LAWRENCE – Environmental security is a concern being defined even as situations around the world unfold. The challenge is to identify what is to be secured and how to work toward that goal collaboratively.
To that end, the University of Kansas is hosting the first Environmental Security Conference: Academic and Military Perspectives, which will run April 23-24 on its Lawrence campus. Featured speakers include representatives from the Department of Defense’s Combatant Commands, international environmental security organizations, and prominent environmental security researchers and scholars. Scholars and military experts will also present their research on a range of topics including water, land use, conflict, policy, mapping and other technologies related to identifying and addressing specific environmental security issues. The aim of this event is to bring together academic and military communities to create a dialogue of common understanding and find ways to bring applied KU research to the commander on the battlefield.
One objective of this inaugural conference is to critically examine how combatant commands, international security organizations and scholars view consequences of climate change related to national security. Environmental security managers from U.S. Central Command, Southern Command, Africa Command and NATO will discuss how climate change has already increased conflict risks in their regions and how climate change acts as a stress multiplier to existing tensions. The panel will also address the roles that the military can play in the debate on climate change mitigation and national security implications. A panel composed of international experts will discuss how climate change will alter much of the focus of international security policy.
Scheduled speakers include Christian Burgsmueller, head of Transport, Energy, Environment and Nuclear Affairs Section at the Delegation of the European Union; Maj. Gen. Muniruzzaman, president of the Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies; Air Marshal A.K. Singh, chairman of the Military Advisory Council, Institute of Environmental Security; and Maj. Gen. Joseph Singh, chairman of the Steering Committee for the EU-sponsored Guiana Shield Initiative from 2007 to 2010.
“This conference goes beyond building scholarly communities and naturally complements the university’s first strategic initiative: Sustaining the World, Powering the Planet,” notes Shannon O’Lear, KU associate professor of geography and environmental studies. “We want to hear from military experts what their experiences are on the ground and how academics might develop research projects to address real needs and policy outcomes, and we want to hear from academics and policy experts about ways we can expand an appreciation of and response to complex human-environment relationships”.
W. Christopher King, dean of academics for Command and General Staff College at nearby Fort Leavenworth, was instrumental in attracting such a renowned panel of international retired officers. “I have the pleasure of serving on the Military Advisory Panel for the Institute of Environmental Security in The Hague with these outstanding officers who are committed to stressing their concerns about the security implications of climate change and to promoting a positive role of the military worldwide to help address the challenge of climate change. They were very enthusiastic about the opportunity to come to the University of Kansas for this important conference.”
The conference co-chairpersons are O’Lear and Mike Denning. Denning, a retired Marine officer, is the director of the Office of Professional Military Graduate Education. OPMGE serves as the liaison between the university and DoD for developing academic programs and research opportunities.
Student attendance at this conference is free. More information about this conference is available by contacting KU Continuing Education program manager Barbara Solberg by email, visiting the conference website or calling KU Continuing Education at 785-864-5823 (toll-free 877-404-5823).
The conference was made possible by a grant from the Army’s Research Office, U.S. Army Research Laboratory and support from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff Foundation.