NATO Environmental Security Study Turns Twenty

The relationship between environment and security has gained strength and importance as governments and corporate institutions have studied their climate impacts. Starting with the question of “what is the environment”, these major players have begun to address how they are trying to work with climate scientists on how to head off major climatic related issues associated with their activities. They are relying on a number of studies that have their origin in the 1980s and 1990s as they began to grapple with pieces of the environment and the security structure coming out of the Cold War.

NATO Discussion
NATO Being Openly Discussed in 1949

The NATO/CCMS Pilot Study Environment and Security in an International Context (Final Report, March 1999, Report No. 232) is one of the seminal studies and it is having a twenty year anniversary in 2019. The Pilot Study demonstrated that the issue of environmental impact is major one across a significant portion of the security (defense and intelligence) of 27 NATO member and Partnership countries. Sponsored by Germany (Ministry of the Environment) and the United States (Department of Defense), as well as several other countries, the participants in the three year old study focused on both domestic and international issues and determined that environment impacts on security in a substantial fashion. What the study also found was that it takes contributions from the security and environment sides of the equation to tease out the multiple causes of environment and security issues.

The Pilot Study also showed that the cross over between environment and security offered a plethora of potential options for addressing the issue at hand. Smaller contributions from multiple agencies can handle things quickly and can get ahead of the issues before the topic gets out of hand.

As we begin looking back at a number of studies that tied environment and security together, it is important to address the first true multi-national case. The NATO/CCMS Pilot Study Environment and Security in an International Context took the environment and security question and boosted it to where it was bigger than Germany or the US. The environment must be dealt with intelligently and swiftly before it clearly gets out of hand – the environment knows no borders.