Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 02/2010

Underdevelopment, Resource Scarcity, and Environmental Degradation

December 2009

International Peace Institute


Underdevelopment, resource scarcity, and environmental degradation are cardinal, even existential, threats to human security. These challenges not only threaten human life and well-being, but also impact the global geopolitical and economic landscape. Chronic underdevelopment condemns more than 1 billion people to lives of poverty, illness, and poor political and economic prospects. Long-term goals of economic and human development are undermined by scarce, unreliable, or unaffordable supplies of vital resources such as food, water, and energy. Climate change threatens to exacerbate the effects of environmental degradation, putting land and livelihoods at grave risk.