Environment, Natural Resource, and Forced Migration
Since prehistoric times, humans have been impacting the environment. Whether it’s hunting for natural resources of food and water, shelter, exploring new territories, exploiting, displacing, and replacing other life forms (humans, animals, and plants). Contemporaneous advancement has seen humans creating boundaries and destroying nature through urbanization and industrialization.
The growth and expansion of the human population and the demand for essential lifesaving sustenance, modern amenities, and other human activities have placed an additional burden on the environment—a shift in temperature and weather patterns. Climate change has generated extreme temperatures, drought, fires, rising sea levels, and floods leading to habitat destruction. In some cases, complete extinction, pollution, deforestation, and displacement have resulted in a compromised and shrunken ecosystem.
The events of land degradation and drought produced by the change in climate, increased industrialization, the exploitation of humans by humans, depleting natural resources, and violent conflicts all impact infrastructure and livelihood, both directly and indirectly. When these changes happen, there is an increase in the movement and or displacement of the human population. Countries and communities continued grievance and conflict over resources, without peaceful resolution, also have a devastating effect on the people and the movement of people.
Forced migration and displacement are environmental, social, and political problems, whether the migration results from extreme weather conditions, people fleeing armed conflicts, suffering from the loss of livelihood, or urbanization.
Naturally, unplanned massive migrations don’t have the resources, proper infrastructure planning, the management, strategies, or a clear guideline to mitigate the far-reaching effect of further environmental damage. There may also be weak, divisive community political systems and a policy breakdown to manage immediate or sudden changes.
Caring for the community and the environment is of equal importance. As peace fellows, we are now aware of the interconnectedness of the environment, natural resources, and forced migration. We are also aware that all life forms are essential and need to be sustained for the continuity and well-being of planet earth.
We cannot deny knowledge of the complexity and fragility of the social, political, or environmental influences and processes that shape each community. However, we now have the tools and opportunity to reshape decision-making through our new understanding of environmental security and sustaining peace. We can now harmonize the relationship with the local community and government to build resilience, resulting from and or preventing the impact of armed conflict and or abuse of the natural environment and the deliberating challenges posed to the community. We have the opportunity to improve the well-being of humankind on the whole.
Oberlene Smith-Whyte – Jamaica
Rotary Peace Fellow – Class 32