People, Countries Impacted by Climate Change Also Vulnerable to Terrorist Recruitment, Violence, Speakers Tell Security Council in Open Debate
Some Member States Argue Nexus between Both Crises Unclear, 15-Nation Organ Not Appropriate Forum to Tackle Issue
Warning that people and countries most vulnerable to climate change also are most vulnerable to terrorist recruitment and violence, nearly 60 speakers in an open debate today told the Security Council that the negative synergy between the two crises threatens to undermine States and international security itself, as the 15-nation organ considered a draft resolution proposed by Niger and Ireland on the matter.
The Council had before it a draft resolution, co-sponsored by Niger (Council President for December) and Ireland, which, by its terms, would request the Secretary-General to integrate climate-related security risk as a central component into comprehensive conflict-prevention strategies of the United Nations, to contribute to the reduction of the risk of conflict relapse due to adverse effects of climate change.
“We are in a race against the clock,” António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, stressed, adding that “no one is safe from the destructive effects of climate disruption”. Highlighting the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C, he pointed to the increasingly extreme meteorological phenomena that is threatening food security and access to resources in Africa and the Middle East.
Regions most vulnerable to climate change often also suffer from poverty, weak governance and terrorist activity, he said, pointing out that of the 15 countries most exposed to climate risks, eight host a United Nations peacekeeping or special political mission, including in Mali where terrorist groups have exploited growing tensions between herders and farmers to recruit, while in Iraq and Syria, Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as Da’esh, has exploited water shortages. Climate change has a multiplier effect on these situations, he said.
Citing Our Common Agenda, he noted that conflicts result from deep societal fractures, causing a loss of hope for the future. He called for a number of measures, in particular with a focus on inclusive governance. “Studies show that when women participate in negotiations, peace is more sustainable. And when they are involved in legislation, they adopt better policies for the environment and social cohesion,” he affirmed.
Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, emphasized that “the exacerbation of the climate situation with droughts is also exacerbating global tensions because of a scarcity of natural resources”, as illustrated by data on the Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin. With a demographic explosion increasing the pressure on scarce resources, these phenomena are creating a fertile breeding ground for non-State actors, including terrorists, who are recruiting and training thousands of young people.
With more than 50 million people living in precarity in the Sahel alone, he also said that the various social, economic and ideological issues bring suffering to thousands of women and girls, who lack appropriate representation in the political sphere. He called on the international community to fight climate change and terrorism and address the interconnection between the two, noting the important role the African Union is playing as Africa invests in mitigating the impact of climate change.
Mamman Nuhu, Executive Secretary of the Lake Chad Basin Commission and Head of the Multinational Joint Task Force, recalled that the basin used to export food products including millet and sorghum, practice livestock herding and fishing, but climate variability, population pressure and insecurity are now constant threats to food security. Young people representing 60 per cent of the population have turned to criminal activities, including a smuggling industry focused on drugs, arms and human trafficking. Additionally, clashes between farmers and herders over destruction of crops and cattle rustling have allowed the Boko Haram ideology to grow.
He described several initiatives, including the Emergency Development Programme for vulnerable groups which, comprises 118 microprojects expected to generate at least 257,000 jobs. However, the operations of the Multinational Joint Task Force, which was established to create a secure environment in areas affected by terrorist activities and facilitate stabilization programmes and humanitarian aid aimed at neutralizing terrorists, are insufficient in the medium- and long-term to eliminate threats of violent extremism.
In the ensuing debate, speakers offered condolences to the families of the victims of terrorist attacks in Niger and Mali this week, reaffirming solidarity and support for the Governments and peoples of the region in their fight against terrorism. Nearly 60 Member States representatives also emphasized the immediacy and urgency of establishing the nexus between climate change and terrorist proliferation.
Mohamed Bazoum, President of Niger and Security Council President for December, speaking in his national capacity, said he chose the debate’s topic to have the Council establish the obvious nexus between peace and security on the one hand and the fight against terrorism and the effects of climate change on the other. The Sahel and Lake Chad regions illustrate the interplay between climate change effects and peace and security, with climate change pushing populations into a fierce competition for scarce resources. It is high time for the Council to adopt the resolution proposed by Niger and Ireland that would finally strengthen its understanding of the impact of climate change on peace and security, he said.
The representative of Kenya said the problem is not convincing the Security Council of the link between climate change effects and resource conflicts that may offer terrorists new opportunities to exploit, but convincing the Council that African crises require and deserve that the 15-nation organ fully live up to its mandate. Stressing that climate change adaptation is the most peace-positive undertaking in regions like the Sahel, he also urged the private sector to design investment-ready projects in line with environmental, social and governance criteria.
Ireland’s representative called climate change the “defining challenge of our time”. Poor Government response to extreme weather events weakens the social contract between citizen and State, providing breeding grounds for terrorist groups in conflict situations. “We have a responsibility, at this Council, to break this vicious and self-reinforcing cycle,” she stressed, urging support for the resolution. Integrating such concerns into conflict resolution, prevention and mediation efforts is imperative, she said, adding: “Failure to do so is unconscionable”.
The representative of Norway said the underlying factor is fragility. Successfully fighting climate change and countering terrorism both depend on promoting good governance and strengthening partnerships with national and regional actors, especially the African Union. Emphasizing that “where vulnerabilities overlap, solutions tend to overlap as well”, she said that peace efforts should be climate-sensitive, climate action should be conflict-sensitive and peacebuilding should be “climate-proof”. Thus, a coordinated approach by the United Nations and the Council is needed.
However, a number of speakers challenged the call to link the issues of climate change and terrorism, as well as the notion that the Security Council was the appropriate forum for such discussions.
India’s representative said climate change was already being dealt with under the mandate of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). A debate in the Security Council has the potential to disrupt discussions on such an important topic. “Let us not deviate from an established and inclusive processes of decision-making with all the developing countries participating,” he said, adding that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report clearly states that the effect of climate variability on violence is contested.
The representative of the Russian Federation said ISIL’s incursion into Africa is related to porous borders and socioeconomic hardship, exacerbated by the pandemic and weak authorities on the ground. Forcing climate change onto peacekeeping operations and detaching it from a scientific approach will have disastrous results. The link between terrorism and climate change is unclear, making it unsuitable for a Council debate, and should be left to other United Nations bodies, including the Economic and Social Council.
The delegate of Brazil called for a cautious stance in approaching climate change from a strict security angle, as it could distance the international community from an adequate response. It is important to avoid duplication of work and to respect specific mandates within the United Nations system. The UNFCCC is properly equipped to discuss and address any specific climate-change concerns in an inclusive, balanced manner. The Security Council’s time and energy would be better spent fostering financial flows to support existing commitments and enhanced climate action.
Fiji’s delegate, however, said future debates on peace and security in the chamber will be informed by how rapidly the world can secure 1.5°C — by far the most important peace and security investment that the international community can make today. New weapons of war are emerging, including selective access to fresh water, resources and areas not threatened by rising sea levels. Many of the Council’s peace interventions are engagements where climate crisis already shapes, exacerbates and defines the contours of conflict. He joined other Member States in calling on the Council to live up to its responsibility at this historic moment, with the speediest possible adoption of the resolution being a good start.
Also speaking were was the President of Estonia, as well as representatives of the United States, France, Mexico, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, China, Viet Nam, United Kingdom, Tunisia, Iran, Japan, Gabon, Egypt, Malta, Philippines, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Germany (for the Group of Friends on Climate and Security), Italy, Portugal, United Arab Emirates, El Salvador, Maldives, Netherlands, Greece, Poland, Albania, Chile, Lebanon, Peru, Qatar, Dominican Republic, Ukraine, Guatemala, Sweden (also for Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Norway), Australia, Ecuador, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Bahrain, Sri Lanka, Republic of Korea, Venezuela, Morocco, Belarus and Uzbekistan.
A representative European Union, in its capacity as observer, also spoke.
The representative of the Russian Federation took the floor for a second time.
The meeting began at 10:08 a.m., suspended at 1:11 p.m., resumed at 3:03 p.m. and ended at 5:56 p.m.
ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary-General of the United Nations, stressed that the international community has no choice but to continue efforts to keep alive the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C. “We are in a race against the clock and no one is safe from the destructive effects of climate disruption,” he said Droughts and increasingly extreme meteorological phenomena are threatening food security and access to scarce resources in Somalia, Madagascar, Sudan, the Middle East and North Africa. The World Food Programme (WFP) estimates that climate change could increase the risk of famine and malnutrition by up to 20 per cent by 2050. Similarly, the World Bank predicts that climate change could lead to the displacement of more than 200 million people in that timeframe. Regions that are most vulnerable to climate change often also suffer from insecurity, poverty, weak governance and the scourge of terrorism. Of the 15 countries most exposed to climate risks, eight host a United Nations peacekeeping or special political mission.
When climate disruption hinders institutions from providing public services, it fuels grievances and mistrust towards authorities, he continued. In the Lake Chad basin region, Boko Haram gained new recruits, particularly from local communities disillusioned by lack of economic opportunity. In central Mali, terrorist groups have exploited the growing tensions between herders and farmers to recruit. Meanwhile, in Iraq and Syria, Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) has exploited water shortages to impose its will on communities, while charcoal production provides a source of income for Al-Shabaab in Somalia. Climate change has a multiplier effect and is an aggravating factor for instability, conflict and terrorism, he said.
Citing his report on Our Common Agenda, he underlined areas requiring deeper collective action. Emphasizing that conflicts result from deep societal fractures, including poverty, human rights violations, poor governance and the collapse of essential public services — and, more broadly, a loss of hope for the future — he called first for a focus on prevention and addressing root causes of insecurity. It is crucial to promote inclusive governance, leverage local expertise and amplify the voices of women and young people everywhere. “Studies show that when women participate in negotiations, peace is more sustainable. And when they are involved in legislation, they adopt better policies for the environment and social cohesion,” he pointed out.
Turning to increasing investments in adaptation and resilience, he said that with annual adaptation costs in developing countries estimated at $70 billion, rising to $300 billion a year by 2030, developed countries must uphold promises to provide at least $100 billion per year to developing countries. He cited the ambitious Great Green Wall initiative, which is reviving degraded landscapes in the Sahel in order to improve food security, create jobs and promote peacebuilding. Further, the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund is investing in innovative initiatives, including addressing water scarcity in Yemen. However, it is still far from reaching critical mass.
He went on to say that, while a third of the global population lacks early warning systems, the Climate Security Mechanism is strengthening the capacity of field missions, country teams and regional and subregional organizations in that domain. He also highlighted the “Regional strategy for the stabilization, recovery and resilience of the Boko Haram-affected areas of the Lake Chad basin region”, jointly developed by the African Union, Lake Chad Basin Commission, United Nations and other partners, to integrate humanitarian action, security, development and climate resilience. Similarly, the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel has launched, in partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). This initiative promotes an integrated and coordinated approach to climate security in the region and supports the Economic Community of West African States, Governments and local authorities in their risk-reduction efforts.
The fight against terrorism and conflict in a climate disruption context requires sustained investment, he stressed. Yet, African peace missions in the Sahel and Somalia face great funding uncertainties. Underlining that African Union peace support operations immediately require Security Council mandates, under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, and predictable funding guaranteed by assessed contributions, he urged Member States to consider this matter again as soon as possible.
MOUSSA FAKI MAHAMAT, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, emphasized: “There can be doubt that the exacerbation of the climate situation with droughts is also exacerbating global tensions because of a scarcity of natural resources.” This is particularly the case for developing countries, illustrated by data on the Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin. There has also been a demographic explosion, which is increasing the pressure on scarce resources. The fight against terrorism and trafficking needs to continue, he said, noting that “This completes a picture that is already rather sombre.”
Scarcity of resources, including water and agrifood resources, is a major issue, he continued. Against this backdrop, he stressed that these phenomena are creating a fertile breeding ground for the flourishing of non-State actors, including terrorists, who are recruiting and training thousands of young people. There are various social, economic and ideological issues at play, making it difficult for States to combat the problem, he said, underscoring that in the Sahel alone there are more than 50 million people living in precarity.
In addition, there are also issues for women who are very often those who work in the fields, he pointed out, spotlighting that all of these problems bring suffering to thousands of women and girls. Additionally, they lack appropriate representation in the political sphere. In terms of climate change, the temperature is not only climbing but varying in a way that is unprecedented. More so, huge fluctuations in movements of people make it difficult to come up with a strategy to combat these issues. To deal with all of this, the solution must come from the international community. It has to fight climate change and terrorism and address the interconnection between the two. Africa is investing in mitigating the impact of climate change, he said, underscoring the important role of the African Union in that regard.
MAMMAN NUHU, Executive Secretary of the Lake Chad Basin Commission and Head of the Multinational Joint Task Force, noted that the Basin previously exported food products, including millet, sorghum, and sweet potato, as well as cash crops like cotton, rice, sesame, and dates, to name a few. Pastoral livestock herding is an ancient practice, with camel and cattle herding in the north and cattle herding in the southern basin. Fishing is practiced for subsistence and commercial purposes. However, climate variability, population pressure and insecurity are now constant threats to food security. Modelling results forecast that, by the end of the century, there will be an increase in mean annual temperature for the central and eastern basin; reduction in available water resources; shorter rainy season; changes in ecosystems; size decrease in areas with sufficiently long growing seasons: and a possible eradication of climate conditions supporting tropical forests.
Criminal activities, mostly among youth, who constitute about 60 per cent of the population, include a smuggling industry focused on drugs, arms and human trafficking, he continued. There are also clashes between farmers and herders over destruction of crops due to increased cattle movement in search of water, cattle rustling, among others. Against this background, Boko Haram ideology was introduced, leading to massive displacement and exacerbating existing water insecurity. The Multinational Joint Task Force was established to create a secure environment in areas affected by terrorist activities and facilitate stabilization programmes and humanitarian operations. However, operations aimed at neutralizing terrorists are insufficient in the medium- and long-term to eliminate threats of violent extremism. Root causes of terrorism will eventually be addressed through the Regional Strategy for the Stabilization, Recovery and Resilience of people affected by Boko Haram insurgency. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) also launched a Regional Stabilisation Facility on 18 July 2019 in Niamey, Niger. The $100 million Facility is intended to provide immediate stabilisation for specific areas cleared of Boko Haram control, but where communities remain vulnerable to continued infiltration and attack.
To help mitigate the effects of climate change and address root causes of insurgency, the Basin Commission and partners have executed humanitarian and development projects to restore means of livelihood, build resilience and restore the environment, he said. The Emergency Development Programme for vulnerable groups comprises 118 microprojects, to be executed within a period of 18 months, is expected to generate at least 257,000 jobs. The 10-year Lake Chad Development and Climate Resilience Action Plan (2016-2025) is designed to turn the Lake into a pole of regional rural development. As well, the Project to Improve the Hydraulic Capacity of the Lake and its Tributaries is intended to increase the capacity of the Lake, reduce water loss through evaporation and damages caused by annual flooding along Rivers Chari and Logone.
MOHAMED BAZOUM, President of Niger and Security Council President for December, speaking in his national capacity, said that his country chose the topic for today’s debate because it desires to see the Council establish the obvious nexus between peace and security on one hand, and the fight against terrorism and effects of climate change on the other. On the heel of the twenty-sixth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26), the Council must capitalize on achieved agreements and strategies to mitigate the effects of climate change within its mandate. The Sahel and Lake Chad regions eloquently illustrate the interplay between climate change effects and peace and security. Climate change disintegrates the social fabric, pushing the populations into a fierce competition for scarce resources.
This in turn leads to intercommunal conflicts with tragic consequences and increased migration, he continued. The situation has also fuelled violent extremism and large-scale crimes, leading to recruitment of young people into the networks of criminal and terrorist organizations. Defeating terrorism in the Sahel requires greater assistance from the international community. If the establishment of a Group of Five for the Sahel (G5 Sahel) Support Office cannot be financed by the United Nations assessed contributions, Niger is ready to work on an alternative initiative. It is high time for the Council to adopt the resolution proposed by Niger and Ireland that would finally endow the organ with an integrated and coordinated approach to strengthen its understanding of the impact of climate change on peace and security. Once adopted, that text will contribute effectively to integrate the consideration of climate risks into the work of peacekeeping and peacebuilding operations as well as into mediation and conflict prevention efforts.
ALAR KARIS, President of Estonia, pointed out that nearly 31 million people were internally displaced in 2020 because of natural disasters caused by extreme weather events and climate change. Persons in vulnerable situations were hit harder. The World Bank recently estimated that the total number of “climate migrants” could be as high as 216 million by 2050. Climate change and environmental degradation prepare the ground for social instability, conflict, terrorism and extremism, and act as threat multipliers for security risks and human rights violations. On this, he highlighted conflict for natural resources within and between States and the desperation of those who have lost their livelihoods, homes, loved ones or hope for a better future. Such circumstances facilitate illegal trade and terrorist organizations’ ability to capitalize on such instability and misery. “This is what we currently witness, for example, at the European borders,” he said.
Against that backdrop, he stressed that “it is time to go beyond the holding of thematic debates”, urging a Security Council resolution on climate and security. The Secretary‑General must receive a mandate to collect data and coordinate policy, and regular reporting would constitute a major step forward towards developing tangible prevention measures. Reiterating that women and girls are disproportionately affected by climate change and are frequently targeted by terrorist groups, he underscored the need for women’s leadership and participation, along with youth engagement, in developing strategies to counter terrorism and the effects of climate change. “This is the only way to build resilient communities for everyone,” he added.
LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD (United States) said climate change is a challenge for every person, nation and continent, and a threat to international peace and security. The Security Council must address this, as it is the only body that can ensure climate change is integrated with other initiatives, including conflict prevention and humanitarian response. Unpredictable and extreme weather makes vital resources even more scarce, spurring desperation and then violence. She noted President Joseph R. Biden commissioned the first ever National Intelligence Estimate on the security implications and released an unclassified report in October, indicating climate change will increase internal conflict, and at its current pace, drive millions from their homes propelling mass migration. Those are the exact populations terrorist groups prey upon; such groups also target critical infrastructure and aid workers. Her Government has launched the President’s Emergency Plan for Adaptation and Resilience and aims to earmark $3 billion in adaptation finance annually by 2024, ensuring that every dollar goes as far as possible in vulnerable communities. Drawing attention to the climate effects in Africa, she stressed “the debate is over”, and the Council must use its unique powers to address the issue head-on. She encouraged all States to co-sponsor and support the draft resolution on climate and security.
NICOLAS DE RIVIÈRE (France) said that the climate emergency increases security risks and represents a permanent danger to the world. The connection between climate change and insecurity is solidly established; it is seen in the Horn of Africa, Sahel, and the Middle East, where it impacts access to water and natural resources and allows armed groups to prosper. In the Sahel, climate change impacts on agropastoral systems allow terrorist groups to instrumentalize inter-ethnic and economic conflict, he said, calling for natural resources to be better allocated. Noting that the $19 billion Great Green Wall for the Sahara and the Sahel Initiative will restore degraded land, create 10 million jobs and capture 250 million tons of carbon, he called on more support to be lent to regional and subregional organizations such as the G5 Sahel, to strengthen their response to climate change impacts. The Council’s unity and spirit of compromise are essential in the face of climate change, which is a major test for multilateralism calling for coordinated action. There must be a better understanding of the way climate change and crises feed one another, so that States and their resilience can be reinforced, and an overreliance on peacekeepers can be avoided, he said.
JUAN RAMÓN DE LA FUENTE RAMÍREZ (Mexico) said that today’s meeting builds on the analyses that the Security Council has been developing with regard to the impacts of climate change and the actions that it can take to address related security risks. The climate crisis has the potential to broaden the causes of conflict in general. In order to make the preventive work of the Security Council in this area more effective, the international community needs to better understand the contexts that lead to the radicalization of individuals or groups. Referring to sea level rise, he said that this can lead to the loss of Statehood in cases where the territory of an island nation ends up being totally covered by sea or becomes an unviable place to live. This gives rise to questions of protection, evacuation and relocation of people to places abroad, as well as the human rights of those displaced. All of these are elements that the international system must bear in mind, he said, noting that the International Law Commission was currently studying sea level rise in this regard. The concept of security now includes environmental and natural resource security. The illicit trafficking in natural resources and the loss of biodiversity are triggers for violence, he warned.
INGA RHONDA KING (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) said urgent multilateral action is clearly needed, as the social and economic costs of the COVID-19 pandemic multiply, more lives and livelihoods are disrupted globally by climate change, and the consequences of terrorism escalate. “Our decisions now will define the social, economic and political realities of the post-pandemic era,” she said. Pointing out that countries most subjected to the security risks of climate change and terrorism tend to be underdeveloped and have a history of colonialism, she called for comprehensive development plans and strategies that reinforce sovereignty, rebuild public trust, restore social contracts and promote peace and prosperity. Relying on militaristic means or a narrow economic calculus will prove elusive and illusory, she said, calling on the international community to work together to deliver on existing agreements, particularly the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Further, developed countries and international financial institutions should scale up overseas development assistance (ODA) and capacity-building initiatives. The draft resolution can bolster a comprehensive approach on addressing the multi-dimensional challenges posed by climate change.
GERALDINE BYRNE NASON (Ireland), calling climate change the “defining challenge of our time”, said it exacerbates existing inequalities and insecurities and acutely impacts those already living in poverty and in conflict. Poor Government response to extreme weather events weakens the social contract between citizen and State, providing breeding grounds for terrorist groups in conflict situations. “We have a responsibility, at this Council, to break this vicious and self-reinforcing cycle,” she stressed. Regarding the impact of climate change on regions, including the Lake Chad Basin, she underlined the need for more empirical analysis to facilitate decisive action and called for an end to the misuse of counter-terrorism laws to stigmatize and criminalize environmental human rights defenders and civil society organizations working on climate change issues. Noting that the 13 Council products this year have included language on the adverse impacts of climate change, she called for a more structured and systematic approach to prevent and resolve conflicts exacerbated by climate change. Calling for Council members to support a climate security advisor in South Sudan through the United Nations Climate Security Mechanism, she also urged support for the Niger and Ireland-led thematic Security Council resolution addressing climate-related security risks within its mandate. Underlining the need to integrate such concerns into conflict resolution, prevention and mediation efforts, she stressed: “failure to do so is unconscionable.”
MONA JUUL (Norway), said that climate change can accelerate the factors identified as underlying drivers of terrorism — including displacement, weakened governance, food insecurity and resource competition. Combined, these can create fertile ground for radicalization and recruitment. “The underlying factor is fragility,” she stressed, as climate change undermines communities’ ability to cope with crises. Successfully fighting climate change and countering terrorism both depend on promoting good governance and reducing vulnerabilities. To this end, she urged, inter alia, the meaningful inclusion of all affected stakeholders and the strengthening of partnerships with national and regional actors, especially the African Union. Emphasizing that “where vulnerabilities overlap, solutions tend to overlap as well”, she said that peace efforts should be climate-sensitive, climate action should be conflict-sensitive and peacebuilding should be “climate-proof”. A coordinated approach by the United Nations and the Council is needed, she stressed, adding support for a resolution on climate and security.
VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) stressed the need to protect nations from climate change’s negative effects through global efforts, beginning with the United Nations development system. The Office of Counter-Terrorism can provide technical assistance at the request of local authorities, considering specific needs. ISIL’s incursion into Africa is related to porous borders and socioeconomic hardship, exacerbated by the COVID‑19 pandemic and weak authorities on the ground, with conditions particularly severe in the Sahel. Underscoring the need to examine each country or region individually for causes of instability, he said these may include lack of outside assistance when local institutions are unable to cope. But forcing climate change onto peacekeeping operations, moving the focus from poverty and weak institutions, politicizing and detaching it from a scientific approach, will have disastrous results. Adding that the link between terrorism and climate is unclear, thus making it unsuitable for a Council debate, he said discussion of the phenomenon should be left to other relevant United Nations bodies, including the Economic and Social Council.
T.S. TIRUMURTI (India) said it is not appropriate to draw a separate link between security and climate change especially when all aspects of climate change are already being dealt with, holistically, under the mandate of UNFCCC. A debate in the Security Council, ignoring basic principles and provisions relating to climate change, has the potential to disrupt overall discussions on this important topic. To move the climate change discourse from a consensus-driven template to a possibly divisive process may not be advisable. “Let us not deviate from an established and inclusive processes of decision-making with all the developing countries participating,” he said. Further, while recognizing the fact that climate change has impacted lives and exacerbated conflicts in many places, he stressed that viewing conflicts only through the prism of climate change presents a myopic perspective. The report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change clearly states that the effect of climate variability on violence is contested. There is also no clear scientific pronouncement directly equating climate change with security concerns. Oversimplification of causes of conflict will not help in resolving them nor can it justify terrorist acts or extreme policy measures, he said.
ZHANG JUN (China), observing that terrorism is a real threat to Africa, in particular the Sahel, expressed support for the joint counter-terrorism operations by Niger and its other countries in the subregion. He also advocated for sustainable and predictable funding and logistics assistance for such activities. However, the military approach is not sufficient, he pointed out, highlighting the need for the international community to help address the root causes of conflict, including food insecurity. He also called on developed countries to honour their commitments to support developing States by providing financial assistance, transferring technology and helping them with national capacity-building. The Security Council should consider security risks driven by climate change, based on country-by-country or situation-by-situation analysis. In addition, he stressed the need to respect common but differentiated responsibility for addressing the effects of climate change.
HAI ANH PHAM (Viet Nam) pointed out that half of the twenty countries considered most vulnerable to climate change find themselves on the agenda of the Security Council. Some situations, including in the Sahel region, are fraught with threats of terrorism and climate change, environmental degradation and depletion of natural resources. He called on States not to allow terrorist groups to exploit the tensions and grievances exacerbated by climate change to further erode State governance, increase recruitment, radicalize disenfranchised people, drawing them to violent extremism. Urging a holistic approach at both global and national levels to address all aspects of these issues, he stressed that inclusivity is the key to ensure the active participation of vulnerable countries, communities, groups, women and youth. Emphasizing the need to adequately invest in anticipation and resilience, he also underscored that equality should be ensured by equity through international cooperation and solidarity. No single country can deal with those threats along, especially climate change, he said.
BARBARA WOODWARD (United Kingdom) stressed that many of the nations most affected by the climate change are also among the world’s most fragile. The impacts of climate change act as a multiplier of the threats already facing vulnerable populations. Further, countries enduring conflict are hit especially hard. With institutions under pressure, communities displaced and societies insecure, these nations are less equipped to cope with the impacts of climate change. Pointing to situations in the Sahel region, in Iraq and Syria, she called on States to take actions, recalling the ambitious commitments made by States during the Climate Change Conference in Glasgow this year, including doubling adaptation finance and meeting the $100 billion goal by 2023 the latest. She also stressed the need for the United Nations system to report comprehensively on the links between climate and security. In that regard, the Council’s Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate should continue to examine the conditions and environments in which terrorism develops and thrives.
MARTIN KIMANI (Kenya), underscoring that the phenomenon is exacting its greatest costs in countries least responsible for causing it, highlighted the lack of ambitious climate change adaption in Africa. The problem is not convincing the Security Council that there is a link between climate change effects and resource conflicts that may offer terrorists new opportunities to exploit. It is convincing the Council that African crises require and deserve that the Council fully live up to its mandate. ”We need the Security Council to provide solutions that respond to the challenge, not other factors,” he said Climate change adaptation is the most peace-positive undertaking in regions like the Sahel. In that regard, the private sector must design investment-ready projects in line with environmental, social and governance criteria, he said, adding that capacity-building is needed to identify and prepare these projects. Effective counter-terrorism will not emerge from climate action; it is rooted in competent security services actively integrating efforts to address the scourge with neighbouring countries. The Security Council must understand that regional capabilities require international financing or United Nations peacekeeping will fail to prevent State collapse in multiple countries. A State must also be capable of supporting local livelihood uplift, he said, emphasizing that climate adaptation can play a vital role in this arena.
TAREK LADEB (Tunisia) recalled his country’s consistent urging that root causes linked to conflict be addressed through a multilateral, holistic approach based on the concept of collective security, along with innovative mechanisms capable of addressing common, transboundary challenges. Climate change deepens vulnerability and instability, fuels tension and violence and leads to protracted conflict, especially in Africa. He stressed the need to abandon context-based approaches, and instead include climate dangers systematically in the Council’s efforts to maintain international peace and security. To this end, he supported the practical suggestions in today’s draft resolution, and expressed hope that it will be adopted unanimously to send a clear, strong message. He also pointed out that, although climate change is an international phenomenon, some regions have been affected more than others, particularly in the Sahel. People in these areas are struggling to adapt to shocks reverberating from climate change, and he stressed the need to consider development and capacity-building when addressing the security repercussions of these changes to prevent a descent into a spiral of violence and conflict.
MAJID TAKHT RAVANCHI (Iran) said that although his country has taken significant steps to address and mitigate the negative impacts of climate change, the United States’ imposition of unlawful sanctions against Iran has prevented its access to much needed financial resources and technology to tackle challenges associated with climate change. That country has also adversely affected Iran’s national capacities to carry out undertakings in that regard. While terrorism constitutes a serious threat to international peace and security, climate change is a development issue, he stressed, adding that there is no scientific evidence establishing a direct link between climate change and international peace and security. Noting that climate change could create a conducive environment for terrorist groups to exploit the situation and recruit vulnerable people, he said Member States must be extremely cautious about establishing a linkage between international peace and security and climate change. Addressing the underlying causes is imperative. To that end, all Member States must adhere to their respective obligations based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.
OSUGA TAKESHI (Japan) said in conflict-prone areas, human insecurity, exacerbated by climate issues, becomes a multiplier of violent conflict. He urged the international community to pay more attention to the human dimension of the security paradigm. Both terrorism and climate change should be addressed through institutions at the local and national levels, as they are most effective in preventing security risks, with their impartiality in the security and justice domains being key in establishing the rule of law and fighting impunity. This year, Japan provided $3 million apiece to Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad to build capacity and, since 2013, has provided aid to seven countries in West Africa and the Sahel to establish credible criminal justice institutions by training police, prosecutors and judges. Capacity-building is integral in strengthening institutions, he affirmed, adding that those in the social sector must further address the deep-rooted cause of terrorism. After setting up a primary education programme in Niger in 2004, his Government has built or improved 53,000 schools in eight African countries, and will continue to support those States most severely affected by climate change in Africa, Asia-Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean.
RONALDO COSTA FILHO (Brazil) pointed out that the depletion of resources — aggravated by severe drought — is exacerbating tensions and forcing migration, particularly in the Sahel. Extreme events such as this can devastate social groups and disrupt production systems and local economies, creating a breeding ground for dangerous social consequences such as the emergence of terrorist threats. However, he spotlighted his country’s cautious stance in approaching climate change from a strict security angle. This could distance the international community from an adequate response. Highlighting the need to avoid duplication of work and to respect specific mandates and responsibilities within the United Nations system, he said that UNFCCC is properly equipped to discuss and address any specific climate-change concerns in an inclusive, balanced manner. Time and energy diverted to reallocate the climate agenda to the Security Council would be better spent fostering financial flows to support existing commitments and enhanced climate action, he said.
MICHEL XAVIER BIANG (Gabon) emphasized the links between terrorism and climate change, which are amplifying tensions and crises in many regions of the world, particularly in Africa. Noting that on 9 March, the African Union demonstrated the negative effects of climate change and the threat they represent to peace, security and stability on the continent, he said climate change amplifies the propensity for violence and conflict, leaving poor communities less resilient and leading to an increase in political instability, economic weakness, food insecurity and large-scale migration. The Sahel must be at the heart of political action, he said, calling for commensurate logistical, material and financial support to be extended to the G5 Sahel joint force.
OSAMA MAHMOUD ABDELKHALEK MAHMOUD (Egypt) said, as transboundary global challenges, the nexus between climate change-related repercussions — water scarcity, rising sea levels, desertification, land degradation and biodiversity loss — and other terrorism-conducive conditions — poverty and unemployment — provides fertile ground for recruitment and radicalization by terrorist groups, a multidimensional human security threat. With Africa facing unprecedented pressure due to extreme weather events, including flash floods and severe droughts, the recent rise of terrorist activities in different regions are a vivid example of how those groups exploit the crisis to expand their activities and operations. Efforts to combat terrorism and address climate change should be harmonized to strengthen and consolidate action, thereby having a preventative effect for developing countries. In some complex situations, purely technical approaches to adaptation will fail to address the socioeconomic variables that contribute to conflicts. Therefore, he called for conflict-sensitive adaptation, including multidisciplinary projects to build comprehensive resilience against the impacts of climate change and the related security threats.
VANESSA FRAZIER (Malta) noting an increase in attacks and terrorism activity with a particular upward trend in Africa during the past year, pointed out that the twenty-sixth Conference of the Parties in Glasgow reinforced the notion that climate change is a “threat multiplier”. Terrorist activity, especially in the Sahel region, can also be linked to climatic factors, which can adversely impact natural resources through floods or droughts, thereby exacerbating competition over dwindling resources, often leading to unrest and eventually a vacuum for terrorist groups to exploit. To fully address the interplay between climate change and terrorism, she called on States to focus on poverty eradication and sustained economic growth, pointing to the higher likelihood that individuals could join terrorist groups potentially for an alternate source of income. Also stressing the importance of creating the conditions on the ground which are conducive to women’s and girls’ full, equal and meaningful participation, she noted that Malta will place climate and security among its priority themes if entrusted to serve on the Council in 2023-2024.
ENRIQUE AUSTRIA MANALO (Philippines) noted that his country considers the climate-security nexus as a vital existential issue. Climate change combined with terrorism can worsen long existing tensions and exacerbate traditional drivers of conflict such as poverty, political instability, ill-conceived domestic policies and foreign interference. To deal with the issue, he stressed the importance of developing better risk assessment and mitigation strategies for climate-related disasters, reiterating his country’s national goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 75 per cent by 2030. Highlighting the indispensable role of international cooperation, he pointed out the need to harness international law, as the impact of climate change on statehood and security is far-reaching. Emphasizing that climate-vulnerable countries like his own should receive the support and resources from those most responsible for the climate crisis, he underscored the need to fortify structures and correct vulnerabilities that are first impacted by climate-related events. By not doing so, non-State actors such as terrorists may take advantage of these vulnerabilities. It is also critical that all Member States be involved in deciding the relevant mechanisms and legal frameworks to be put in place, he noted.
PASCALE CHRISTINE BAERISWYL (Switzerland), associating herself with the Group of Friends on Climate and Security, said that the adoption of a thematic resolution would provide the Security Council a coherent framework for action. As natural hazards reinforced by climate change are already causing great disruption, the Council should actively address the security implications of climate change and its actions must be based on international law and the rule of law. Welcoming the integration of the effects of climate change into the mandates of several peacekeeping and special political missions, she said that security risks related to climate change should be adequately and more systematically integrated into peace operation mandates, as well as in the context of transitions and withdrawals of operations. To that end, the Council should further capitalize on the resources available within the United Nations system and on the advisory role of the Peacebuilding Commission. Noting the Council’s role in breaking the vicious cycle of conflict and the emergence of terrorism and violent extremism, she said measures to combat terrorism must be designed and implemented in strict compliance with international law, particularly human rights and international humanitarian law. Moreover, the Council must ensure that such measures do not negatively impact humanitarian activities.
OLIVIER MAES (Luxembourg) noted that an increasing number of scientific studies show a link between reduced resources and a spike in violent conflicts. Climate change is exacerbating this by contributing to a scarcity of fertile land and water resources. In increasingly fragile environments, access to water and intact ecosystems are vital in reducing poverty and promoting sustainable development. Stressing the importance of inclusive and equitable governance of natural resources, he said this would allow nations to fight terrorism more effectively. Luxembourg is working with Niger to build its public water service capacity by strengthening local institutions, he said, urging the Council to seriously heed the effect of climate change on peace and security.
ANTJE LEENDERTSE (Germany), speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends on Climate and Security, strongly welcomed the Council’s increasing attention to the threat of climate change. While the world came together at the twenty-sixth Conference of the Parties in Glasgow, which was a milestone, the climate is already changing, and the world must prepare for the related negative effects. More must be done to increase countries’ abilities to adapt to the impact of climate change and prevent its effects from contributing to the destabilization of States and regions, as this situation risks contributing, in specific contexts, to new armed conflicts, worsening existing conflicts and helping to create a breeding ground for violent extremism and terrorism. The Council has a crucial role to play, she said, emphasizing that a concerted effort is needed.
Pointing to the African Union’s strong engagement and the recent Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) landmark decision, she said the entire United Nations system must address this challenge, in all relevant forums and within all relevant mandates. The Secretary-General’s report, Our Common Agenda, rightly calls for an increased focus on the effects of climate change on peace and security. Welcoming progress in the Council, including recognizing the effects of climate change when considering peacekeeping and special political mission mandates, she said more must be done to ensure a structured approach creates the necessary tools to enable the United Nations to do its part in preventing and resolving conflicts that are, at least in part, driven by the effects of climate change. Urging the Council to swiftly adopt the thematic resolution, she said doing so would provide a much-needed framework to translate proposals repeatedly made by the Group of Friends into tangible action that will enhance the United Nations risk analysis, capacity-building and operational response. The Council must live up to its primary responsibility under the Charter to address threats to international peace and security, and should adopt a resolution that will allow it to address related threats that climate change poses and will increasingly pose, she said.
SILVIO GONZATO, representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, stressed the linkages of climate and security with that of gender inequality. He also underlined the imperative to include young people in the discussions and decision-making processes, as they feel the effects of climate change the most. He called for the development of a comprehensive information basis to fully integrate short- and long-term climate and environmental risk factors in the assessment and management of threats to peace and security, including the radicalization to terrorism and violent extremism at country, regional and international levels. To that end, he reiterated the bloc’s support for the adoption of a Security Council resolution on the matter.
The European Union is enhancing adaptive capacity, strengthening resilience and reducing vulnerability to climate change with a new, more ambitious strategy on adaptation adopted earlier this year, he continued. The bloc also is committed in adopting preventive measures such as early warning systems, which is evident in the Concept for an Integrated Approach on Climate Change and Security adopted recently. On Africa, he pointed out that climate change mitigation and environmental protection measures are structural preconditions to tackle one of the root causes of insecurity in the Sahel region, the Lake Chad region and the Horn of Africa. As well, policymaking should be based on evidence, he said, highlighting the importance of analysing the correlation between climatic factors and terrorism, and ensuring policies account for the experiences of communities most at risk and are not counterproductive.
MAURIZIO MASSARI (Italy), associating himself with the Group of Friends on Climate and Security, said the Council must heighten its attention on the issue, as climate change consequences are reducing capacities of populations to cope with shocks, leading some to migrate and creating fertile ground for terrorism to spread. In Africa, terrorist activities are becoming more frequent in countries affected by desertification and other climate-related conditions. For its part, Italy contributes to several global programmes aimed at rebuilding communities affected by terrorism by, among other things, addressing the root causes. A holistic approach must ensure mandates are discharged in effective ways, he said, adding that Italy supports a strengthened focus on climate change, starting with the Council.
FRANCISCO DUARTE LOPES (Portugal) expressed support for the adoption of a cross-cutting resolution on climate and security, as put forward by Ireland and Niger. Peacebuilding efforts should be designed to strengthen countries’ capacities to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change, he said, adding that the mandates of peacekeeping operations and special political missions should continue to assess climate-related security risks and devise appropriate responses, including conflict prevention tools, and consider climate risks across early warning and planning processes. Further, efforts must be made to reduce the environmental footprint of peacekeeping operations. He also encouraged the inclusion of the climate-security nexus in the Council’s agenda, with a particular focus on the women, youth, peace and security agendas.
MOHAMED ISSA ABUSHAHAB (United Arab Emirates) said that there is a connection — even if indirect — between climate impacts and the feelings of helplessness, resentment and loss of faith in governance systems that contribute to terrorist recruitment. Given this transnational threat, enhanced data collection and climate security analysis would help guide the Security Council and other actors in their response to threats. He stressed, however, that reporting and resources must be prioritized for situations in which climate is clearly relevant. The Council’s climate-action and counter-terrorism efforts must also be sensitive to gender and age. Quotas, gender and youth advisors, gender and age markers and women and youth advisory boards are all proven tools from United Nations peace missions that ensure inclusion. Stressing the link between the collapse of fragile, food-producing communities and increased insecurity, he said Member States should encourage relevant actors to increase their budgeting and programming for these communities. He also added his support for a consensus-based resolution on climate security.
EGRISELDA ARACELY GONZÁLEZ LÓPEZ (El Salvador) said that her country is no stranger to the negative effects of climate change on the environment, food security, economic development and quality of life. If these challenges are not properly addressed, they can lead to violence and political instability. She emphasized that — while tackling climate change and combatting terrorism may seem like separate issues at first glance – they are linked, as many conflict-affected areas must also combat droughts, floods, cyclones and forest fires. Expressing concern over the suffering generated by terrorist groups and transnational criminal organizations — particularly amongst women, children, migrants and those with disabilities — she called for international cooperation to seek tangible solutions to such devastating facts. Further, she recommended that the links between climate change, socioeconomic realities and international security be studied and accounted for during the review of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, as well as when establishing peacekeeping mandates.
THILMEEZA HUSSAIN (Maldives) said her country, an aggregation of over 1,200 small low-lying islands in the Indian Ocean, with their highest elevation only six feet above sea level, is on the front lines of climate change. Emphasizing the centrality of ocean, fisheries, coral reefs and beaches to Maldives’ economy, she underscored that climate change “puts our very existence at stake”. Climate change is imperilling tourism and fisheries and biodiversity that makes up 80 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) and 90 per cent of exports. “What world will our children inherit?” she wondered, adding that small countries face an unbearable burden that disproportionately impacts women and children. Noting that climate change, added to the aftermaths of a terrorist attack, plays a role in leaving many people despondent and vulnerable, she said her country has taken a whole-of-society approach: empowering communities, increasing resilience and addressing hate speech and xenophobia. Youth need opportunities, because a bleak future leads to disillusionment and the risk of rising extremism. If the current issues related to climate change and terrorism continue, “we will face a future of increasing violence and the possible breakdown of societies,” she stressed. She therefore welcomed the resolution initiated by Niger and Ireland, an essential step in capturing the important work of the Council on the nexus of climate and security.
MARK ZELLENRATH (Netherlands), associating himself with the European Union and the Group of Friends on Climate and Security, said the Council has an important role to play in more effectively and systematically addressing climate-related security challenges. Climate change will hit already disenfranchised and marginalized communities more severely than others, he said, underlining the need to better understand whether this may lead to even more favourable conditions for terrorists to recruit and radicalize individuals. Climate considerations must be integrated in the Council’s work by focusing on holistic prevention approaches that include wider peacebuilding efforts and helping communities and States to build resilience and adapt to climate change consequences. As there is still much unknown about the causation between climate change and terrorist attacks, he said that supporting rigorous analyses is crucial to better understand where an investment in climate solutions can help to reduce the range of factors involved when individuals consider joining or supporting violent extremist groups. To this end, the Netherlands and Germany are organizing a conference in February to examine emerging dynamics of violent extremism in West Africa, he said, also adding that his delegation welcomes the thematic draft resolution.
MARIA THEOFILI (Greece), citing national efforts to tackle catastrophic forest fires, diminishing water resources and progressively prolonged seasonal droughts and floods which threaten agriculture, fisheries and tourism, said the Government recently created the new Climate Crisis Ministry and continues to focus on concrete steps at local to global levels. A holistic approach must address cross-cutting climate and security challenges and integrate and combine actions and policies with the United Nations playing a central role. Upgrading the current knowledge base will lead to improved risk assessment and more effective field-level policies; climate security concerns must be integrated into early warning and conflict prevention systems to avoid future crises. More extensive fact-finding research is also needed to establish connections between the rising scope of extremist groups and adverse climatic events affecting the same regions, especially in Africa and the Sahel. “We should not let entire communities in the most vulnerable countries become prey to the inflammatory rhetoric of terrorist and extremist groups,” she declared, highlighting regional mechanisms, such as the Nouakchott process and the operationalization of the African Peace and Security Architecture in the Sahelo-Saharan region.
KRZYSZTOF MARIA SZCZERSKI (Poland), associating himself with the European Union and the Group of Friends on Climate and Security, said recent years have shown that in many cases, drivers of terrorism — and of conflicts in general — are the deteriorating environmental conditions caused by climate change. The nexus between climate change, poverty and terrorism is particularly visible in developing countries with fragile State institutions. Commending the wide range of United Nations counter-terrorism activities and efforts despite the pandemic, he said a multidisciplinary, multi-agency and integrated approach is essential. The challenges of climate change, instability and terrorism must be at the core of the international community’s joint efforts, which require a two-pillar approach: fighting terrorism on the ground and fighting its sources, including climate change consequences. Indeed, the entire United Nations system must address the issue of climate and security in all relevant fora, he said, adding that Poland continues to support the inclusion of the climate and security nexus in the Council’s formal work. Joining the call of many delegations speaking today for concrete, tangible actions to be considered by the Security Council, he said the adoption of the thematic resolution would serve as an important and very much welcomed step. Recalling Poland’s upcoming Chairmanship of the Organization for the Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), he said the intergovernmental organization’s new Ministerial Decision on strengthening cooperation to address the challenges caused by the climate change confirms that it is possible to find a consensual approach to an issue that may negatively affect prosperity, stability and security in the region.
FERIT HOXHA (Albania), highlighting several concerns, said the annual report of the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate cited an increased number of cases of recruitment by ISIL, Al-Qaida and Boko Haram of individuals from families living in bad environmental conditions. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has shown that climate disruption caused by human activities is widespread and intensifying. Concrete action must be taken to address climate change and the related risks in the context of international peace and security, with the Council and the United Nations system playing a greater role in addressing these challenges. The Council should fully integrate the knowledge of climate-related risks into all aspects of its work, he said, expressing hope it will adopt the landmark draft resolution. Doing so would show that the Security Council is there when people and the world need it. Climate-related security risks to international peace and security are real and increasing, he said, adding that Albania has defined the issue as one of its priorities in the Security Council.
RENÉ ALFONSO RUIDÍAZ PÉREZ (Chile) said the speeding up of climate change has irreversible consequences, including the exacerbation of international conflicts, jeopardizing food security and sparking migration flows, which particularly impact less protected zones. He called for climate change to be tackled in a multidimensional fashion, adding: “Multilateral action is indispensable; national efforts will be in vain without it.” He underscored the need for international judicial cooperation to combat impunity regarding terrorist acts. He underlined the need for more research to be carried out to flesh out the evidence base on the relationship between climate change and peacekeeping, with a particular focus on vulnerable regions and groups. Chile is presently considering a report which considers the link between security and climate change, and its 2017 national code incorporates climate change.
AMAL MUDALALLI (Lebanon) said climate change particularly impacts countries already strongly affected by economic and social challenges. This is the case in the Horn of Africa, where climate induced events are driving people out of their homes and villages and leading to threats of social upheaval and instability. Citing an article on climate change impacts in sub-Saharan Africa, where 40 per cent of internal displacement in 2019 was due to natural disasters, she said climate change fuels instability and pushes more poverty and marginalization, seeding grievances exploited by terrorists. The Security Council should work towards ensuring that conflict prevention and peacebuilding approaches increasingly integrate climate considerations into their strategies. Therefore, coordination between the Council and the Peacebuilding Commission could be enhanced, by including climate security in the latter’s agenda. She expressed support for taking concrete action on climate security, adding that Lebanon co-sponsored the draft resolution prepared by Niger and Ireland, which she hoped will be soon adopted by the Council.
LUIS UGARELLI (Peru), noting that the world is marked by an increase in climate change-related violence, stressed the need to protect civilian from terrorist threats and their consequences to ecosystems and food security. Regional organizations, civil society and international organizations must coordinate in preventing such atrocities, given that they can cross borders with devastating effects. Collective peace and security are also faced with new risks related to organized crime, with transnational networks often having links to terrorism. Scarcity or limited access to natural resources often trigger conflicts, he said, adding that inclusive pluralism is also needed to reduce threats from racism, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance.
ALYA AHMED SAIF AL-THANI (Qatar) said her country has stepped up counter-terrorism efforts, including enhanced partnerships to tackle financial flows and address its multifaceted threats and links to trafficking and other crimes. Regarding climate change, Qatar has adopted a range of initiatives, including a global dryland alliance and national adaptation and mitigation efforts. Fighting climate change and its consequences will be the focus of the forthcoming United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries in January, hosted by Qatar, she said, commending the Council for considering the threats of climate change as it fulfils its mandate.
JOSÉ ALFONSO BLANCO CONDE (Dominican Republic), noting the existence of evidence demonstrating the reality of the negative effects of climate change, said that the potential for these effects to transform into a root cause of conflict is becoming ever clearer. The Council cannot turn its back on this situation as, apart from its primary responsibility to ensure international peace and security, it can also demonstrate how the entire United Nations system should integrate into its work addressing and preventing factors that generate armed conflict. Calling for a better flow of systematic, contextualized information from the Secretary-General, he said that today’s draft resolution is both a historic opportunity and a great responsibility, opening the way to impactful action in line with realities on the ground. As such, he called on all Council members to seize this opportunity to make the Council more relevant and better prepared for timely action.
YURIY VITRENKO (Ukraine) said his country has first-hand experience of how evil terrorism can be, with Russian armed aggression leading to a sharp increase of terrorist threats in the occupied territories and throughout the country. Combating the activities of individual terrorists and terrorist groups will be insufficient if the problem of State-sponsored terrorism is not addressed in a robust and comprehensive way, he said, before going on to condemn the Russian oppression of Crimean Tatar activists, human rights defenders and journalists in occupied Crimea in the pretext of counterterrorism measures. Further, the militarization of Donbas has an adverse impact for the ecosystem of the peninsula and adjacent waters. The continued aggression in Donbas also adversely affects the environment, he said, citing the recent shutdown of coal mines in the region, which led to volley emissions of mine gases and flooding of mines and nearby areas. However, the occupation makes it impossible to address the environment-and climate-related risks in these territories, he said.
LUIS ANTONIO LAM PADILLA (Guatemala) said the international community is at a turning point in guaranteeing international peace and security, not only because of the pandemic and its socioeconomic repercussions, but also due to the devastating effects of climate change, which threatens to drive migration and displacement. Unfortunately, the Sahel region and many parts of Central America and the Caribbean also face the added scourge of terrorism and its links to organized crime. The Council must address the issue, protect the most vulnerable, and implement humanitarian actions to build resilient communities. He underscored the potentially dangerous link between organized transnational crime, terrorism, and the illicit use of financial assets. His region is impacted by illicit drug trafficking, which has resulted in the destruction of forests that have been transformed into clandestine runways for loading and unloading narcotics. As climate change can drive conflicts over food security and water, preventing those linkages must be a priority for Security Council resolutions, he said.
ANNA KARIN ENESTRÖM (Sweden), also speaking for Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Norway, pointed out that transnational environmental crime generates an estimated 38 per cent of financing for non-State armed groups, representing their largest source of income. Armed groups also are increasingly capitalizing on climate-related disasters and livelihood losses to increase their recruitment pool. United Nations missions and resident coordinators must play an active role in addressing local climate and security-related risks and reporting to the Council. To understand the security risks of climate change, stakeholders must look at a longer-term timescale, with close cooperation among national weather services, regional climate centres and the World Meteorological Organization.
Noting that 6 of the 10 largest United Nations missions operate in counties that are among those most exposed to climate change, she said research shows the importance of integrating a climate change lens into peacekeeping and peacebuilding. A recurrent report from the Secretary-General on the security implications of the adverse effects of climate change could form the basis of regular Council debates, she added, voicing strong support for the adoption of the thematic resolution. How the world decides to act today on the risk of climate change will determine the prospects for peaceful societies and human security for millions of people in the coming decades, she said, stressing that common challenges need a common understanding, solidarity and strong multilateral institutions for a secure and sustainable future.
FIONA WEBSTER (Australia) described climate change as a threat multiplier, indirectly escalating the risk of conflict through mechanisms such as food and water insecurity, economic shocks and human mobility. She called for global cooperation in reducing emissions, investing in mitigation and adaptation strategies, and building social and economic resilience. Such efforts are key to conflict prevention in some countries including those in the Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin regions, where political, social and environmental vulnerabilities intersect. Referring to the Boe Declaration signed by the Pacific Islands Forum countries, which acknowledges that climate change remains the single greatest threat to their peoples, she noted that her country is working with partners to establish the Pacific Fusion Centre in Vanuatu. Recognizing the need for global and national efforts to reduce emissions and limit warming, she pointed out that finalizing the Rulebook for the Paris Agreement at the twenty-sixth Conference of the Parties in Glasgow was a significant step forward.
ANDRÈS MONTALVO (Ecuador) reiterated his country’s call, made during the debate convened by Ireland on climate and security on 24 September, for peacekeeping operations to be provided with technical capabilities and mandates to assess climate-related security risks. Recalling that a week ago marked the seventeenth anniversary of the report of the High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Changes, convened by then-Secretary-General Kofi Annan, he noted that it recognized that infectious diseases, environmental degradation and war are mutually reinforcing. The catastrophic impacts of climate change displace populations and weaken the social fabric, leading to socioeconomic deterioration, fostering conditions for violent extremism and organized crime to thrive, he said, adding that Ecuador supports the draft resolution by sponsored by Niger and Ireland on climate and security, which constitutes an important step towards the inclusion of this important agenda.
SEYDOU SINKA (Burkina Faso) said that terrorism and climate change are threats that have led to a security and humanitarian crisis in Africa. Civilians, particularly women and children, are paying the highest price. Populations are facing the pernicious effect of climate change through natural disasters, drought, dust storms and significant losses to biodiversity. Globally, there is a rise in temperatures as well as the emergence of extreme weather phenomena. Climate change is a source of instability, which causes and exacerbates conflict between communities for paltry resources, including water management and access to pastureland. Armed groups are undermining States in impacted areas, making access to basic social services even more difficult. In Burkina Faso, more than a million people were forced to flee their homes because of terrorist threats. Insecurity caused by terrorism and climate change are a serious threat to international peace and security, he said, urging the Security Council to support existing programmes and mechanisms including the efforts of the G5 Sahel and individual nations.
The representative of the Russian Federation, taking the floor a second time to respond to a previous statement, expressed concern over difficulties the Sahel is facing. However, his country is against generic discussions in the Security Council that can be politicized. Ukraine’s delegate made that mistake, he said, using any Council meeting as an excuse to push forward its warped picture of the world, where the Russian Federation is responsible for all ills. “I’m sure everybody is fed up with that,” he said, noting that this can be seen in today’s General Assembly vote, which has nothing to do with the real situation in Ukraine. Despite Kyiv’s efforts, it achieved less than one third of the vote, he added, urging implementation of the Minsk agreements.
GEORGE EHIDIAMEN EDOKPA (Nigeria) underlined that the adverse effects of climate change on communities often prompt clashes over resources that sometimes create an enabling environment for terrorist groups to recruit and spread their extremist ideology. He welcomed the draft resolution proposed by Niger and Ireland and co-sponsored by his country. To address the threats from both climate change and terrorism, he spotlighted the imperative need to provide essential services and critical infrastructure to boost economic growth of developing nations, which are among the hardest hit by climate impact, and to strengthen their criminal justice systems to ensure accountability of all terrorism actions. Stressing the importance of international cooperation and a whole of United Nations-response for that matter, he called for enhanced multilateral support for regional efforts to curb the threats of terrorism, especially in the Sahel and Lake Chad Basin regions. Also noting that many African countries are most vulnerable to consequences of climate change despite low contribution, he reiterated the need for developed countries to be committed to mobilizing $100 billion yearly to support climate action in developing countries, especially on the African continent.
JAMAL FARES ALROWAIEI (Bahrain), stressing that terrorism is one of the greatest challenges faced by the international community, said that the world must combat this phenomenon that prevents progress and prosperity. For its part, Bahrain continues to fight this scourge — a spreading, serious threat — through its commitment to implement relevant international resolutions on combatting terrorist financing. As a small, developing country, Bahrain is concerned by climate change, which is an international challenge that requires collective solutions, he said. The Government has adopted several measures to counter the harmful effects of climate change, as Bahrain has been affected by rising temperatures and sea levels despite minimal contributions to global emissions. He detailed several of these initiatives, including the planting of mangroves, investment in carbon-sequestration techniques and a commitment to reaching carbon neutrality by 2060.
PETER MOHAN MAITHRI PIERIS (Sri Lanka), stressing that terrorism will threaten global peace and security unless its root causes are addressed, underlined that climate change is one of the greatest threat multipliers. The climate-security nexus must be evaluated, discussed and met with a unified global response. Elaborating on the concepts of peace and security, he said these are the raison d’être for the United Nations. A central question is whether climate change is a security issue, he said, recalling that in the 1980s, it was considered as second only to nuclear war, and that in 2009, the Secretary-General recognized it as one of five threats to stability. Recently, increased insurgent activities are feeding environmental collapse, creating an environment of internal unrest, migration, Statelessness and ending in conflict over scarce resources. Indeed, terrorism and climate change are not siloed threats to humanity, he said, but rather different manifestations of the same threat, one that build on human fear and insecurity.
CHO HYUN (Republic of Korea) highlighted how, in the Sahel, climate change-affected people and communities are struggling for their livelihoods, often falling into the hands of the terrorist groups. As well, in small island countries, a single severe weather event can threaten the very existence of the States themselves, resulting in tens of thousands of migrants moving out. In conflict-affected regions, climate change is aggravating already vulnerable situations. Therefore, climate change-related factors must be considered in conflict prevention and rebuilding after conflicts. He called for a whole-of-United Nations-approach, including the active engagement of the Security Council to address the climate-security nexus, also adding his support for the work of the Climate Security Mechanism. The root cause of the climate change threat to security — climate change — must be addressed. To that end, the Republic of Korea is accelerating efforts to reduce emissions, including by establishing a Presidential committee on carbon neutrality, among other measures. It also recently joined the Group of Friends on Climate Security and is co-sponsoring the draft resolution on climate and security presented by Niger and Ireland.
JOAQUÍN ALBERTO PÉREZ AYESTARÁN (Venezuela) categorically rejecting international terrorism, emphasized that his country is firmly committed to combating climate change. Criminal acts committed by terrorist groups impinge on the political unity of States, generating terror and destabilizing the legitimate order. The use of terrorism to bring down legitimate Governments is intolerable. Noting that climate change is a phenomenon that has greatest impact in countries of the global south, he stressed that the illegal implementation of unilateral coercive measures undermines the implementation of the Paris Agreement. In conflict or post-conflict situations, the adverse impact of climate change can represent an additional threat. However, he expressed his concern over attempts to “securitize” such a delicate matter by placing it on the Security Council’s agenda. This will provide a pretext to include items on the agenda for political motivations, whereas climate change must be tackled through cooperation and action within the context of multilateralism.
OMAR KADIRI (Morocco) said his country is in a region demonstrating the strongest link between climate change and sustainable development on the African continent. Sahel nations are being disproportionately punished by climate change impacts, he pointed out, adding that Morocco will continue to provide them with technical assistance through South-South cooperation. There appears to be a link between climate change and terrorism in some regions, he said, where the phenomenon multiplies threats due to lack of resources and subsistence living. The United Nations must act in areas where climate change threatens international peace and security, as the Organization is tackling increasingly complex threats. Moreover, peacekeeping missions must increase their environmental footprints, he said, adding that all Moroccan peacekeepers undergo special training to raise their awareness of the environment.
SATYENDRA PRASAD (Fiji), associating himself with the Group of Friends on Climate and Security, said future debates on peace and security in this chamber will be informed by how rapidly the world can secure 1.5°C. Securing 1.5°C is by far the most important peace and security investment that the world can make today; it is that simple. New weapons of war are emerging, including selective access to fresh water, resources and areas not threatened by rising sea levels. Many of the Council’s peace interventions are engagements where climate crisis already shapes, exacerbates and defines the contours of conflict. This debate must lead to clear actions that help to build climate resilience in ways that promote peace and stability rather than fuel conflict, instability and possible State collapse. Fiji joins other Member States in inviting the Council to live up to its responsibility at this historic moment, he said, adding that the speediest possible adoption of the thematic resolution is a good start. Recently, the Pacific Islands Forum issued a declaration on the Law of Sea, following the Blue Declaration, recognizing that climate change is the single gravest threat to the people of the region. Yet, none of the Pacific islands has sat as a member of the Council, he observed, emphasizing that those nations see peace and security differently than many Council members. The Council can take a measured and necessary step forward today, adopting this resolution and sending a message to Pacific island communities and people who face constant dislocation that they are heard, he said.
IGOR PILIPENKO (Belarus), calling for stronger international cooperation to combat terrorism and climate change, said that the latter is just one of the many issues that directly or indirectly affects international security. Climate change is a varied topic. Model, generic approaches cannot address the unique climate and environmental conditions present in each country. Rather, an individual approach is needed, where specific action is taken at the request and with the consent of recipient States. He expressed concern that the Council’s focus on this topic might be to the exclusion of hundreds of other factors affecting international peace and security, including vaccine access, poverty, unilateral coercive measures and the rights of women. Stressing that the Council must focus on the root causes of conflict — and the eradication thereof — he said that introducing climate change into the Council’s work breaches the principle of division of responsibility within the United Nations system and will duplicate efforts. Rather, he urged tapping into the full potential of existing mechanisms such as UNFCCC.
BAKHTIYOR IBRAGIMOV (Uzbekistan) said his country envisages doubling the energy efficiency of its economy by 2030 and has adopted a national strategy for the transition to a green economy for the period 2019-2030. However, climate change is also impacting his region’s water resources. According to some projections, by 2050, the water resources of the basins of the two major rivers in Central Asia, the Syr Darya and the Amu Darya, are expected to decrease by up to five per cent and 15 per cent, respectively. In addition, the shortage of fresh water in that region by 2050 could lead to the reduction of the regional GDP) by 11 per cent. In that regard and at the initiative of his country’s President, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, the Central Asian countries have jointly established a platform for the consultative meetings of the Heads of State to constructively discuss a range of issues with an aim to maintaining peace and security in Central Asia. During the third consultative meeting held in August, he said President Mirziyoyev had called for the development of a regional programme for Central Asia, which would contribute to the adaptation of the region’s countries to climate change.