Securitising the Environment?: Analysing the Limitations of Securitisation

Author name: Vipanchika Sahasri Bhagyanagar 

Editors: Riya Singh Rathore, Soumya Singhal, Avishi Gupta


In the Brundtland Commission & Brundtland (1987) report, natural disasters were codified as a threat to the populations. It is inferred that changes in the environment will lead to a scarcity of resources, conflict, and trigger refugee crises. Thus, with great urgency, the developed countries have started discussing environment-related issues in the security council. Securitisation of the environment was projected as the sole policy preference to deal with climate change. Ever since, India and others in the Global South have been demanding delinking the subjects of environment and climate change from international peace and security. They suggest that securitising will not give fruitful results in calling out the real perpetrators and policy implementation. 

In the light of this continuing debate between the Global North and the Global South, this paper seeks to answer the following questions: What is securitisation and what does it mean in the context of the environment? Will climate change overburden Europe with the conflict and refugee crisis associated with it? And if yes, why is the Global South apprehensive of the securitising? What are the demerits of securitisation of the environment and climate change? Finally and most importantly, what implications does securitisation have on the environment policy implementation?

Keywords: Securitisation, securitising, Environment and Climate Change, Limits, India, Conflict and Refugee crisis.


Voting against the UNSC draft on 13 December 2021, Ambassador T S Tirumurti said, 

“India is second to none when it comes to climate action and climate justice. But the security council is not the place to discuss either issue. In fact, the attempt to do so appears to be motivated and driven by a desire to evade responsibility ….” (India at UN, 2021)

A natural question arises around India voting against the UNSC draft that sought to codify climate change as a security challenge (Haidar, 2021). A step that could be viewed as one against climate action. Russia vetoed against the resolution on the same day and China abstained from voting. Does this voting pattern suggest a political tussle among countries or does this vote mean a big no to the common determinant in many climate change and environment meetings – ‘securitisation’? Looking at the prior mentioned speech of Indian representatives at the UN alludes that it is the securitisation of the environment that India has been vehemently opposing. 

About the Author

Untitled design

Vipanchika Sahasri Bhagyanagar is currently doing her master’s in Political Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University. Her academic interests lie in the intersection of state, security and punishment. Her interest in imagining alternative possibilities actuated her to organise a dialogue series aired on YouTube with renowned global scholars on the theme of Non-Violence and Terrorism in the 21st Century.