The energy security concept has been discussed on the last part of the Jean Monnet Network on Atlantic Studies project where Orkestra was involved. What does this term involve?
Last Easter holidays I spent a few days in Istanbul (cradle of Hagia Sophia masterpiece of the Byzantine architecture, one of the first centers of Christianity and the old Constantinople). Once there, I had the opportunity to visit different historical monuments and to step for the first time in Asia. I also visited the Topkapi Palace, a wonderful place, with breathtaking views over the city, fantastic tulips and roses´ gardens and buildings with impressive domes and ornaments strategically located in Sultanahmet.
One of the buildings of this Palace, is an ancient library in whose main entrance the visitor can read the following: “My friend, take learning seriously and declare 'O my Lord, increase me in knowledge'” (from Surah-al-Ta-Ha, 20:14). As a researcher I really appreciated that quote, because of my love of learning, exploring new fields, and being able to understand questions that might be unnoticed by other people. May anyone imagine being in Constantinople, during its cultural splendor while the construction of Hagia Sophia, for instance?
Leaving behind these historical events and making a stop in a closer scenario, we were currently about to finish a three-year research project. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to participate in The Jean Monnet Network on Atlantic Studies. During these three years, I met influential researchers in several congresses where I have enhanced my knowledge. This Project was organised around three main topics: energy, economy and human security.
Nowadays there is a need for a “holistic” energy security definition which could reveal and reflect the complexity of the concept
As part of the energy lab at Orkestra, we began taking part exclusively in the topic of energy. However, as the research was developing, we have finally participated in the three congresses, taking the energy field further and considering that energy strengths cross sectorial areas of knowledge. In summary, we wrote about energy transportation for the first year in 2016. In the following year, we made research on LNG trade in the Atlantic Basin and this last year we have worked on energy security in the framework of human security.
During the last congress, I learnt that the concept of human security has completely evolved. It has developed from military issues to interrelated matters such as food and climate change. As a consequence, the debate on human security should be now considered international, interconnected and intersectoral.
In the meanwhile, energy security concept (topic on which we worked during this last part of the project) has also grew, and nowadays there is a need for a “holistic” energy security definition which could reveal and reflect the complexity of the concept. Therefore, it could be the continuous availability of sustainable energy in varied forms, in sufficient quantities, at affordable prices. Furthermore, some authors feel that this definition should include two more dimensions: technology and regulation. According to the IEA there are still two further dimensions of energy security: long-term and short-term energy security.
Energy security should be framed within the human security concept as it impacts at least four dimensions of human security: economic, food, health and environment. Even if today the nexus between energy security and human security could seem stronger in some parts of the globe as the South Atlantic Basin, climate change and other elements as energy transitions or cyber-attacks could cause different types of supply problems as it happened when hurricane Katrina for instance.
The link between energy and human security have consequences away from where the tensions in the Near East, for instance, as world economy is more interconnected than ever before.
At present, the tensions in the Near East and in crude oil supply have raised because of the following events: the confrontation in the Persian Gulf of the U.S.A and Iran (which not being something new is different from those of the eighties because the dependence on Middle East crude oil has shifted away from the West to the Indo-Pacific), the seizure of the British Royal Marine of an Iranian oil tanker in Gibraltar, on 4th July, that was supposed to bring crude to Syria in violation of EU sanctions, the attempt of three Iranian boats to intercept a British oil tanker, on 11th July, before being driven off by a Royal Navy warship, and the capture of a British flagged oil tanker by Iran in the narrow Strait of Hormuz, on 20th July. Therefore, the Pentagone announced that the US would deploy troops to Saudi Arabia.
In this manner, last events in the Persian Gulf show the relevance of studying the link between energy and human security beyond the Atlantic Basin as episodes as those described previously have consequences away from where they take place as world economy is more interconnected than ever before.
I expect that in the future I would have the opportunity to go in depth on this research topic, what I would share in this blog. Because as I learnt during the Jean Monnet project knowledge is one of the few things that by sharing it, it enhances so I recommend to you “take learning seriously and declare 'O my Lord, increase me in knowledge'”.
Macarena Larrea holds a Ph.D. in Business Advertising and Development from the University of the Basque Country, she wrote her thesis on the “Internalization of the External Costs of Electricity Production”.