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SEI working paper

Integrating sustainable development and security: An analytical approach with examples from the Middle East and North Africa, the Arctic and Central Asia

This paper examines the intersection of sustainable development and security, in the context of natural resources constraints, climate change and environmental degradation, and proposes a common analytical approach based on exploratory scenarios.

Citation

Granit, J., M. Eriksson, H. Carlsen, C. Andersson, M. Carson, K. Hallding, O. Johnson, K. Rosner, N. Weitz, B. Liljedahl, M. Mobjörk, M. Tulldahl and A. Waleij (2015). Integrating sustainable development and security: An analytical approach with examples from the Middle East and North Africa, the Arctic and Central Asia. SEI Working Paper No. 2015-14.

Ecological, financial and political systems are under increasing pressure from human activities, facing growing uncertainties that challenge widely held views on sustainable development. At the same time, experts in conventional (hard) security are confronting a new set of threats that go beyond traditional interstate armed conflict, related to natural resources constraints, climate change and environmental degradation.

It is important to understand how these trends affect security, and how they may interact with one another. A common analytical approach in both the sustainable development and security research communities is to use scenarios to explore possible futures and identify options. However, while the sustainable development community tends to look at relatively long time horizons and presume fairly stable geopolitical conditions, the security research community typically uses shorter time horizons and views political-economic factors as dynamic.

This paper presents an integrated analytical approach for improving development outcomes through an inclusive strategic scenario-driven approach. This seems particularly relevant in regions where development and/or security challenges are mounting, in post-conflict regions, and in any other region where conditions warrant a more innovative approach for exploring robust and sustainable futures.

The approach includes three steps: understanding the broader socio-economic and environmental context; developing scenarios through a participatory process; and appraising options for robust governance and development investments. Such an approach can help foster a more dynamic and broader view of sustainable development, informed by insights from the security realm.

Download the paper (PDF, 1.7MB)

SEI authors

Marcus Carson
Marcus Carson

Senior Research Fellow

SEI Headquarters

Nina Weitz
Nina Weitz

Team Leader: Global Goals and Systems; Senior Research Fellow

SEI Headquarters

Henrik Carlsen
Henrik Carlsen

Senior Research Fellow

SEI Headquarters

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