SSN: Environmental Security Seminar

A group of people standing outside.

The Near East South Asia (NESA) Center for Strategic Studies held its “Strategic Studies Network (SSN) Environmental Security” seminar in Washington, D.C., from 22–24 April 2024 for 21 participants from 18 countries.

A group of people standing outside.
A group photograph of the SSN: Environmental Security Seminar, held from 22–24 April 2024.


The three-day seminar had the goal of bringing together participants to better understand the history and significance of climate change. Through presentations and discussions, participants could assess the impacts of climate change on national and international security, analyze food and water security, discuss mitigation and adaption efforts, articulate strategies to address climate change, and finally, review and discuss a way forward and recommendations.

In early 2023, the NESA Center requested a “call for papers” from NESA Center alumni and received more than 100 abstracts from scholars from all over the world. Twenty-one were chosen and asked to present their findings at the upcoming seminar.

A classroom with two people at the front table and one person at the podium.
Dr. Gawdat Bahgat (left) and Dr. Wayne Clark (right) at the front speaker table during Maria Syed’s presentation.


Welcome remarks were made by Course Director Dr. Gawdat Bahgat, Acting Director COL David Lamm, USA (Ret.), and Academic Dean Dr. Roger Kangas. There were 11 sessions, which started with presentations and group discussions, with the final session opening up the discussion for “The Way Forward and Recommendations.” The presentations highlighted the submitted papers covering environmental security case studies from each country. Participants were from the following countries: Afghanistan, Armenia, Austria, Egypt, India, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Morocco, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Türkiye, and Yemen. Professors Dr. Gawdat Bahgat and Dr. Wayne Clark moderated the sessions. The seminar’s main takeaways included:

  • Climate Justice: Several participants underscored rich countries’ large share of pollution and how these developed countries are “obligated” to compensate less developed countries for the “loss and damage.”
  • Approaches:
  • The approach to climate change in developed countries is mostly “bottom-up,” while that of less developed countries is “top-down.”
  • Comprehensive multi-domain integrated approaches are essential for defeating current and future climate change impacts; require active participation, resourcing, and will from governments (policy to resources), society (will, adherence, volunteerism, etc.), educators (youth, college, and adult for continual knowledge and skill development), and public communicators (awareness campaigns).
  • Approaches cannot separate hard security (i.e., war, violence, terrorism) from soft security (water and food security and climate change).
  • There is no “national” solution to global warming, it has to be “regional” and “global.”
  • Green Energy and Jobs: Green energy does not come at the expense of employment, but rather, the evidence shows that green energy actually creates jobs.
  • Domestic Instability and Regional Conflicts: Global warming and government mismanagement directly contribute to critical water (drinking and irrigation) and food scarcity to likely trigger mass emigration which further incites domestic instability and regional conflicts.
  • Global South vs. Global North: The emerging terminology of “global south vs. global north” is not accurate; China is the world’s largest polluter.


The debate on the triggers of climate change and related impacts led to how warfare harms humanity and the environment at a great cost. Diverse and common viewpoints between participants sprung an ad hoc professional discussion (held under Chatham House rules) on the Israel-Hamas conflict, its related impacts on the environment and regional stability, and varied mitigation strategies. Overall, the seminar effectively addressed its aim for a professional academic exchange of global environmental topics that link the U.S., ally, and partner-nation mutual security interests.


The views presented in this article are those of the speaker or author and do not necessarily represent the views of DoD or its components.