and frequency as well and already the entire region is considered a climate change "hotspot". As can be seen from the findings of the various chapters, climate change has a very complex predicted impact on all the dimensions of human security and a few major key issues in this regard came to light. These issues include urbanisation, migration, environmental degradation and biodiversity loss, water scarcity, spread of diseases, slow onset climate change, economic decline and poverty, criminality and conflict. The most profound issues that will have an impact on South African border integrity and safeguarding include urbanisation, migration, environmental degradation and biodiversity loss, water scarcity, spread of diseases, economic decline and poverty, criminality and conflict. Migration can be singularly highlighted as it has the potential to amplify and exacerbate all of the abovementioned issues. States have national security strategies and policies in order to guide policy and legislation to adequately protect the state from threats and to determine national security priorities. Border safeguarding is an important aspect of state security and strategy, policy and legislation, informed by the national security strategy and policy, constantly have to evolve and adapt to changes in the threat pattern affecting states. The border safeguarding environment of any state is very complex and faced with multiple external and international threats. Climate change-related human security threats will further amplify and complicate these threats as the impact of climate change becomes more pronounced in the southern African region. In order for South Africa to successfully address these threats in the border safeguarding environment it is important that a sound National Security Strategy and Policy provide focus and priorities for all government departments involved. This is a very complex field with multiple factors and only the key issues are highlighted and discussed in this paper.
Global Positioning System, Globalisation, National security, GPS, South Africa, Climate change, Human security, South Africa, Migration