Climate Change ‘Biggest Threat Modern Humans Have Ever Faced’, World-Renowned Naturalist Tells Security Council, Calls for Greater Global Cooperation
Climate change is a “crisis multiplier” that has profound implications for international peace and stability, Secretary-General António Guterres told the Security Council today, amid calls for deep partnerships within and beyond the United Nations system to blunt its acute effects on food security, natural resources and migration patterns fuelling tensions across countries and regions.
Throughout the morning, the Council’s high-level open debate on climate and security heard from a range of influential voices, including naturalist David Attenborough, who called climate change “the biggest threat to security that modern humans have ever faced”. In video remarks telecast at the outset, he warned that concentrations of carbon dioxide currently in the atmosphere have not been equalled for millions of years.
“If we continue on our current path, we will face the collapse of everything that gives us our security,” he said: food production, access to fresh water, habitable ambient temperature and ocean food chains. The poorest — those with the least security — are certain to suffer. “Our duty right now is surely to do all we can to help those in the most immediate danger.”
While the world will never return to the stable climate that gave birth to civilization, he said that, if Governments attending the twenty-sixth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in November recognize climate change as a global security threat, “we may yet act proportionately — and in time”.
Climate change can only be dealt with by unparalleled levels of global cooperation, he said. It will compel countries to question economic models, invent new industries and recognize the moral responsibility that wealthy nations have to the rest of the world, placing a value on nature that “goes far beyond money”. He challenged the international community to finally create a stable, healthy world where resources are equally shared and where — for the first time in history — people “come to know what it feels like to be secure”.
Mr. Guterres echoed those calls, describing the climate emergency as “the defining issue of our time”. Noting that the last decade was the hottest in human history, he said wildfires, cyclones, floods and droughts are now the new normal. “These shocks not only damage the environment on which we depend, they also weaken our political, economic and social systems,” he said.
Indeed, where climate change dries up rivers, reduces harvests, destroys critical infrastructure and displaces communities, it exacerbates the risks of conflict, he said. A study by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute found that 8 of the 10 countries hosting the largest multilateral peace operations in 2018 were in areas highly exposed to climate change.
The impact is greatest where fragility and conflict have weakened coping mechanisms, he said, where people depend on natural capital for their livelihoods and where women — who bear the greatest burden of the climate emergency — do not enjoy equal rights. He highlighted examples in Afghanistan, where reduced harvests have pushed people into poverty, leaving them susceptible to recruitment by armed groups, and across West Africa and the Sahel, where changes in grazing patterns have fostered conflict between pastoralists and farmers. In some Pacific small island nations, entire communities have been forced to relocate.
“The forced movement of larger numbers of people around the world will clearly increase the potential for conflict and insecurity,” he observed. He called for greater efforts to address climate‑related security risks, starting with a focus on prevention, and creating a global coalition committed to achieving net-zero emissions by mid-century. The United Nations is asking companies, cities and financial institutions to prepare credible decarbonization plans.
In addition, immediate actions are needed to protect countries from increasingly frequent and severe climate effects. He urged donors and multilateral and national development banks to increase the share of adaptation and resilience finance to at least 50 per cent of their climate finance support. Developed countries, too, must keep their pledge to channel $100 billion annually to the global South. “They have already missed the deadline of 2020,” he acknowledged.
Above all, he called for embracing a concept of security that places people at its centre, stressing that COVID-19 has laid bare the devastation that non‑traditional security threats can cause on a global scale. In all such efforts, it will be essential to build on the strengths of the Security Council, Peacebuilding Commission, international financial institutions, regional organizations, civil society, the private sector, academia and others.
Issuing a call to action, Nisreen Elsaim, Chair of the Youth Organization on Climate Change and the United Nations Youth Advisory Group, said young people around the globe are watching the Security Council as it grapples with climate change. Each of the organ’s four meetings on the issue — in 2007, 2011, 2018 and 2019 — have referenced serious climate-related security risks in Somalia, Darfur, West Africa and the Sahel, Mali and the Lake Chad Basin. “Science has forecasted many more countries will join this list if we did not take the right measures now, and if we did not start adaptation specially in Africa,” she said, adding that, in her country, “we are living in continuous insecurity due to many factors that put Sudan on the top of the list when it comes to climate vulnerability”.
She recalled that, in a 2018 Council resolution on Sudan, members recognized the adverse effects of climate change, ecological changes and natural hazards on the situation in Darfur, focusing specifically on drought, desertification, land degradation and food insecurity. “Human survival, in a situation of resources degradation, hunger, poverty and uncontrolled climate migration, will make conflict an inevitable result,” she said. Moreover, climate-related emergencies cause major disruptions in access to health, life-saving sexual and reproductive health services, and result in loss of livelihoods and drive displacement and migration. They also increase the risk of gender-based violence and harmful practices and force young people to flee in search of a decent life.
Welcoming the Council’s recent deployment of a new special political mission, the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in the Sudan (UNITAMS), she said it has a historic opportunity to speak to the root causes of the conflict. Climate change and youth participation is mentioned twice in the Mission’s mandate, and climate change challenges are included in the 2020 Juba Peace Agreement. Emphasizing that young people must be part of the solution, she declared: “We are the present, we have the future, let’s not repeat previous generations’ lapse.”
In the ensuing dialogue, Heads of State and Government, along with ministers and other senior officials described national actions to attenuate the negative impact of climate change and offered their views on the related security risks. Some pressed the Council to broaden its thinking about non-traditional security threats. Several — including leaders from Kenya and Niger — stressed that the link between climate and conflict could not be more evident, while others explored the ability of Governments to meet people’s basic needs, and still others cast doubt on the assertion that the relationship between climate and conflict is causal, instead pointing to political and economic factors that are known to drive tensions.
Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Council President for February, speaking in his national capacity, said the Council, while imperfect, has been willing to lead the way in confronting threats to international security. “That is exactly what climate change represents,” he said, acknowledging that, while there are some who disagree, these cynics “could not be more wrong”. While the causes of climate change may not sit within the Council’s traditional purview, its effects most certainly do. He asked delegates to consider the young man forced onto the road when his once‑fertile home becomes a desert — one of the 16 million people displaced by weather-related disasters each year — who becomes easy prey for violent extremists, or the girl who drops out of school because her daily search for water takes her away from her family — and into the sights of the human traffickers.
“If such scenes were triggered by the actions of some despotic warlord or internecine conflict, few would question this Council’s right to act or its duty to do so,” he assured. “This is not a subject from which we should shy away.” The world must move from 51 billion metric tons of greenhouse‑gas emissions each year to net zero, so that the increase in global temperatures remains within manageable levels. For its part, the United Kingdom Parliament passed a law committing to net zero by 2050, he said, drawing attention to his pledge that the nation would slash emissions by 68 per cent by 2030. He urged the Council to act, “because climate change is a geopolitical issue every bit as much as an environmental one”, stressing that, if it is to succeed in maintaining peace and security worldwide, it must galvanize and support the United Nations family of agencies into a swift and effective response.
Kaïs Saïed, President of Tunisia, agreed with Ms. Elsaim that the world must listen to youth on climate change. More broadly, humans — and not money — must be placed at the centre of the issue. Voicing support for the Secretary-General’s 2021 priorities, especially his efforts to galvanize Member States to confront the multiple impacts of climate change, he described it as ironic that humans are, at the same time, the phenomenon’s drivers and its greatest victims. “It is no one’s right to […] to commit all of humanity to death,” he stressed, noting that Council resolution 2532 (2020) confirmed that insecurity can be driven by a multitude of factors, not just armed conflict. One such driver is the deepening poverty and resource scarcity resulting from a changing climate, particularly in Africa. Climate factors often prolong conflict and create conditions conducive to deprivation, exclusion, terrorism and organized crime.
Calling on the Council to adopt a new, more comprehensive approach and for sufficient resources for all specialized agencies related to climate change, he underlined the need for early warning systems and better prevention strategies. Noting that the COVID-19 pandemic and other recent crises have once again revealed the need for States to strengthen their solidarity, he emphasized the need for prompt action while stressing that the burden borne by States must be differentiated based on their degree of responsibility for causing the crisis. Moreover, mitigation cannot be at the expense of developing countries, he said.
Uhuru Kenyatta, President of Kenya, said that new approaches to investment by the public and private sector need to reach the countries and regions worst hit by climate change. Persistent droughts, constant sea‑level rise and increasingly frequent extreme weather patterns are reversing economic growth and development gains achieved over decades. The result is increased fragility to instability and armed conflict that then come to the attention of this Security Council. The implementation of the Council’s mandate to maintain global peace and security will only get more difficult with time if climate change remains on its present course. Rather than wait for a future tipping point, we must redouble the efforts to direct all the resources and multilateral frameworks of our rules-based international order to mitigate the effects of climate change. While the bulk of this work is happening outside the Council, no body with such a strong mandate should step aside from this challenge.
The climate-security nexus is already impacting Africa. “Listen to us Africans when we tell you that the link is clear, its impact tangible and the need for solutions urgent,” he said. Making recommendations, he said that the Council must do more when crafting mandates for conflict resolution and post-conflict resolution to ensure they dovetail with the efforts to deploy climate change mitigation and adaptation measures. In this regard, he applauded Council resolutions 2349 (2017) and 2502 (2019), respectively on Lake Chad and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, that have integrated measures to address the impact of climate change. The 15-member organ can also act strongly against illicit financial outflows, illicit resource exploitation, terrorism financing and money‑laundering in the most fragile regions in Africa. Doing so immediately boosts the resources available to Governments to undertake climate change mitigation and offer the public services and goods needed to consolidate and protect peace.
Brigi Rafini, Prime Minister of Niger, agreed that the impact of climate change on peace and security is increasingly evident, stressing that water scarcity exacerbated by climate change could see gross domestic product (GDP) in the Sahel fall by 6 per cent and hunger increase 20 per cent by 2050. Climate change has increased competition for diminished land and water resources, ramping up tensions between livestock owners and others. He underscored the collective responsibility to tackle this existential challenge, stressing that “climate change and land degradation are no longer purely environmental matters”. Rather, they are part of a broader view that links environmental goals with those for economic and social development, and the pursuit of international peace and stability.
“We need to consider climate change as a threat to peace and security,” he said, urging the Council to shore up its understanding of impact on security and to systematically consider climate change in its resolutions pertaining to specific country and regional contexts. In such efforts, it should rely on the advisory role of the Peacebuilding Commission, and the Informal Expert Group on Climate and Security, co-chaired by Niger and Ireland. The appointment of a Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Climate and Security likewise will raise the profile of this dimension within the Council’s work.
Nguyễn Xuân Phúc, Prime Minister of Viet Nam, said the Earth’s recent calamities have placed great burdens on the political and socioeconomic life of many countries, causing unemployment and poverty, creating instability and exacerbating current conflicts. Against that backdrop, the Council should galvanize the international community’s collective efforts with an approach that is balanced between traditional and non-traditional security challenges. That includes addressing the root causes of conflicts such as poverty, inequality, power politics and unilateral interference and coercion.
Calling for strict adherence to the Charter of the United Nations and international law, he said the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Paris Agreement on climate change must guide the way, and greater resources are needed to support developing countries, least developed countries, small island developing States and landlocked countries. The Council should also enhance its early warning capacity, bolster its mediation and conflict prevention roles, work more closely with regional organizations and fully respect States’ sovereignty and national ownership. Noting that Viet Nam is among the six countries most severely affected by climate change, he outlined various national efforts to address the challenge while requesting more international assistance.
Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway, emphasized that climate change is redefining the global security landscape. “We must rethink and adapt the Council’s approaches to peacebuilding and sustaining peace in three ways,” she said. First, the Council needs better information on climate-related security risks. International research networks and the informal expert group will be important in that regard. Norway has helped establish a Nordic-Baltic expert network. Second, the Council should discuss climate risks in specific country contexts, based on country reporting and briefings. The United Nations must be at the forefront of preventive diplomacy. To achieve sustainable solutions, peace diplomacy must be climate-sensitive, and climate action must be conflict‑sensitive. Third, it is imperative to strengthen partnerships within and beyond the United Nations system, including with affected States and regional organizations. The active participation of diverse groups, including women and youth, is also vital.
The national security communities in many countries have understood the security risks posed by climate change, she continued. While climate change can lead to hard security challenges, there are no hard security solutions. The first line of defence is ambitious climate action. It must begin with the full implementation of the Paris Agreement and 2030 Agenda. Climate action depends on multilateral cooperation. By shouldering a common responsibility to counter climate change, the Council will be better prepared to maintain international peace and stability.
Ralph E. Gonsalves, Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, emphasizing that the Council has a responsibility to address the consequences of climate change, said a failure to do so would be, in part, “an abdication of our duty”. It is time for the organ to seriously consider drafting a resolution on the matter and to map out a coherent approach, aiming for a working consensus. Affirming UNFCCC’s role as the primary body for dealing with climate change and the Paris Agreement as a major part of the rules-based international system, he said the Council should play its role without encroaching on the work of UNFCCC’s inclusive decision-making body. It should also engage with the Peacebuilding Commission and the General Assembly on climate and security risks that touch on issues of humanitarian support, sustainable development, health pandemics, peace and security.
Stressing that the first step to prevent or contain climate-security risks is for the major, and historical, emitters to fulfil — and indeed exceed — the commitments made in the Paris Agreement, he underlined the principle of common but differentiated responsibility. Climate change is an existential threat that disproportionately affects the most vulnerable, especially small island developing States such as Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. “It has become distressingly commonplace for an entire year’s [gross domestic product] to be washed away by a hurricane overnight, even as we are hindered by a lack of a sufficient inclusion, on favourable terms, into the global financial architecture,” he said. Citing the many natural hazards in Haiti, in particular, he also drew attention to the Sahel region and the battle for dwindling resources. However, no country is immune to such human-made challenges and all must stand in solidarity, with the Council paying close attention to climate change as it crafts its mandates, he said.
Kaja Kallas, Prime Minister of Estonia, said 7 of the 10 countries most vulnerable and least prepared to deal with climate change host a United Nations peacekeeping operation or a special political mission — a fact the Council cannot ignore. She expressed support for the statement to be delivered by Germany’s Foreign Minister on behalf of like-minded countries pointing the way forward for the Council, stressing that “we need to acknowledge that the climate emergency can pose a danger to peace — and we must make it a part of our security policy planning and discussions here”. She pressed the Council to “do more” to fully
aspects of its work, noting that the Secretary-General must receive a mandate to collect data and coordinate policy to this aim.
Among other efforts, she said that Estonia cooperates with small island States and least developed countries in green technology solutions and know-how transfer. The Government also recently launched the Data for the Environment Alliance, a coalition of State and non-State actors that will support the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in developing a global environmental data strategy by 2025.
Simon Coveney, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence of Ireland, said that climate change has many complex impacts, not least on international peace and security, the very business of this Council. Climate change is already causing upheaval, affecting peace and security and the stability of societies. Pointing out that the relationship between climate and security works in complex ways, he said political instability undermines efforts to build climate resilience, and the impact of climactic shocks is compounded when institutions are strained. Ireland is proud to join the Weathering Risk Project to help guide action at the Security Council and beyond, and is keen to understand better not just how climate change contributes to insecurity but how climate action can build peace. Ireland chairs the Informal Expert Group of Member States on this topic, together with Niger, also partnering with Nauru and Germany, as Chairs of the Group of Friends on Climate and Security.
Ireland’s core message today is that the inclusion of climate in Council discussions and actions will strengthen conflict prevention and support peacebuilding efforts. Stressing the need to ensure the full, equal and meaningful participation of women and youth in decision-making processes related to climate issues and the management of natural resources, he declared: “But, in listening to and understanding the concerns and insights of future generations, we cannot abrogate our responsibility to provide leadership today”.
Marcelo Ebrard Casaubón, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mexico, said the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed that international peace and security can no longer be viewed through a single lens, but must also consider multiple drivers of insecurity. Food insecurity, water scarcity and droughts — all exacerbated by climate change — have reached severe levels in several regions of the world. Pledging Mexico’s support to the next Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC in Glasgow, later in 2021, he said climate change requires a comprehensive global response with a focus on ecosystem preservations. Mexico recently submitted its own national plan in that arena, which is coupled with a focus on prevention and adaptation, as well as efforts to reduce inequality and strengthen communities. Stressing that all efforts must be taken in line with the 2030 Agenda, he welcomed the Council’s creation of an informal group to monitor the links between climate and peace and security as a timely measure. Underlining the importance of ensuring sustainable peacebuilding and protecting livelihoods, he agreed with the Secretary-General that post-pandemic recovery efforts are an opportunity to “build back better” and build more egalitarian, adaptable societies.
Emmanuel Macron, President of France, said protecting the environment has, in recent years, meant recognizing climate change as a peace and security issue. Of the 20 countries most affected by conflict in the world, 12 are also severely impacted by climate change, he said, spotlighting the impacts of desertification, the increase in forced migration and agricultural challenges — all of which have resulted in such fallout as the advent of climate refugees and growing conflicts over land and water. Endorsing the initiative to address such matters under the auspices of the Council, he echoed calls for the appointment of a United Nations Special Envoy for Climate Security, as well as for an annual Secretary-General’s report with relevant recommendations.
Recognizing that the effects of climate change are unfairly distributed worldwide, he recalled his recent call for France’s contribution to the Green Climate Fund to be increased to one third of its total. France strongly supports the creation of a “Great Green Wall” in Africa, which aims to restore 250 million hectares of land for agriculture, create 10 million green new jobs and sequester carbon. He also pledged France’s commitment to accelerating the preservation of biodiversity, while calling for strengthened dialogue between the African Union and the United Nations on climate and security. Turning to the Pacific, where many nations are struggling to implement mitigation measures, he called for additional international support and an easing of geopolitical tensions across the region.
Prakash Javadekar, Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change of India, recalled the global democratic effort to take climate action in a nationally determined manner, based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibility and respective capabilities. He cautioned the Council against building a parallel climate track where such principles are “brushed aside”. Noting that there is no common, widely accepted methodology for assessing the links between climate change, conflict and fragility, he said fragility and climate impact are highly context‑specific. In fragile contexts, where Governments struggle to provide basic services, emergency conditions are largely driven by political violence disrupting harvests and aid supplies, rather than by climate factors alone. “A complete picture of climate vulnerability only emerges with an assessment of the State’s capacity to be the primary responder to interrelated environmental, social, economic and security dynamics,” he said. While climate change does not directly cause violent conflict, its interaction with other social, political and economic factors can exacerbate conflict drivers. He called for the building of robust governance structures at local, national and regional levels to address climate‑ and fragility-related risks, pressing donor countries to provide greater financial, technological and capacity-building assistance to help fragile States enact adaption and mitigation strategies.
John F. Kerry, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate of the United States, thanked European and other countries for their leadership on climate change during what he described as the United States “inexcusable absence” from the debate over the past four years. Though climate change is indeed an existential threat, the world has yet to adequately respond to it. Noting that the question of climate change is no longer one for debate, he declared: “The evidence, the science, is screaming at us.” Many of the world’s regions most impacted by climate change are also projected to become future conflict hotspots. Therefore, the issue must feature in all of the Council’s work and reporting. Emphasizing that President Joseph R. Biden understands that “we do not have a moment to waste”, he cited his new coordinated, whole-of-Government approach which aims to elevate the issue and put the United States on the path to sustainability that can never be reversed by any future President or demagogue.
Addressing climate change will require every country to step up and boost their level of ambition, he said, noting that the world’s largest carbon emitters bear the greatest responsibility. First and foremost will be the need to reduce the use of coal globally. “Inaction comes with a far higher price tag than action,” he said, stressing that, not since the industrial revolution has there been such potential to build back better in every part of the globe. Just by doing nothing, humanity will march forward in what is tantamount to a mutual suicide pact, he warned, spotlighting the importance of the climate summit to be hosted by President Biden in the coming weeks, as well as the Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC to be held in Glasgow later in 2021. The United States will also work with like-minded countries in the Council, he said, urging Member States to begin treating climate change as the security crisis that it is.
Xie Zhenhua, Special Envoy for Climate Change of China, said that, even as global climate governance enters a new and crucial phase, the spread of COVID-19 poses serious threats to the global response. Given the differences in historical responsibility and development levels between States, he underscored the principle of common but differentiated responsibility and urged developed nations to lead the way. In building back after the pandemic, countries should respect nature, protect biodiversity, champion green lifestyles and “avoid old paths of giving without taking” from the Earth. In that context, he described climate change as a development issue, urging the international community to support developing nations, least developed countries and small island developing States in implementing mitigation and adaptation measures.
“We need to stay committed to multilateralism,” he stressed, underlining the importance of UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement as the main channels for those critical discussions. Any role to be played by the Security Council on climate change must fall under its purview, he added. Outlining China’s commitment to fulfilling its responsibilities under the Paris Agreement, he spotlighted its recently announced plan to have national CO2 emissions peak before 2030 and to achieve carbon neutrality prior to 2060. He also pointed out that the country’s forest cover has been rising steadily for many years, that it leads the world in green power generation and that it tops the list of clean energy patents registered.
The representative of the Russian Federation agreed that addressing climate change requires a global approach that is coordinated, targeted at reducing emissions and implementing effective adaptation measures, especially through UNFCCC. Noting that the Council has discussed climate change on several occasions, he said the issue is often presented as a fundamental threat to stability and as a root cause of problems, particularly in Africa, with warnings about the increasing risks of conflict. While he agreed that climate change can exacerbate conflict, he questioned whether it is the root cause of violence. “There are serious doubts,” he said. The connection between climate and conflict can be examined only in certain countries and regions. Discussing it in the global context is not relevant. “Not all conflicts are threats to international peace and security,” he explained. In addition, considering climate as a root cause of security issues distracts from the true root causes, and thus, hinders solutions. Political and socioeconomic factors, which have a greater influence on conflict risk, cannot be ignored, he said, pointing out that COVID-19 has exacerbated inequalities within and between countries and sparked an uptick in hunger — including in countries that were already in conflict. He urged donors to address the problem of “green protectionism”, seen in their refusal to exchange technology that would allow others to adapt. While discussing climate issues in the Council is seen as beneficial, the “real work” of improving coordination of international activities would be better accomplished in the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and UNFCC. Conflicts — in and of themselves — reduce the ability of States to adapt to climate change, he said, explaining that the increased security risks in the Sahel are, in fact, caused by countries pursuing regime change in Libya.
Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, President of Malawi, speaking for the least developed countries, said building resilience to mitigate the security risks associated with climate change must begin with reflections on COVID-19, as Governments have relegated many other priorities in the quest to fight the virus. Describing the impact of the nexus between climate change and security is “indiscriminate and consequential”, he said water scarcity, desertification and cyclones all foster competition for resources, and in the process, turn people into climate refugees. Least developed countries bear the brunt of these phenomena, despite that their emissions are 30 times lower than those of high‑income countries. Stressing that recovery from the coronavirus must be aligned with efforts to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C, he pressed developed countries to approach the 2021 UNFCC meeting with more ambition than in years past, as their current commitments to cut emissions remain “woefully inadequate”. They must fulfil their pledges to provide $100 billion in climate financing annually, answer the call to earmark 50 per cent of financing in the Green Climate Fund for adaptation, especially in least developed countries, and to meaningfully transfer climate‑friendly technologies to help least developed countries accelerate their green development efforts.
Gaston Alphonso Browne, Prime Minister and Minister for Finance and Corporate Governance of Antigua and Barbuda, spoke on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States, declaring: “Make no mistake […] climate change’s existential threat to our own survival is not a future consideration, but a current reality.” For the past 30 years, the Alliance has been the single most consistent advocate on climate, he said, highlighting the often-overlooked threats faced by small island developing States. He urged the international community to simultaneously plan and operationalize a system to address inevitable loss and damage which uproot peace and security of small island developing States. Equitable solutions are needed to systematically address difficult issues, such as climate change displacement, including the treatment of climate refugees, and loss of territory. For the past three decades, small island and low-lying States have been sounding the alarm, sending the SOS distress signal. They are losing their territories, populations, resources and very existence due to climate change. The Secretary-General recently stated: “Without nature’s help, we will not thrive or even survive[…] For too long, we have been waging a senseless and suicidal war on nature.” Sadly, small island developing States continue to be the front line for this war. “Our appeal for the Council is to take this threat very seriously before it is too late,” he said.
Heiko Maas, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany, speaking for the Group of Friends of Climate and Security, said those countries are united by the common belief that climate change is the fundamental challenge of our time. The poorest and most vulnerable are suffering the most, with entire islands at risk of disappearing. “We are putting their future, their safety and their well‑being at risk if we don’t act,” he stressed, calling for concerted efforts by the United Nations in making climate change its top priority. Agreeing with other speakers that the issue has major implications for peace and security, he said it therefore belongs firmly on the Council’s agenda. In July 2020, the Nauru delegation presented the organ with a plan of action, including calling for the appointment of a Special Envoy on Climate and Security; regular reporting to the Council; climate‑sensitive peacebuilding; and more cooperation with civil society, regional and national actors on climate-related security risks. Now, it is time for the Council to adopt a strong resolution reflecting each of those points, he said.