Environmental security training in Geneva
Environmental security training in Geneva

About the GCSP’s environmental security training

The human security dimension must be an essential part of current and future policymaking if we wish to achieve sustainable peace. We at the GCSP’s Human Security Cluster embrace a comprehensive approach to security in our activities. Among our focus areas is environmental security, as one of the prerequisites to achieving peace, security and international stability. We view environmental security as a crucial component of security policy. We seek to increase stakeholders’ awareness of this aspect of security and its relationship with state and human security, and to enhance the decision-making skills of security actors from governments, international organisations, civil society, and the private sector worldwide.

We focus in particular on the complex interlinkages between environmental security and a range of security challenges such as conflict, migration, health and terrorism.

In our view, environmental security encompasses several areas of research, including climate change, resource management and biodiversity loss. Having a full picture of the challenges we face allows us to think in terms of planetary and ecological security, to widen the horizons of our course participants, and to allow them to connect the dots between the area(s) of security they are particularly interested in and the various interrelated aspects of environmental security. Importantly, this approach aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030, which put the 5Ps: – People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnership – at the core of human endeavour. Four of the 17 goals are directly linked to the issue of environmental security: SDG 6 on clean water and sanitation, SDG 13 on climate action, SDG 14 on the seas and marine resources, and SDG 15 on terrestrial ecosystems. By focusing on the issue of environmental security, the GCSP links its main mission of promoting peace and security to the increasingly urgent need for sustainable development.

⇨ Find all our environment and security training in Geneva

We do this through our executive courses and public events. Our flagship course covering the human security perspective is the two-month New Issues in Security Course (NISC). In addition, we offer a customised course on Climate Change Security Challenges and Solutions, as well as other tailor-made modules focusing on individual subject areas or the link between environmental security and other security challenges. Thus, during our course on Environment and Security we offer participants the opportunity to analyse the threats that humankind faces and think in terms of solutions to the challenges these threats pose, including climate change. In our course on Climate Security Futures we help participants to develop the essential skill of strategic foresight and utilise it to improve their decision-making and policymaking abilities when they find themselves facing a wide range of climate change scenarios. Finally, in our Summer Academy on Climate, Land and Security – co-organised with Initiatives of Change and Triple Capital – we look at the nexus among climate, land, and security, and think in terms of improving stakeholders’ capacities to deal with related challenges at the local, national, regional, and global levels.

Through our executive education, policy analysis, and dialogue courses and activities, experts and practitioners have opportunities to analyse environmental security threats, explore solutions, and create long-lasting networks of security policy professionals.


How do we define environmental security?

Answer: Environmental security is assured when the environment is able to support life in all its richness and complexity. At the GCSP we discuss all aspects of environmental security, with a particular focus on climate change, resource management, and biodiversity loss, within a comprehensive approach to security that encompasses both state and human security.


Why is environmental security important?

Answer: Environmental security is having an increasing impact on other security challenges such as conflict, health security and the movement of people. Preventing environmental degradation, dangerous climate change and biodiversity loss will decrease this impact in the future. Environmental security should be a part of any peace and security curriculum in order to maximise sound decision-making and policymaking, with the aim of meeting the SDGs.   


How can we improve global environmental security?

Answer: Global environmental security can be improved by increased coordination and cooperation at the local, national, regional, and global levels of governance. The integration and scaling up of existing solutions, such as land restoration efforts in low- and mid-income countries, provides one of many sensible paths towards environmental security.


Is resilience important for environmental security?

Answer: Resilience is one of the crucial factors that will help to address environmental security in the long term. Resilience can have a practical aspect, such as the successful management of local or national infrastructure – a good example would be the Netherlands’ efforts to secure its coastal areas. Another aspect would be good governance, because countries with good rule-of-law track records tend to be better prepared to address environmental challenges.


How can environmental change impact global security?

Answer: Environmental change can impact global security by changing the power relations between countries. For example, it can lead to increased competition, such as in the Arctic or the Sahel. Importantly, environmental change should not be seen as the only factor impacting relationships between states, but rather one of the elements of these relationships.


How do environmental issues manifest as security challenges?

Answer: Environmental issues can impact security at several levels. Firstly, they can have a direct impact, e.g. when natural disasters impact people’s livelihoods and physical security. Secondly, they can cause systems insecurity, e.g. when environmental insecurity translates into food or water shortages. Finally, the political and geopolitical level can be adversely affected as the result of the first two, combined with poor governance and corruption.  


How do threats to environmental security relate to other security sectors?

Answer: Threats to environmental security may impact other security sectors by exacerbating existing local, national, regional or even global tensions. For example, they can contribute to conflict due to the scarcity of natural resources (water, food), which will become an increasing problem as the global population grows and climate change degrades the environment’s ability to provide these essential resources.


Is environmental degradation an emerging security issue?

Answer: Many communities in the world, particularly in low- and mid-income countries, have been affected by environmental degradation for decades due to failed, inadequate, or mismanaged industrial and agricultural actions and policies. It is therefore not an emerging security issue as such.  However, this aspect of environmental security can be exacerbated by accelerating climate changes that are having an unequal impact on specific regions, e.g. the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa and South-east Asia.


How can I apply to participate in the GCSP’s Environment and Security training course?

Answer: Learn more about the course and apply for the next edition here: https://www.gcsp.ch/courses/environment-and-security-virtual-learning-journey-2022


Where does the Environment and Security course training take place?

Answer: Learn more about the course and apply for the next edition here: https://www.gcsp.ch/courses/environment-and-security-virtual-learning-journey-2022


Do I get a certificate after the GCSP’s Environment and Security training course?

Answer: Yes, you will receive certification once you have completed all the course modules to the satisfaction of the course director.


Is the certificate of the GCSP’s Environment and Security training course accredited?

Answer: Yes. Upon completion of the course you will receive a GCSP certificate accredited by the ISO and EduQua. The GCSP achieved ISO 9001:2015 certification in 2020. This is an international quality label that specifies the requirements for an organisation’s quality-management system. The certification is obtained following audits based on a number of quality-management principles, including strong customer focus, management motivation and commitment; a process approach; and continuous improvement. An ISO 9001:2015 certification ensures, inter alia, that GCSP customers obtain consistent, high-quality products and services. The GCSP was first awarded EduQua certification in 2017. EduQua is a quality label for continuing education institutions recognised and supported by the Swiss government. Certification is awarded following an external audit that focuses on clients’ needs and satisfaction in the following areas: course portfolio, information and communication, course design and delivery, qualifications of teaching staff, quality-management system, and leadership.