Story by Izzy Lonigro
Ecological risks are now the largest looming threat to instability and displacement globally, according to the first ever edition of the Ecological Threat Register produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace.
The Ecological Threat Register determines a country’s preparedness for shock. It examines 157 countries, comprising 97% of the world’s population, ranking them based on six factors: water stress, population growth, food insecurity, natural disaster, and resilience. It also compiles lists of current ecological threats and threats that will arrive in the future.
“The intent of this project was to aggregate the data sets available and depict the story behind those data sets, and there are a lot of dark stories hiding behind them,” said Charlie Allen, director of partnerships at the Institute for Economics and Peace.
This event was brought to Northeastern by alumna Francesca Batault, who virtually moderated a discussion with Allen regarding this new publication at Northeastern University.
Allen explained that the Ecological Threat Register correlates with the Positive Peace Index (also developed by the Economic Institute for Peace). “This index evaluates attitudes and structures that create and sustain peaceful societies,” said Allen.
It was found that countries that measured low in positive peace faced the most amount of ecological threats with 10 out of the 19 most exposed countries being among the least peaceful. Afghanistan faces the most ecological threats of all countries, and is notably not peaceful in both data and current events.
“High positive peace is a good proxy indicator for a country’s resilience,” said Allen. While countries with higher positive peace don’t have any less natural disasters than those with low positive peace they have substantially less fatalities.
When asked by an audience member what surprised him most in this research, Allen was quick to speak about the Register’s prediction of future displacement.
“The most striking aspect were the figures of 2.1 billion people expected to be displaced globally,” he answered. The Ecological Threat Register predicts that by 2050 1.2 billion will have been displaced due to natural disasters.
In the second addition of the Ecological Threat Register Allen says there will be a further focus on refining data and finding more data that can improve this resource.
Batault sat down with the Global Journal to talk about how she got involved in humanitarian work and the Institute for Economics and Peace. The following are edited excerpts from the conversation.
Q: What did you do at Northeastern to prepare for work in this field?
A: It was Professor Garcia’s dialogue to Geneva that got me hooked on all of this. We visited the International Federation of the Red Cross and this is where the interest came. I went home and self developed a co-op at the International Committee of the Red Cross in South Africa., This was an international humanitarian organization that provided assistance to conflict zones. I worked in the legal department and learned about international humanitarian law and law of armed conflict. This set me down the humanitarian path. After co-op I was a teacher’s assistant for Professor Garcia’s global governance classes. That year I went on the Geneva dialogue again, this time as a teacher’s assistant.
Q: What have you been up to since graduating Northeastern?
A: I graduated from Northeastern in 2019 with a degree in philosophy, politics and economics. I was president of the Global Journal during my time at Northeastern. After graduation I moved to London and enrolled in a master’s degree program at the London School of Economics in international relations. Now I’m currently at the International Crisis working on early warning and prevention. I loved my major at Northeastern. I loved the dialogues and co-ops. I left Northeastern really interested in humanitarian work.
Q: How did you get involved with Charlie Allen and the Institute for Economics and Peace?
A: Professor Garcia got me in touch with Charlie Allen, actually. I heard about what he was doing and from there I got really interested in the ambassador program at the Institute for Economics and Peace. It’s a program for young professionals interested in positive peace building. In the program they teach you about the work of the institute, what positive peace means and looks like, and how to activate positive peace pillars. As part of the program I had to host an event of a talk where Charlie and I materialized this event for the Northeastern community.
Q: What about the Ecological Threat Register specifically interested you?
A: I worked with the Institute for Economics and Peace through a number of classes during my education. I was interested in their work even then, especially the idea of conceptualizing and measuring peace. The Ecological Threat Register brings an interesting approach to measuring peace. It measures how much of an impact the environments and humans destroying the planet is going to have on peace. A lot of the projects I work on now have an element of climate change involved in preventing peace. This bridged my interest from positive peace towards the Ecological Threat Register.
Q: What advice would you give to someone who wants to work in this field?
A: Take every single internship opportunity you can. Don’t waste a minute doing nothing. Get published. Do anything to get your name out there. Take any course you can on crisis and conflict work through Linkedin or the United Nations. Don’t forget the reason you are doing this. You can change the world.
Q: What do you hope to do next in your career?
A: Eventually I’d like to transition into field work in humanitarian aid, camps or conflict zones. I’d like to work for the Red Cross or United Nations and work on the ground. In order to do anything meaningful you need to be in the field. You can’t make any change unless you’ve seen the reality of the conflict zones and humanitarian crises for yourself.