Environmental degradation causes stress in individuals and groups, especially through a scarcity of resources. When political processes within a nation are unable to handle the effects of environmental stress, such as those resulting from erosion and desertification which lead to the marginalization of sectors of the population, this can lead directly to violence. A number of factors affect the connection between environmental stress, poverty, and security, such as inadequate development policies, adverse trends in the international economy, inequities in multi-racial and multi-ethnic societies, and pressures of population growth. Environmental stress, such as burned fields and forests, may be both a cause and a result of military conflict between nations, and add to the human distress of the other consequences of war.
In 1996 it was reported that some 80 countries comprising 40% of the world's population are suffering from serious water shortages; in many cases, the shortage has become the limiting factor to economic and social development. 1.2 billion poor people, more than one-fifth of the world's population, live in countries facing what is termed 'medium-high to high water stress'.
There can no longer be the slightest doubt that resource scarcities and ecological stresses constitute real and imminent threats to the future well-being of all people and nations.