Linking climate change and security in Mexico: explorations into an attempted securitisation in the Global South


Besides being discussed as an environmental or economic issue, climate change has increasingly been evoked as a security problem as well. However, research on the securitisation of climate change focuses mostly on the global level and on countries and actors in the Global North. Thus, there is a growing sentiment in the field of Critical Security Studies that there is a need to include countries from the Global South into the analysis as they are often the target of climate security constructions. Using a revised securitisation framework that distinguishes between different climate security discourses, this paper takes a closer look at the attempted securitisation of climate change in Mexico. The analysis shows that several foreign actors have linked climate change to human security and risk conceptions. Yet, because of the prevalence of other security issues, a diplomatic misunderstanding and a successful politicisation of climate change as environmental issue, its impact on Mexican policy has remained limited. By focusing on a defined national context in the Global South, the paper shows the specific difficulties that securitisations encounter in such a context and the role that different discourses and actors play in their relationship to the host country’s authorities.

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  1. 1.

    The Clean Development Mechanism is part of the Kyoto Protocol’s Flexible Mechanisms and is supposed to facilitate mitigation projects in developing countries financed by industrialised countries that in turn get Certified Emission Reduction Units that can be used in emission trading schemes.

  2. 2.

    Centro de Colaboracion Civica (CCC), Centro Mario Molina (CMM), Centro Mexicano de Derecho Ambiental (CEMDA), Comision de Estudios del Sector Privada para el Desarollo Sustentable (CESPEDES).

  3. 3.

    Further funding came from the German Friedrich Ebert Foundation, Fundacion Hewlett, UNDP, Congreso de la Union, CEMDA, CESPEDES, and CMM. Particularly the funding of the British Embassy is interesting because the British conducted a climate security project of their own, which will be explained shortly.

  4. 4.

    Initiative for Peacebuilding — Early Warning Analysis to Action (IfP-EW) (

  5. 5.

    Including CEPAL, GLOBE, SEMARNAT, CONAGUA, INE, INM, CISEN, CEMDA, Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, OXFAM, IMCO and Greenpeace (Feakin and Depledge 2010: title page 2; Deheza and Mora 2013: vii).

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    Fundación para el Ecodesarrollo y la Conservación (FUNDAECO), Comisión Centroamericana de Ambiente y Desarrollo (CCAD), and the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) (Feakin and Depledge 2010: title page 1).

  7. 7.

    Instituto Nacional de Ecología y Cambio Climático (INECC), Secretaría de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (SEMARNAT), Centro de Investigación y Seguridad Nacional (CISEN), Comisión Nacional del Agua (CONAGUA) (Deheza and Mora 2013: v).


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This paper is part of a broader project (ClimaSec) at the University of Tübingen that analyses the securitisation of climate change in different countries. I am grateful to Thomas Diez, Zehra Wellmann and three anonymous reviewers for comments on the paper. I also thank research assistants Thea Güttler, Benno Keppner, Hanna Spanhel and Josefa Velten for their help in researching data and editing the manuscript. Research for this article has been funded by the German Science Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft), Grant No. DI 1688/2-1.

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von Lucke, F. Linking climate change and security in Mexico: explorations into an attempted securitisation in the Global South. J Int Relat Dev 21, 415–441 (2018).

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  • climate change
  • development
  • environment
  • Mexico
  • securitisation
  • security