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Conflict, Development, and the Environment in Asia

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Abstract

In spite of dramatic progress in economic development and governance in Asia, major challenges to human security endure. In some cases, these have been exacerbated by national security and development policymaking. Among the most serious challenges are conflict, poverty, environmental degradation, and “natural” or “nature-induced” disasters. Each of these threatens human security. Through interaction with each other, however, they can also serve as insecurity multipliers. This chapter will focus on the intersections of these variables, using case material from several Asian countries. The first part of the chapter will consider conflict as a direct threat to human security, as a poverty multiplier, as a contaminator of the environment, and as a stimulus for state security policy prioritization that directly impacts upon the human security of the most vulnerable, as well as indirectly through resource allocation. Case material for this section will be drawn from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Myanmar, and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR). The second part of the chapter will examine how insecurity at a state level can lead to a focus on national security and development models, which not only leads to environmental degradation but can also increase disaster vulnerability. It will further evaluate how mega-development practices can pose a direct threat to the most vulnerable, as well as indirectly through impact on the environment. The major case studies here will be Myanmar leading up to the devastating impact of Cyclone Nargis in 2008 and hydroelectric dams in Lao PDR and Malaysia.

Keywords

  • Conflict
  • Development
  • Environment
  • Security
  • Vulnerability

For more detailed analysis of some of the issues and case studies addressed in this chapter, see Brendan Howe, The Protection and Promotion of Human Security in East Asia (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan 2013). The author gratefully acknowledges research support provided by Heeseo Lee of the Graduate School of International Studies, Ewha Womans University.

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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-981-15-8852-5_10
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Fig. 10.1

(Source Tun Lwin, former director general of the Meteorology and Hydrology Department of Myanmar, now chairman and CEO of Myanmar Climate Change Watch. Interviewed by author in Yangon, January 22, 2016. Reproduced here by kind permission)

Notes

  1. 1.

    Including inter alia: Sovacool BK, Bulan LC (2011a) Meeting targets, missing people: the energy security implications of the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE), Contemporary Southeast Asia: A Journal of International and Strategic Affairs 33(1): 56–82; Sovacool BK, Bulan LC (2011b) Behind an ambitious megaproject in Asia: The history and implications of the Bakun hydroelectric dam in Borneo, Energy Policy 39: 4842–4859; Sovacool BK, Bulan LC (2012) Energy security and hydropower development in Malaysia: The drivers and challenges facing the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE). Renewable Energy 40: 113–129.

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Correspondence to Brendan Howe .

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Howe, B. (2021). Conflict, Development, and the Environment in Asia. In: Pulhin, J.M., Inoue, M., Shaw, R. (eds) Climate Change, Disaster Risks, and Human Security. Disaster Risk Reduction. Springer, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-8852-5_10

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