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University of Melbourne (2012)

Red hot hydropolitics : human and state security implications of water scarcity in Chile

Zambrano Ramírez, José Pablo

Titre : Red hot hydropolitics : human and state security implications of water scarcity in Chile

Auteur : Zambrano Ramírez, José Pablo

Université de soutenance : University of Melbourne

Grade : Masters Research thesis (2012)

The relationship between environment and security is generally approached from either a state security framework, in so far environmental problems are a source of intra-state or inter-state violent conflict, or from a human security perspective, focusing on the impacts of these problems on people’s livelihoods. To date, that I am aware, there is no research that considers the effects of an environmental problem on these two dimensions of security simultaneously. This thesis bridges this gap by studying the security implications of water scarcity in Chile. It examines the two main drivers of water scarcity, droughts and socioeconomic development, to determine the exposure and vulnerability of Chile to this environmental problem. Based on the work of the Copenhagen School, it develops a framework that disaggregates and locates the impacts of droughts in analytical levels and security sectors. Additionally, it develops a typology of environment related problems as security issues, according to the sectors and analytical levels affected. Through the application of this framework and typology this research determines that in Chile water scarcity is a source of human insecurity, because it alters the livelihoods and the access to livelihood resources for a significant part of the population. It is also a source of strategic insecurity, as it jeopardizes the generation of energy, affecting the overall capabilities of the country, and thereby limiting the policy options of the authorities and the potential to give material responses to any given crisis. Finally, water scarcity is a source of strategic vulnerability, since a neighboring country uses the subsequent energy insecurity as leverage in a long-lasting bilateral territorial dispute. This thesis uses the Regional Security Complex and the Hydropolitical Security Complex theories to assess the effects of water scarcity in the sub-system level. This research makes two relevant contributions to the security debate. First, an analytical framework that facilitates studying the security implications of droughts in any given nation-state. Second, it establishes a nexus between human and State security : if a non-traditional security problem, such as water scarcity, can become a source of State insecurity, then non-traditional security measures, originally aimed at improving human security, can be a source of State security. Although the context of this security analysis is Chile, a nation-state in which water is a relatively scarce resource and whose regional security complex is determined by patterns of enmity, two conditions that are not shared by every nation-State, the findings of this research are relevant nonetheless for the security debate, since it establishes that human and State security are not necessarily competing articulations, but two narratives with common fields in which they can strengthen each other.

Mots Clés : water security ; environmental security ; energy security ; regional security complex ; Latin America ; Chile


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