Statement by the 51 members of the Group of Friends of Climate and Security, presented at the United Nations Security Council Open Debate on Climate and Security, 24 July, 2020
SECURITY COUNCIL OPEN DEBATE ON CLIMATE AND SECURITY
24 July 2020
Statement on behalf of the Group of Friends of Climate and Security by
H.E Ms. Marlene Moses, Permanent Representative of Nauru to the UN
Members of the Security Council,
I have the honour today to make a statement on behalf of the 51 members of the Group of Friends of Climate and Security, as one of its co-chairs. I thank Minister Maas for organising this Open Debate and for your strong leadership on this crucial issue.
The Secretary-General has described the climate crisis as the defining issue of our time.
Sea levels continue to rise in tandem with temperatures. Severe flooding and droughts are increasingly common in many places. The number of people facing persistent food and water insecurityis rising, causing displacements. And climate change is contributing to a collapse in the world’s biodiversity, the full consequences of which we are only beginning to understand.
Climate change indeed constitutes an existential threat to societies across the globe. Its impacts are already disrupting the lives and livelihoods of people around the world, destabilizing local economies, social relations, and political systems and exacerbating violent conflicts. Poor and vulnerable communities may be the most affected at the moment, but there is no shortage of examples of even the most wealthy and resilient places in the world being overwhelmed.
Achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement will be difficult, but it is necessary. It will require dramatically scaling up financial and technical resources for adaptation and mitigation actions. At the same time, we must deal with the consequences of the climate crisis that are already affecting ustoday. We are deeply concerned by the global implications of climate change for peace and security, which will increasingly unfold in the years to come. Vulnerable groups, including women and children, will be disproportionately affected.
Our citizens expect us to act. And they expect the Security Council, as the organ responsible for the maintenance of international peace and security, to act now.
While we recognize and support other efforts and processes taking place within different parts of the United Nations family, not least the General Assembly, ECOSOC, and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, with the Paris Agreement adopted under the Convention as the key international instrument for addressing climate change, we believe this Council must do more.
Our meeting today follows on several previous initiatives by Security Council members since the issue was first brought to the Security Council’s table in 2007. Thirteen years later, some progress has been made. Twelve Security Council resolutions refer to climate-related security risks as a result of the engagement by a large number of UN member states both inside and outside the Council, including members of the Group of Friends of Climate and Security.
However, there is still ample room to make the Council’s approach more robust and systematic.
The Secretary-General famously said ahead of the 2019 Climate Action Summit: “don’t bring a speech – bring a plan”. We have brought both. We believe it is necessary for the whole UN system – including the Security Council – to step up its ambitions and follow-up on words with concrete deeds.
We call for a regular comprehensive report by the Secretary-General on the peace and security implications of the adverse effects of climate change in country- or region-specific contexts which may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security. Such reports should include an assessment of early warning indicators and foresights of climate-related security risks, as well asconcrete recommendations for action by UN organs to address these risks.
This would contribute to the ability of the Security Council to detect, address and prevent looming crises and conflicts before they become a reality, which is one of the United Nations’ most important tasks.
We encourage the Security Council to continue mandating peacekeeping operations as well as Special Political Missions to consider climate-related risks in their activities. We sometimes hear that peacekeeping missions have more pressing issues to focus on than climate change. While this may seem true at a first glance, in many ways the effects of climate change make it harder to keep the peace. It is hardly a coincidence that eight out of the ten countries hosting the largest multilateral peace operations are located in areas highly exposed to the impact of climate change.
We strongly support the Climate Security Mechanism led by DPPA, UNDP and UNEP. Its work, including information-sharing and the development of tools to promote a common understanding of the interlinkages between climate change and peace and security, is crucial to mainstream this topic across the UN system. More information means better understanding and more adequate responses.
We also support the appointment of a Special Envoy or Special Representative for Climate and Security who could strengthen coordination between relevant United Nations entities to address climate-related security risks.
We need to integrate a climate lens into mediation efforts and preventive diplomacy. Climate-related security risks are at the core of the conflict prevention agenda. Member States, the Secretariat, the Security Council, and UN missions must factor in climate-related security risks in all conflict prevention and peacebuilding activities. We expect them to do so with a gender-responsive approach.
Research shows that the adverse effects of climate change could reverse the peacebuilding and development gains of countries in fragile contexts most affected by climate change. It is therefore imperative that we strengthen the nexus between peace and security, humanitarian assistance, human rights and development.
We also need to reinforce partnerships with national and regional actors on climate-related security risks, including with civil society organizations and national weather services. They have invaluable direct knowledge of the security risks facing populations due to climate change. We welcome the initiatives taken by the African Union to both strengthen its own work on climate and security and to advance the partnership with the UN.
To conclude Mr President,
Climate change is not just another risk to consider, alongside many others. As both science and experience have shown, it is an existential issue, with the potential to threaten peace and security. As such I once again reiterate the Security Council’s responsibility and obligation to do everything in its power to address it and act accordingly.
While climate change entails risks, it also opens possibilities for cooperation. To address it we need to work together, and we stand more ready than ever to do so.