Dear Subscriber

This will be our last post on the Environmental Security blog.

Changes to the Environmental Security unit in the Centre of Criminology are due to take place and our programmes, as a result, will also be changing.

We trust that you have found this a valuable resource and we thank you for your support.

The Environmental Security Team

New Book: ‘Sustainable Stellenbosch: Opening Dialogues edited by Mark Swilling, Ben Sebitosi, Ruenda Loots’

Description: Stellenbosch faces the same challenges that most South African urban areas face: rapid urbanisation, sluggish economic growth, growing inequalities, unsustainable use of natural resources, deteriorating biodiversity, social problems, unhealthy living, insecure supplies of healthy food, degrading soils, infrastructure backlogs and inadequate urban planning. Continue reading

Table of Contents Alert: Global Environmental Change 22 (3)

See below for some of the articles that was published in the latest Special Issue: Global transformations, social metabolism and the dynamics of socio-environmental conflicts in Global Environmental Change 22 (3):

Hegemonic transitions and global shifts in social metabolism: Implications for resource-rich countries. Introduction to the special section
Roldan Muradian, Mariana Walter, Joan Martinez-Alier
Abstract: This introductory paper to the special section of Global Environmental Change entitled “Global transformations, social metabolism and the dynamics of socio-environmental conflicts” argues that the emergence of new global economic centers is inducing a major expansion in the global social metabolism—the flows of energy and materials into the world economy —, a transformation in the systems for the extraction and provision of natural resources, as well as setting the conditions for socio-environmental conflicts at the commodity frontiers, particularly in areas with a dense human occupation of the territory. We point out that we are currently experiencing global transformations that constitute the beginning of a new historical phase of modern capitalism. The aim of the paper is to draw an overall picture of such transformations, to discuss some of their implications for resource-rich countries, particularly in Latin America and Africa, and by doing so to provide an analytical framework that allow us to make explicit the linkages between the different papers that compose the special section.

Adaptive lives. Navigating the global food crisis in a changing climate
Jonas Østergaard Nielsen, Henrik Vigh
Abstract: Human adaptation to climate change is gaining increasing academic as well as political attention. Understanding how and what people around the world adapt to is, however, difficult. Climate change is often, if not always, only one of a multiplicity of exposures perforating local communities. In Biidi 2, a small Sahelian village in northern Burkina Faso, climate variability have had a great influence on inhabitants’ lives since the major droughts of the early 1970s and 1980s. Tracing the intertwinement of drought, diminishing agricultural production and the need to buy food, this article explores how villagers attempt to attract development projects and negotiate with political parties in order to negate the impact of the global food crisis on their livelihoods. In doing so the article attempts to show how adaptation to climate variability is related to multiple, intersecting processes, and in this specific case is a matter of navigating changing socioeconomic factors. Using recent theory from social anthropology, adaptation is explored as a matter of social navigation. It is suggested that this theoretical approach might help nuance and elucidate how, and to what, local people around the world adapt.

Deep uncertainty in long-term hurricane risk: Scenario generation and implications for future climate experiments
Nicola Ranger, Falk Niehörster
Abstract: Current projections of long-term trends in Atlantic hurricane activity due to climate change are deeply uncertain, both in magnitude and sign. This creates challenges for adaptation planning in exposed coastal communities. We present a framework to support the interpretation of current long-term tropical cyclone projections, which accommodates the nature of the uncertainty and aims to facilitate robust decision making using the information that is available today. The framework is populated with projections taken from the recent literature to develop a set of scenarios of long-term hurricane hazard. Hazard scenarios are then used to generate risk scenarios for Florida using a coupled climate–catastrophe modeling approach. The scenarios represent a broad range of plausible futures; from wind-related hurricane losses in Florida halving by the end of the century to more than a four-fold increase due to climate change alone. We suggest that it is not possible, based on current evidence, to meaningfully quantify the relative confidence of each scenario. The analyses also suggest that natural variability is likely to be the dominant driver of the level and volatility of wind-related risk over the coming decade; however, under the highest scenario, the superposition of this natural variability and anthropogenic climate change could mean notably increased levels of risk within the decade. Finally, we present a series of analyses to better understand the relative adequacy of the different models that underpin the scenarios and draw conclusions for the design of future climate science and modeling experiments to be most informative for adaptation.

Continue reading

New Article: ‘Valuing green infrastructure in an urban environment under pressure — The Johannesburg case’

Abstract: This article considers the importance of robust planning for green infrastructure in fast changing Southern African cities. A key theme is the extent to which ecosystem services are valued publicly, and the opportunity costs of not investing in the green infrastructure. We explore green infrastructure through pairing insights of social–ecological resilience with perspectives on urban infrastructure transitions. By converging these views, we show how green infrastructure can be viewed as an innovative response to challenged urban environments.

Through a Johannesburg case study, a number of ecosystem services constitute sources of resilience for an otherwise constrained city. While this is positive and to be valorised, many South African cities are in the midst of service delivery protests, so that resilient ecosystems, and the citizen networks that sustain these, are largely overlooked in planning processes.

This article offers three key conclusions. First, a proper understanding of green infrastructure requires blending insights from social–ecological system thinking and infrastructure transition scholarship. Second, there is a paucity of knowledge around ecosystem services in Johannesburg, and that the planning to facilitate ecosystem service valuation is largely inadequate. Third, addressing this requires ecosystem valuations relevant to the unique conditions in developing world cities such as Johannesburg.

 Full Citation: Schäffler, A. and Swilling, M. (2012). Valuing green infrastructure in an urban environment under pressure – The Johannesburg case. Ecological Economics, doi:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2012.05.008 (Available for download with subscription:

Changing Lives Seminar: Recycling

We are delighted to invite you to our next Changing Lives Seminar:

Changing Lives Seminar: Recycling 

Date: 17 November 2011

Time: 17h30 for 18h00

Venue: Lecture Theatre 2, Level 2, Kramer Law Building, Middle Campus, UCT

Speakers: Alison Davison (Waste Minimisation Unit, City of Cape Town), John McKerry (Solid Waste Network), Veronica Smith and Andrew McNaught (TrashBack) 

Chair: Suzall Timm (Centre of Criminology)

RSVP to:

REMINDER – Changing Lives Seminar Series: Food Security

The Centre of Criminology in collaboration with Project 90 by 2030 is hosting the Changing Lives Seminar Series. For more details see below:

Changing Lives Seminar: FOOD SECURITY 

Speakers: Jane Battersby-Lennard (Environmental and Geographical Sciences, UCT), Anri Landman (Siyakhana)

Chair: Leonie Joubert (Centre of Criminology, UCT) 

Date: Thursday, 25 August 2011

Time: 17:30 for 18:00 

Venue: Lecture Theatre 3, Level 2, Kramer Law Building, Middle Campus, University of Cape Town 


Continue reading

Changing Lives Seminar: Food Security




The Centre of Criminology in collaboration with Project 90 by 2030 is hosting the Changing Lives Seminar Series. See below for more details:

Changing Lives Seminar: Food Security 

Date: Thursday 25 August 2011

Time: 17h30 for 18h00

Venue: Lecture Theatre 3, Level 2, Kramer Law Building, Middle Campus, UCT


Continue reading


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