This article has been initially published in the Revista Seguridad y Poder Terrestre
Vol. 2 N.° 1 (2023): Enero – Marzo
Considering what John Kingdon calls a “window of opportunity,” this article analyzes the participation of the Peruvian Armed Forces, particularly the Army, in the development and protection of the Amazon and the environment in order to strengthen State capacity for the benefit of the most vulnerable. In this sense, the State’s commitment to emergency prevention, the strengthening of social peace and development provides a solid basis for addressing -institutionally- climate impacts and exploiting synergies. Only through a transversal articulation of climate and environmental protection, safety and national efficiency strategies will a significant impact be obtained.
Keywords: Window of Opportunity, Security, Defense, Climate Change, Amazon Protection Brigade, Multisectoral.
Introduction: Key Concepts on Climate Change
Climate change manifests itself through the increase in the global average temperature, the variation in the precipitation model, the increase in the level of the oceans and the decrease in the cryosphere, among other aspects. Climate change is also driven by greenhouse gases (GHGs), mainly those generated by the ignition of fossil fuels. This climate transformation generates significant economic, social and environmental effects. Consequently, the impacts of climate change are present in all human activities, particularly affecting the most vulnerable. Unfortunately, despite efforts, climate change adaptation and mitigation actions are negligible. However, country leaders are expected to become aware of the danger and take immediate action.
The Glasgow Climate Agreement has defined the 2020s as the decisive decade to curb climate change and limit the increase in global heat to 1. 5 ºC. However, hopes are very remote due to the lack of interest in the implementation of mitigation and adaptation strategies. Despite this, the Glasgow Agreement has generated positive political outcomes, such as the Memorandum on Methane and the leaders’ declaration on land use and forests, among others. These decisions are due to a fundamental change of perspective that is now accepted, but not yet implemented. Therefore, the protection of climate and natural systems should be at the heart of government policies and actions.
For its part, the Paris Agreement, for all its flaws, provided an original and, potentially, effective mechanism of procedural obligations, which leaves room for substantive national elections, but which, once the elections are made, gives them a certain degree of obligation. The global environmental challenge of climate change requires specific policies to reduce carbon emissions. In that sense, it is the main world leaders and politicians who must get involved to reduce the effects of climate change. The challenge facing it – marginally – industrial, economic and social environmental policies.
The climate crisis will likely strip millions of people of their survival resources. Many are already trying to adapt to this situation through migration and the adoption of new livelihoods. Most climate migrants find refuge in their own countries, but a large percentage of them migrate abroad. From the 22nd century onwards, the global system may not withstand rapid economic and population growth. In this regard, a team of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology conducted a study on the implications of continued global growth. The scientists have identified the following five basic factors that determine and, in their interactions, limit growth on this planet: population growth, agricultural production, the use of non-renewable resources, industrial production and pollution management.
Undoubtedly, human beings can live indefinitely on earth if they impose limits on themselves and their production of material goods, achieving a state of global equilibrium. However, what if societies continue at a similar pace to today? Will the Earth cross irreversible tipping points for future generations? Will inequality create more social instabilities? Will the Earth stabilize? Can everyone be lifted out of poverty and 10 billion people be fed a healthy diet? Will societies cooperate more to solve global challenges? Therefore, in order to ensure the survival of the human being, one must understand the current situation of nature and the crisis it faces.
Current security policies are formulated under a comprehensive approach, generating synergy between the economic, social, political, environmental and military dimensions. Therefore, in the generation of conflicts and in the design of security strategies to avoid them, climate change is a key factor for various actors in different scenarios. At the global level, some experts have been pointing out that the armed forces of all countries should be involved in mitigation and adaptation activities in order to achieve the slowdown of the global average temperature. In this sense, it is expected that at the next meeting of COP 28 (2023) world leaders will present initiatives to involve the armed forces in these tasks, considering their capabilities and that “the participation [of the armed forces] is allowed. in support for development and in the event of emergency situations, in accordance with the provisions of its Constitution.”
In this regard, the former Secretary of State of the United States, Henry Kissinger, during his speech at the United Nations, said that “although the world has shrunk, nations have not come closer.” Therefore, although the problems tend to be global, the solutions remain predominantly national, just as what happened during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Security – National Efficiency and its Correlation with Climate Change
To achieve security and peace, a partnership or pact that is stronger than a simple agreement of mutual support must be sought. A pact in which the people submit their wills and grant all their strength to a single common and sovereign power: the State. In this context, it can be said that security is a public good that the State provides as a consequence of an existing social contract. Therefore, to ensure their own survival, states seek to accumulate power, storing resources in the face of the danger of scarcity. Unfortunately, this situation generates inequality and conflict. In recent centuries, the benchmark for security has been the State. However, in the twilight of the twentieth century, the concept began to reach a multidimensional character:
National security becomes the condition attained by the State, guaranteeing sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, the constitutional rule of law, social peace and national interests; as well as the protection of the human person and human rights, through actions of a diverse nature and multidimensional nature, which make it possible to face threats and concerns, with the aim of creating conditions conducive to the general well-being.
Environmental threats are those that initiate environmental degradation and the collapse of natural resources, which increase interstate conflicts or destabilization in territories where there is a strategic interest in existing natural resources. Although globalization has innovated all spheres of human work, it has also influenced the vision that every State has in relation to traditional threats or emerging threats, imposing transformations or regulations that contribute to guarantee the security that every State must have. New threats are problems that require multidimensional responses by different actors, state or international, according to the legal principles that govern every State.
The challenge of the State and the National Security and Defense System is to guarantee the Security of the Nation in order to achieve the well-being of society, considering the objectives of sustainable development. Therefore, security and defense are essential for sustainable development and the common welfare, since there is no well-being without security and no security without well-being. National Security is influenced by several factors and variables that, inadequately managed, generate political and social problems, which will demand resources and actions to face them. In this context, climate change has become a real threat to the security and survival of the planet and can become a “threat multiplier” that challenges the peace, security, stability and prosperity of countries. Consequently, it is essential that this issue be incorporated as a priority in the national agenda.
On the one hand, higher temperatures will create environments with severe conditions in military operations due to the geographical configurations of each country, affecting both the operability and durability of military equipment, as well as the health of the troops. The increase in natural disasters has forced the authorities to employ the armed forces in subsidiary missions to support the population such as rescue and relief. On the other hand, climate change will cause internal conflicts due to the rapid increase in the cost of food, undermining social cohesion and generating conflicts between countries over access to natural resources.
Climate change impacts not only national security, but also human security. In this sense, it is essential to sensitize the political class to adopt urgent measures aimed at slowing down global warming, before it is too late. Climate variation has always existed; Today, however, the world is facing unprecedented climate change. Scientific society agrees that climatic variations are induced -in some cases- by man, exposing humanity to catastrophes, sometimes misnamed “natural.”
Climate impacts are not only relevant for security and defense, but also for all fields of human activity. In this scenario, the orientation shifts from classic state security to human security, environmental protection and economic sustainability. This perspective highlights the protection of the most vulnerable groups in particularly affected areas. In these areas, the forces, particularly the armies, have sufficient preparation, organization, logistical capacity and knowledge of the territory to deploy in the different geographical areas.
The Safety of the Planet
The global objective is to put a limit on the evolution of climate change through the reduction of emissions, within a predictable scenario. Because of the risks posed by global warming and the dangers it brings at the tipping points of the Earth system, the pre-eminence of these issues is critical to human security. Therefore, the environmental impacts and security of the planet constitute sufficient arguments to seek the articulation of the objectives of climate change policy and its strategies with Security and Defense. However, it is imperative to clarify some conceptual problems as safety and environmental impacts cannot be addressed separately.
For example, limiting the use of fossil fuels by the armed forces is of particular interest to security as it reduces costs in the medium and long term. The use of renewable energy would also reduce dependence on existing fragile energy infrastructures, mainly in regions where there are natural difficulties due to the effects of climate change. If the environment is not protected, no economy could survive for long. As climate conflicts unfold and ecosystems begin to collapse, actions to protect the most vulnerable will fail. Any methodology used for conflict management and negotiation will not be able to alleviate the tensions presented, considering that natural resources are declining at a dizzying pace. Undoubtedly, the planetary crisis threatens the basis of human development, including the sovereignty and security of each State.
In that sense, every starting point to consider for national security is the protection of the security of the planet and the commons. The reduction of global emissions should be considered as of interest for security and geopolitics. Therefore, each nation’s budget must be varied in order to consider the costs of climate impacts or human rights violations.
The emerging climate threat is closely related to the challenges of each State, such as the disappearance of biodiversity and food insecurity. The State’s commitment to emergency prevention, the strengthening of social peace and development provides the strength to promote synergies and face -institutionally- climate impacts. Only through a transversal articulation of climate and environmental protection, security and national defense strategies will a long-term impact be obtained. In this context, the most damaging consequence of climate change has to do with the fact that it destabilizes every nation, especially those with weak democracies and plagued by corruption. These countries risk being caught in a disastrous cycle linking climate change to failed state and underdevelopment.
Climate Change: An Intrinsic Window of Opportunity for the Peruvian Army?
For the State, readability is very important to facilitate the implementation of social order, as it allows it to effectively control private behavior and enforce rules and regulations. In this sense, “readability” refers to the breadth and depth of the State’s knowledge of its citizens and their activities. At a basic level, readability requires the state to select information about the society it purports to govern. However, the ability of the State to exercise these functions is compromised if social practices are illegible to central government officials.
States with weak institutions are more likely to face various misfortunes. Therefore, resources and instruments must be optimized to face the challenges that disturb the population, such as “environmental terrorism.” Undoubtedly, or not of these instruments are the forces to be forced, since they possess experience, logistics, discipline and knowledge of the national geography. These capabilities make it possible to identify a “window of opportunity” in order to provide public value and improve the quality of life of the most vulnerable populations. In this regard, John Kingdon points out that a “window of opportunity” will remain open for a certain time, but that if It is not used you will have to wait for it to look like another window in a different scenario.
In the case of Peru, the Army plays a very important role in the sustainable development of the country, in accordance with the Provincial Constitution of Peru, Decree Law 1137 (Law of the Peruvian Army), as well as with State Policies No. 9 and No. 19 of the National Agreement. In this context, the Peruvian Army, consistent with technological advances and the sustainability of the planet, is immersed in a process of transformation to face emerging challenges and threats, taking advantage of some “window of opportunity.” However, although the Peruvian Army has been promoting some initiatives with the ministries responsible for the Peruvian Amazon, these initiatives are far from the reality and functionality of the programmatic structure of the State.
The “Institutional Transformation Plan” constitutes the Strategic Plan for the Development of the Army to 2051, planned in two phases. The first phase of this Plan conceives a time horizon of 15 years (to 2034), being or not of its strategic objectives: “Strengthen the participation of the Army in support of the Sustainable Development of the Country.” One of the strategic actions to achieve this goal is “Manage the participation of military units in areas affected by negative environmental impacts.” To this end, the following are foreseen: (1) Preventive actions to sensitize and raise awareness about significant negative environmental impacts, (2) Monitoring and generation of environmental information, (3) Actions of prevention, surveillance and rehabilitation of environmental incidents and emergencies, and (4) Mitigation and rehabilitation actions of degraded areas. 
Additionally, another of the strategic actions to achieve the aforementioned objective is “Manage the intervention of the Peruvian Army in the border development and integration programs carried out by the border units and the Border Development and Integration Support Battalions (BADIF).” For this, socio-economic and productive development actions of the populations located in the border area (especially in the so-called critical areas) are required, establishing population nuclei formed by native migrants committed to the rational and integral use of natural resources, ensuring environmental balance and the strengthening of national sovereignty and security.
In this sense, the “window of opportunity” that is presented to optimize the development of the Amazon, occurs through the Jungle Battalions and the BADIF, distributed throughout the Peruvian Amazon. However, adequate preparation and improvement of their capacities to intervene in environmental protection and border development is required.
The mission of the Jungle Battalions is framed in different scenarios, considering the special characteristics available for their participation in conventional warfare, unconventional warfare, hybrid warfare and other threats, being able to immediately activate the operation of the border surveillance system.
In order for the Jungle Battalions to carry out these activities, they require trained and equipped personnel to carry out activities to mitigate environmental impacts, surveillance and monitoring, oil spills, river pollution, remediation of degraded areas, among others. Consequently, a multisectoral synergy is required, complemented by an adequate insertion into the different budgetary programs.
In 2019, the Peruvian Army created the Amazon Protection Brigade, as a pilot unit, in order to intervene -through military actions- in those areas where acts that threaten the environment are committed, causing negative environmental impacts. The area chosen for his intervention was “La Pampa” (Madre de Dios), where illegal mining had deforested the area and generated strong geological and water pollution, promoting other related illicit activities. Despite facing serious logistical constraints, the actions of the Amazon Protection Brigade were beneficial for the region. However, this Brigade has not been given the importance of the case, since its personnel have not yet been provided with equipment or specialized training.
Although the Peruvian Constitution allows the participation of the armed forces in the socio-economic development of the country, no public policies have been formulated to encourage their involvement in the protection of the Amazon and the environment, demonstrating that these issues are not a priority on the country’s political agenda. Undoubtedly, in order to ostracize the Amazon region, the execution of multisectoral and integrated actions is required, which articulate and create a multisectoral synergy between actors involved (public administration, private sector, non-governmental organizations, academia and armed forces).
It is therefore essential to create and implement the Amazon and Development System (SPDAA) to promote multisectoral participation and reduce gaps in access to basic services in the Amazon. To this end, the effectiveness of social spending must be considered and synergies with the private sector and international cooperation must be sought, taking as reference Law No. 29158. The SPDAA will be made up of the different ministries, which will be articulated through the National Commission for Development, Protection of the Amazon and Environment (CONADEPAA). This Commission will establish the objectives and goals of social policy and spending, as well as prioritize State policies to achieve the development of the Amazon and comply with the international commitments of socio-economic development assumed by the Peruvian State. Likewise, CONADEPAA will promote multisectoral articulation with regional and local governments, non-governmental organizations and academia in order to encourage the sustainable development of the Amazon, considering national, sectoral and international public policies.
The SPDAA will be organized by levels. At the first level will be CONADEPAA, which will implement decisions at the strategic level and public policies for the development of the Amazon, promoting results-based budget programs and establishing operational synergies with the Joint Command of the Armed Forces. At the second level will be the Regional Commissions for the Development and Protection of the Amazon and the Environment, which will coordinate decision-making, the optimization of resources and the systematization of management capacities of the different regional institutions, establishing an operational synergy with the corresponding Army Divisions. Finally, at the third level will be the Territorial Commissions for the Development and Protection of the Amazon and the Environment, which will regulate decision-making, resource optimization and local management capacities in a given geographical area, establishing an operational synergy with the corresponding Army Brigades. In this sense, it must seek the implementation of the single information system in order to achieve the “traceability” of integrated actions and real-time monitoring, using the National Fiber Optic Dorsal Network (RDNFO) and the National State Network (REDNACE).
In this context, the SPDAA is a window of opportunity for the Peruvian Army since it allows it to strengthen the capacity of the State in the Amazon, benefiting the most vulnerable population in the area. To take advantage of this window of opportunity, the Army has the Amazon Protection Brigade, which fulfills its mission through the Jungle Battalions that make it up. With adequate logistics, technical training and equipment, the Selva Farms will be able to execute development and climate adaptation projects, addressing challenges in the different Amazonian environments, integrating climate-smart measures in the planning, conservation and ecological connectivity of habitats, as well as increasing The resilience of communities to climate change.
Multisectoral articulation -through CONADEPAA- is essential since it will allow the generation of synergy with the different regional and local authorities. Likewise, this articulation will promote a relationship of good intercultural practices through dialogue, aimed at respecting and appreciating the cultural diversity and worldview of the Indigenous or native peoples of the Amazon, mainly of the five Indigenous reserves that exist at the national level (Isconahua, Mashco Piro, Murunahua and Kugapakori, Nagua, and Nanti) and those populations in a state of isolation.
On the one hand, the Peruvian Army is one of the main protagonists of the country’s sustainable development, through military actions that are conducted in compliance with the roles assigned by the Peruvian State and for the benefit of the most vulnerable populations of the Amazon. On the other hand, emerging climate risks are closely related to local, national and global challenges, such as biodiversity loss and food insecurity. In this sense, the State’s commitment to the prevention of any emergency, the consolidation of peace and the contribution to sustainable development provides a solidity to address -institutionally- climate impacts and exploit multisectoral synergies. Therefore, the National Security Strategy will have a lasting impact only through a transversal maneuver to protect the climate and the environment.
Undoubtedly, climate change projects serious threats to national security, requiring a public discussion on this issue. To this end, the attention of the political class must be called to take urgent and concrete measures to limit global warming. Unless climate change becomes the priority of political leaders, any action taken by public institutions, well-meaning individuals, businesses and civil society groups will not be enough to save the Peruvian Amazon.
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- Oscar Medeiros Filho, Mudanca Climática Soberanía e Seguranca: Cenarios futuros, (Brasil: Instituto para Reforma das Relações entre Estado e Empresa IREE, 2021). ↑
- Secretaría de Seguridad y Defensa Nacional, Cultura de Paz y Seguridad Nacional, (Lima: SEDENA, 2015). ↑
- CAEN, Planteamientos Doctrinarios y Metodológicos del Desarrollo de la Seguridad y la Defensa Nacional, (Perú: Centro de Altos Estudios Nacionales, 2007). ↑
- ONU, “Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenible”, Naciones Unidas (2015), https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/es/objetivos-de-desarrollo-sostenible/ ↑
- Víctor Miranda, Defensa Nacional, Seguridad y su relación con el cambio climático, (Perú: Revista de la Escuela Conjunta de las Fuerzas Armadas del Perú, Year 4, No. 2, 2016). ↑
- M. Lee, La legibilidad y los fundamentos informativos de la capacidad estatal, (New York: Jstor, 2021). ↑
- Víctor Miranda, “Ventana de oportunidad para las Fuerzas Armadas en las estrategias de adaptación y mitigación”, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (Lima: 2021) https://repositorio.pucp.edu.pe/index/handle/123456789/184481 ↑
- J. W. Kingdon, Agendas, Alternatives, and Public Policies, (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1984). ↑
- Article 171 (Armed Forces, National Police and the development of the country): The Armed Forces and the National Police participate in the economic and social development of the country, and in civil defense according to law. ↑
- Functions: Participate in the execution of State policies on economic and social development of the country, civil defense, science and technology, archaeological and historical objects, Antarctic affairs, Amazonian affairs and environmental protection, in accordance with current legal regulations. ↑
- “We commit ourselves to maintaining a national security policy that guarantees independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and the safeguarding of national interests. We believe that this is a task that involves society as a whole, the governing bodies of the State, especially the Armed Forces, within the framework of the Constitution and the laws. In this regard, we undertake to prevent and confront any external or internal threat that endangers social peace, integral security and general well-being. To this end, the State will encourage active participation in the protection of Antarctica, the environment, the development of the Amazon and national integration.” ↑
- Victor Miranda, Desafios y perspectivas de la situación ambiental en el Perú, (Lima: Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, 2022). ↑
- Ibid. ↑
- Ibid. ↑
- Integrated action: Use (by a single chain of command) of military and other capabilities provided by the instruments of power of the State, society, or allies to achieve a shared objective. See: Glossary of conjunct terminology, “Integrated Action”, Spanish Defense Staff (2019), https://elconfidencialdigital.opennemas.com/media/elconfidencialdigital/files/2020/07/16/GLOSARIO%202019.pdf ↑
- Ley orgánica del Poder Ejecutivo, Artículo 20 (Comité Interministerial de Asuntos Sociales – CIAS). ↑
- Miranda, Desafios y perspectivas de la situación ambiental en el Perú. ↑
- Diradne, Guía de Buenas Prácticas Ambientales, (Perú: Ejército del Perú, 2020). ↑