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Securitization of climate change in Bangladesh : the repercussions of rising sea-levels for human security Monzur, Rumana


Scholars tend to frame environmental problems and climate change as either a separate issue from national security or as loosely embedded in an overarching framework of human security. Since Barry Buzan’s seminal 1991 work, People, States and Fear, which argues that the traditional concept of security is too narrowly defined and is out of touch with reality, scholarship on human security has proliferated. Within the human security literature, environmental issues have received less attention due to their very broad and complex nature, which requires an integrated, horizontal response on the part of both state and non-state actors. This MA thesis seeks to contribute to the small, albeit growing, study of climate change as part of the broader scholarship on human security. Through the case studies of the largest mangrove forest and two major islands in Bangladesh, I argue that Bangladesh’s attempt to securitize climate change has failed on two levels. First, the state has been unable to convince the public at large that rising sea-levels is a long-term threat to national security. Second, the state has failed to incorporate into the securitization process, the communities most vulnerable to sea-level rise. There are at least two important implications of this failure to securitize climate change: it is contributing to shortcomings in short- and long-term adaptation and mitigation strategies, and it is creating new threats to human security. As a result, only minor changes are occurring on the ground to address with impacts of climate change on Bangladeshi’s most vulnerable populations. The inundation of the Sundarbans’s mangrove forest and Sandeep and Kutubdia islands, vividly illustrates the way in which climate change is adversely affecting both the livelihood and security of the people as well as the state of Bangladesh. To respond more effectively to the escalating crisis of climate change, the Bangladeshi government needs to do more to securitize climate change and raise it to the level of a national security threat. By doing so, the state would have a better chance of not only preventing future loss of livelihood, but also manage future security threats brought on by climate change.

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