With Climate Crisis Generating Growing Threats to Global Peace, Security Council Must Ramp Up Efforts, Lessen Risk of Conflicts, Speakers Stress in Open Debate
With the climate crisis generating an increasing threat to global peace and security, the Security Council must ramp up its efforts to protect the Organization’s peace operations around the world and lessen the risk of conflicts emanating from rising sea levels, droughts, floods and other climate-related events, briefers, ministers and delegates told the 15-nation organ.
Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, said most United Nations peace operations have faced a deteriorating security and political environment over the past several years. Alongside other cross-border challenges, environmental degradation and extreme weather events — amplified by climate change — have increasingly challenged missions’ ability to carry out their mandates.
Across the board, the Department of Peacebuilding and Political Affairs and the Department of Peace Operations are striving to integrate climate considerations into their work, he continued. Since 2018, the Climate Security Mechanism — a joint initiative between those two Departments, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) — has provided multidisciplinary support to Member States, regional organizations and United Nations entities to better understand the linkages between climate, peace and security.
He urged host Governments, development actors and the private sector to provide their support. “Together we can build a future where our efforts in conflict prevention, peacemaking, peacebuilding and peacekeeping reinforce and are complemented by our commitment to addressing the climate crisis,” he stressed.
Juan Manuel Santos Calderón, President of Colombia and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, underscored that climate change and security cannot be treated as separate issues. In the real world, the consequences of climate change and conflict very clearly converge. Climate change exacerbates threats to human security and war damages nature and the environment in numerous ways, from the destruction of dams to attacks on oil pipelines and agricultural land that sustains rural communities.
More so, even though conflict and displacement driven by climate change have a disproportionate effect on women, they have shown great leadership finding solutions, from resolving local water disputes in Yemen to resisting environmental crimes in Colombia, he pointed out.
Stressing that the Council must address the unprecedented challenge of climate insecurity, he spotlighted the need to, among other things, use climate forecasting as part of the United Nations prevention toolkit to mitigate risk in fragile contexts. “Peace can only be maintained if the very forests, soils and rivers that communities depend on are protected and managed sustainably,” he said.
Salma Kadry, Climate, Peace and Security Expert at the Consortium on International Agricultural Research, said that if the international community does not meet the magnitude of the climate crisis, a warming climate will put her generation and future ones in the face of multiplying dangers and insecurities. She urged the international community to look again at whether its peace and security tools are effectively supporting people’s innovations and building their resilience, particularly for women and youth. She also urged the Council to expand the spectrum of research that informs its decisions.
Yet the most important piece of the puzzle is political will, she observed: “The will, which is the very characteristic that sets us apart as human beings. The will that can make us move mountains or stay where we are”, she said, adding: “I acknowledge the difficulty of the task at hand, but I urge you to innovate and recreate multilateral tools to live up to the challenge and to stop the passing of struggles and hardships to my generation and coming ones.”
In the ensuing all day debate, more than seventy speakers tackled the issue of the climate crisis-security nexus, with many urging the Council to expand the measures and mechanisms already under way to curb the impact climate-related changes have on both peacekeeping operations and the regions in which they are located.
Hermann Immongault, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Gabon, said that 17 out of 20 countries most affected by climate change are in Africa. Access to water, along with drought, desertification and recurrent flooding constraints, is causing the economic and social fabric of the Horn of Africa and the Sahel region to fray. He called for incorporating the climate-security nexus in geopolitical strategies; boosting cooperation between subregional and regional organizations and the United Nations; and sharing best practices at the national, regional and international level. “This is the question of survival of the affected populations and the issue that determines peace and security for people throughout the world,” he added.
Kwaku Afriyie, Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation of Ghana, said the strong link between climate change and international peace and security can no longer be denied or ignored. He called on the international community to harness global and regional instruments to reverse climate change and its security impacts. Since the Council has a role in that regard, he urged it to find space within its agenda to continue leveraging the work of the Group of Friends on Climate and Security and the Climate Security Mechanism. As well, the Secretary-General should include climate fragility issues in his reports, he said, stressing that women, girls and youth must not be forgotten.
Catherine Stewart, Ambassador for Climate Change of Canada, also speaking for Australia and New Zealand, called for a collective action to assess the security implications of climate change and its effect on fragile and conflict-affected States; peacebuilding activities; and women, youth and Indigenous Persons. The Council should also integrate climate risks into peacekeeping mandates and practices. The Australia-Pacific Climate Partnership supports Australian aid investments across the Pacific to be climate and disaster risk informed, and in partnership with the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), the Women’s Resilience to Disasters Program supports women’s leadership in climate and disaster reduction efforts.
The representative of Slovenia emphasized that it was essential for the Organization to leverage existing mechanisms, such as the Climate Security Mechanism. The Council’s Informal Expert Group also plays an important role, he said, also backing a stronger collaboration between the Peacebuilding Commission and the Council. Emphasizing that the consequences of climate change are not gender-neutral, he urged the Council to fully incorporate a gender perspective into climate responses. As well, a climate change lens should be systematically mainstreamed into the women, peace and security agenda.
The representative of Germany, speaking for the Group of Friends on Climate and Security, called for the Secretary-General to appoint a special representative for climate, peace and security. The entire United Nations system must address this complex challenge and the Climate Security Mechanism is a prime example of interagency cooperation. It strengthens the Organization’s capacity to analyse and address the adverse impacts of climate change on peace and security. The Council would also greatly benefit from considering the findings emanating from Peacebuilding Commission meetings on specific regions, such as the Pacific Islands, the Sahel and Central Asia.
Yet other delegates voiced their concerned that if the Council tackles climate change, the role of other forums specifically targeted for climate issues, such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement on climate change, could be diminished.
The representative of Brazil said that the Conference of the Parties to the Framework Convention and the Paris Agreement are the most appropriate forums to discuss climate change. While the Council should support host countries’ efforts — at their request — to increase local resilience, this does not mean that the organ has a mandate to address climate change. The Framework Convention already has proper mechanisms to address such development challenges. “To effectively fight climate change, we all need, in the first place, to reduce fossil fuel burning,” he stressed, while underscoring the importance of enhancing developing countries’ representation in the Council.
The representative of China said the Council should consider its mandate and country-specific situations while assessing climate change security implications. Recalling the reversal in some developed countries’ energy policies since 2022, he said their carbon emissions have increased, not decreased. If climate change is deemed a potential threat, a negative, regressive behaviour in emissions reduction fulfilment — including unilateral withdrawal from the Paris Agreement — should also constitute a threat to international peace and security.
The representative of India, pointing to the little scientific evidence around the impact of climate change on peace and security, said that any attribution of a conflict’s cause on climate change is an oversimplification. Choosing to place this issue in non-mandated forums — especially those where all members are not on equal footing — will undermine the larger cause of securing climate justice. The Framework Convention is an appropriate forum for discussion, she emphasized.
Nonetheless, the Marshall Islands’ delegate, speaking for the Pacific small island developing States, once again stressed that, while the Pacific Island countries are the smallest contributors to global climate change, their way of life faces extinction. “We represent the canary in the coal mine for what is to come if concrete action is not taken by transitioning from fossil fuels towards renewable energy and scaling up climate finance in the realms of adaptation and mitigation,” she said.
To that, Ireland’s representative underscored that a concerted, multilateral response is urgently needed. Beyond doing more to better understand climate-related security risks, the Council has a duty to use all the tools at its disposal to address climate where it is exacerbating instability and undermining peace and security. Anything less would be a betrayal of its responsibility, he cautioned, adding: “The question of whether the Security Council should factor the security risks of climate change into its decision-making is no longer a matter of if, but when.”
The meeting began at 10:11 a.m., suspended at 1:15 p.m., resumed at 3:30 p.m. and ended at 7:20 p.m.
JEAN-PIERRE LACROIX, Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, reported that most United Nations peace operations have faced a deteriorating security and political environment within the past several years. Alongside other cross-border challenges, environmental degradation and extreme weather events amplified by climate change have increasingly challenged mandate implementation. With the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimating that nearly 3.5 billion people live in climate hot spots, climate-related peace and security risks are only set to heighten. A strong correlation between Member States facing fragility and those facing climate change can already be seen, he pointed out, noting that the majority of the Organizations’ peace operations are deployed in highly climate-exposed contexts characterized by high levels of gender inequality. Of the 16 most climate vulnerable, 9 host a United Nations field mission.
Within a number of host nations, climate change is diminishing natural resources, affecting social cohesion and driving conflict. Over the past few years for example, the Organization has seen how altered mobility routes for transhumance due to seasonal weather pattern changes exacerbate tension and conflict between farmers and cattle herders. In Mali, this challenge negatively interacts with a high dependence on rain-fed agriculture and a concurrently increased demand from population growth. In Somalia, its current drought compounds vulnerabilities and contributes to displacement, hunger and grievances. In Iraq, water scarcity, rising temperatures and dust storms heighten pressure on intercommunal relations. And in many other places, climate change’s cascading effects are shaping the Organization’s work on conflict prevention, peacemaking and peacebuilding. “Considering climate change in all that we do, as also requested by this Council in a number of instances, is no longer a choice,” he declared.
Against that backdrop, the United Nations is seeking to mitigate security risks in tandem with its efforts addressing climate so as to generate co-benefits and create a more resilient future, he said. Across the board, the Department of Peacebuilding and Political Affairs and the Department of Peace Operations strive to integrate climate considerations into their work. Since 2018, the Climate Security Mechanism — a joint initiative between those two Departments, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) — has provided multidisciplinary support to Member States, regional organizations and United Nations entities to better understand the linkages between climate, peace and security.
In terms of priority action areas, he said that the United Nations is investing in the capacity of its peace operations to anticipate and address such linkages. The deployment of dedicated capacities on climate, peace and security in a growing number of field missions in particular has been a game changer, especially in strengthening their abilities to implement Council mandates. With the help of innovation partners, the Organization is beginning to use satellite imagery and machine learning to better understand climate trends and boost early warning capacity. The enhanced capacity to collect, utilize and analyse data will notably strengthen understandings of climate change’s impacts as well as emerging good practices to manage these risks, he underlined.
The Organization is also reinforcing the mutual benefits of climate action and its work on peace and security. As peacemaking demands climate-sensitive approaches, technical cooperation can open new entry points for dialogue, build confidence among parties and help ensure the longer-term viability of peace agreements. Yet, the capacities of women to address climate impacts and drive peacebuilding are still under-explored, despite their unique position as agents of change. In this regard, the Peacebuilding Fund plays an important catalytic role, as can be seen in Yemen where it increased natural resource access and reduced intercommunal tensions by taking an innovative approach to women’s inclusion in local water management and dispute resolution. Since 2017, the Fund has invested in more than 70-climate informed peacebuilding projects implemented by 21 different entities around the world — with 7 out of the 10 most climate vulnerable having been beneficiaries over the past five years. Aligning peacebuilding and climate finance mechanisms would allow the Organization to optimize systems and utilize limited resources in more efficient and impactful ways, he pointed out.
Guided by the Environmental Strategy for Peace Operations, the United Nations is also progressively introducing renewable energy solutions, reducing its environmental footprint while minimizing the security risk for fuel convoys, he noted. With support from the Department of Operational Support, peace operations are considering how their energy needs, footprint and infrastructure investments can positively contribute to host States’ efforts on accessing clean energy. Operations in Mali and Somalia in particular are utilizing innovative renewable energy sourcing approaches through partnerships with host nations and the private sector. To secure similar opportunities across other mission sites, host Governments, development actors and the private sector must provide their support. “Together we can build a future where our efforts in conflict prevention, peacemaking, peacebuilding and peacekeeping reinforce and are complemented by our commitment to addressing the climate crisis,” he stressed.
JUAN MANUEL SANTOS CALDERÓN, President of Colombia and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, recalled his visit to the Sierra Nevada, one of the most biodiverse mountain ranges in the world, to ask permission from the Kogis, the indigenous people who are known to best preserve the pre-Hispanic civilization. “Make peace with FARC [People’s Alternative Revolutionary Force], but also make peace with nature. Peace among humans will not be successful unless you make peace with Mother Nature too,” they told him.
After six years of negotiations, Colombia ended 50 years of war with the former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP), and this guerrilla no longer exists, he said, highlighting the instrumental support the Council has provided to his country’s peace process. The Colombian peace agreement is unique in many ways; it includes a gender and an ethnicity chapter and the victims and their rights became the centre of the negotiations. In addition, since nature was also a victim, the protection of the environment is present in all sections of the agreement. Repairing nature is one of the sanctions specifically mentioned for those most responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
As the agreement has not been effectively implemented, violence and deforestation in some areas left by FARC-EP has increased; however, he pointed out, in many places, former combatants and communities have come together to preserve the forests and rivers and to promote ecotourism. “We have for too long ignored nature and its critical role in sustaining humanity and the planet,” he said, adding that biodiversity loss and climate change cannot be addressed separately. In countries like Colombia, preserving the forests turns out to be more net effective than cutting emissions from fossil fuels.
He highlighted that one great achievement for the upcoming twenty-eighth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Climate Change Conference would be to merge the Biodiversity Convention and the Climate Convention into one convention that adequately funds the protection of nature. Stressing the need to respond to the existential threats facing humanity — the climate crisis, pandemics, nuclear weapons and artificial intelligence — he said that climate change and security cannot be treated as separate issues. In the real world, the consequences of climate change and conflict very clearly converge. Climate change exacerbates threats to human security and war damages nature and the environment in numerous ways, from the destruction of dams to attacks on oil pipelines and agricultural land that sustains rural communities.
Even though conflict and displacement driven by climate change have a disproportionate effect on women, they have shown great leadership finding solutions, from resolving local water disputes in Yemen to resisting environmental crimes in Colombia, he underscored. Further, the Council must address the unprecedented challenge of climate insecurity, he said, stressing the need to increase the number of climate and security advisers attached to peacekeeping missions and to use climate forecasting as part of the United Nations prevention toolkits to mitigate risk in fragile contexts. “Peace can only be maintained if the very forests, soils and rivers that communities depend on are protected and managed sustainably,” he said.
SALMA KADRY, Climate, Peace and Security Expert at the Consortium on International Agricultural Research, said she is concerned that if the international community does not meet the magnitude of the climate crisis, a warming climate will put her generation and future ones in the face of multiplying dangers and insecurities. The scientific evidence for climate impacts in the Arab region is clear and strong and people are not on an equal footing with the forces of nature. Outlining three important issues facing the Arab region when discussing the climate, peace and security agenda, she said that as climate change destabilizes food, land and water systems, the prospect of securing food, water and energy needs is undermined. This can be a major destabilizing factor, particularly as the region is one of the most water-scarce in the world and heavily dependent on food imports.
Secondly, conflict and fragility weaken governance, cause political frictions and damage the social fabric of societies. It also destroys physical infrastructure, water infrastructure, housing, education and health-care facilities. “It simply destabilizes every resilience tool and drives societies into a very dangerous and uncertain pathway,” she said. “In simple words, conflicts multiply risks and challenges and take away the tools which can be used to face the climate crisis.” She also asked the international community to consider the intended and unintended consequences on the Arab region if the energy transition doesn’t serve human development or bring benefits to local development.
Stressing that the climate, peace and security agenda should be anchored in prevention, resilience, risk mitigation, justice and equity, she laid out four recommendations. First, people bear the brunt of conflicts and the climate crisis, yet they are also at the centre of adaptation, creation and innovation. She urged the international community to look again at whether peace and security tools are effective in supporting people’s innovations and building their resilience, particularly for women and youth. She urged the Council to expand the spectrum of research that informs its decisions. They can leverage local Arab networks, researchers and thinkers who are skilled, speak the language and have cultural appropriateness to generate a bottom-up understanding of climate-resilient peace. Another way is to use innovative, state-of-the-art science on food, land and water systems that are central to the climate security nexus, such as through the Consortium’s newly launched Climate Security Observatory.
Noting the region’s growing attention to the climate, peace and security agenda, she said the presidency of the twenty-seventh Conference of the Parties launched the Climate Responses for Sustaining Peace initiative. The Arab Water Council and the League of Arab States have created mechanisms to advance this agenda at a regional level.
A final recommendation is that climate finance reaches the most deserving people. Reparations need to be paid for countries who least contributed to this problem so they can adapt and deal with loss and damage. Simplified climate finance tools must be developed that are tailored to conflict countries, reach those most in need and serve climate adaptation, which is a priority for the region. The most important piece of the puzzle is political will.
“The will, which is the very characteristic that sets us apart as human beings. The will that can make us move mountains or stay where we are,” she said. “I acknowledge the difficulty of the task at hand, but I urge you to innovate and recreate multilateral tools to live up to the challenge and to stop the passing of struggles and hardships to my generation and coming ones.”
MARIAM BINT MOHAMMED SAEED HAREB ALMHEIRI, Minister for Climate Change and Environment of United Arab Emirates and Council President for June, speaking in her national capacity, noted that since the 15-nation organ’s first meeting on the subject in 2007, there has been little evolution in the contours of the debate. Nevertheless, she stressed, the threat of climate change as a “risk multiplier” is no longer a hypothetical scenario, but rather the daily lived reality in various conflict settings around the world. In Somalia, the terrorist group al-Shabaab capitalizes on the persistent drought in the Horn of Africa, driving recruitment among displaced communities and imposing taxes on desperate farmers and herders. Just in May, she noted, the group killed 54 Ugandan peacekeepers serving as part of the African Union’s mission in the country. Moreover, the Middle East, home to 14 of the 33 most water-stressed countries globally, is further plagued by climate change — escalating tensions within and across national borders.
In conflicts around the world, she noted that climate change has further entrenched the epidemic of gender-based violence and inequality — ramifications that will only increase in intensity and strength over time, with the risk of their cumulative effects snowballing. Despite these realities, the Council’s response has remained insufficient due to the unparalleled scale and complexity of climate change and its highly variable impacts. She called on the Council to avoid polarization around its consideration of the issue — as the stakes are too high to dismiss or vilify those with legitimate concerns about its jurisdiction. At the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Dubai, the incoming United Arab Emirates presidency plans to introduce a “Relief, Recovery and Peace” Day to highlight the intersection of climate change, peace, and security. She further cited the critical lack of accessible, affordable and sufficient climate finance — particularly for countries and communities experiencing humanitarian and security crises, which receive in some cases 80 times less per capita than other developing countries, which already receive inadequate flows.
HERMANN IMMONGAULT, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Gabon, said that 17 out of 20 countries most affected by climate change are located in Africa. Despite Africa’s marginal contribution to global warming, the continent is vulnerable to internal displacement and community tensions. Access to water, drought, desertification and recurrent flooding cause the economic and social fabric of the Horn of Africa and the Sahel region to fray, while also modifying natural habitats and fuelling armed conflicts. Lake Chad’s shrinking reduces local populations’ ability to implement survival and resilience strategies to climate shocks and fuels illicit activity cycles, while also increasing organized crime and the activities of armed groups, including maritime piracy and the growing threat to the Congo Basin rainforest. In this context, by 2050, Africa may record millions of internal migrants that might fuel conflicts. Noting that in Lake Chad, farmers and fishers engage in conflict around natural resources, he called for incorporating the climate-security nexus in geopolitical strategies; boosting cooperation between subregional and regional organizations and the United Nations; and sharing best practices at the national, regional and international level. Underscoring the importance of international financial institutions and donors in providing climate financing based on “common but differentiated responsibility”, he also reiterated the will of Gabon’s President, Ali Bongo Ondimba, to fight climate change. “This is the question of survival of the affected populations and the issue that determines peace and security for people throughout the world,” he added.
KWAKU AFRIYIE, Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation of Ghana, associating himself with the statement to be delivered by the Group of Friends on Climate and Security, stressed that the strong link between climate change and international peace and security can no longer be denied or ignored. Its adverse impact on the stability of countries manifests itself in conflict, terrorism, violent extremism and the further shrinking or displacement of the State. Spotlighting an example from the Lake Chad region, he called on the international community to harness available global and regional instruments to reverse climate change and its security impacts. Since the Council has a role in that regard, he urged it to find space within its agenda for discussion and complement efforts. In particular, it should encourage special political missions to mainstream climate perspectives in mediation and peace negotiations; enhance peacekeeping missions’ capacities to assess climate-related risks and opportunities across early warning, planning and prevention; and include climate-specific language in mandates. As well, it should continue leveraging the work of the Group of Friends and the Climate Security Mechanism. As a troop-contributing country, Ghana encourages the Organization and donor partners to support peace operations which leverage innovative tools to reduce carbon footprints. For their part, the Secretary-General should include climate fragility issues in his reports; the international community must adequately finance climate activities; and the Organization must deepen its cooperation with regional and subregional mechanisms. Women, girls and youth must not be forgotten, he added.
ANA COMOANA, Minister for State Administration and Public Service of Mozambique, said that no country is immune to the evil of climate change and no country is individually capable of combating it. This justifies the pertinence of strengthening international cooperation on this issue. The systematic occurrence of extreme weather events — namely droughts, floods and cyclones — precipitate large displacements of the population from risk areas to those considered safe, thus contributing to the increase in the number of conflicts. Turning to the situation in Mozambique, she spotlighted that her country has been cyclically suffering from the adverse effects of climate change, with the occurrence in 2019 of Cyclones Idai and Kenneth, which caused approximately 500,000 internal displacements in the provinces of Sofala, Zambézia, Manica, Tete, Nampula and Cabo Delgado and, more recently, Tropical Cyclone Freddy, which affected around 1.3 million people. However, she underscored, the effects of climate change are not felt with the same intensity across countries. Specifically, African countries — due to their socioeconomic situation — have been the most affected, with disastrous consequences for their economy, food security and network of infrastructure and essential services. Due to its geographic vulnerability and its sense of shared responsibility, Mozambique has been proactive in the building of collective solutions, materialized, inter alia, by the approval and implementation of governance instruments related to the fight against climate change.
JOHN KERRY, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate Change of the United States, said this is a critical meeting on the security implications of the climate crisis. It is indisputable that the climate crisis is one of the top security threats to the entire planet and life on the planet itself. Countries are already spending billions of dollars each year, not on prevention, but on “cleaning up the mess”. The costs are an active threat against the livelihoods and peace of people everywhere on the planet. “There is no finding peace for people around the world who are dying from pollution,” he said, referring to greenhouse gas emissions. He said there is no legitimate debate about the severity of the crisis and no space for procrastination. “The crisis is growing and undermining collective peace and security,” he said, adding that concerted action is needed by the Council and every Government around the world. The climate crisis’ impact on people’s lives and security will worsen every day and year that action is not taken. He urged the international community to pledge resources for climate initiatives that integrate the needs of the most vulnerable people. He urged the Council to reimagine a United Nations system that integrates the climate crisis into conflict prevention and remediation in the peacekeeping missions. He pointed to the three challenges facing the international community in Dubai at COP28: adaption, addressing loss and damage, and global stocktaking. This stocktaking must not only be a stark assessment of “where we are, but it must show a road map going forward”. Countries need to use existing tools and technology to reduce carbon emissions and recommit themselves to the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. “The decisive decade is now,” he said.
LIVIA LEU, State Secretary for the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland, affirmed that climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution represent a triple global crisis — with the vicious circle of tension, fragility and conflict often reinforced by climate change. In the Sahel, for example, persistent flooding is preventing the mission mandated by the Council from fully accomplishing its task of protecting civilians. As the impact of climate change is unprecedented, “our response must therefore be innovative”, she stressed — putting science and new technologies at the service of conflict prevention. She cited the Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems initiative, triggering rapid action ahead of extreme events in vulnerable countries, as well as the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) Displacement Tracking Matrix, which analyses data on displaced populations. Collective efforts to build and consolidate peace must also integrate the links between climate change and security, a need confirmed by the Peacebuilding Fund. She called for the mandates of the peacekeeping operations to be sensitive to climate risks, as reality on the ground has already prompted some missions to react. Noting that the Climate Security Mechanism also enables the United Nations to address risks more systematically, she further emphasized the role of the Informal Expert Group on Climate and Security, which Switzerland co-chairs with United Arab Emirates and Mozambique.
JOÃO GENÉSIO DE ALMEIDA FILHO (Brazil) said that at COP27, Brazil’s President-elect, Luis Inácio Lula da Silva, presented the country’s pledge to host the thirtieth Conference of the Parties (COP30) in 2025 in the Brazilian Amazon. The Global Stocktake, which will take place at COP28 in Dubai in 2023, will be fundamental for the future climate change regime, he said, underlining that the Climate Conference and the Paris Agreement are the most appropriate forums to discuss climate change. While the Council should support the host countries’ efforts — at their request — to increase local resilience, this does not mean that the organ should have a mandate to address climate change. More so, the influence of climate on conflict is “relatively week” in comparison to other socioeconomic factors, he observed, while adding that the Council lacks adequate tools to address this phenomenon or provide climate finance, including the means for mitigation and adaptation. The Framework Convention on Climate Change already has proper mechanisms to address such development challenges. “To effectively fight climate change, we all need, in the first place, to reduce fossil fuel burning,” he stressed, while underscoring the importance of enhancing developing countries’ representation in the Council.
JAMES KARIUKI (United Kingdom) — observing that climate change’s physical impacts and cascading risks are being felt across the world and exacerbating pre-existing fragilities — called for urgent, coordinated global action. In that regard, there must be increased and improved access to finance for most affected countries. For its part, the United Kingdom is working to reform the international financial system and scale up both public and private finance for climate resilience and sustainable peace. London has also founded regional risk pools, which have notably transferred $1 billion of risk from Africa, with Somalia receiving a first pay-out from drought insurance in 2023. The international community, he continued, needs to ensure that the drivers of conflict are considered within climate interventions, especially since conflict-sensitive climate adaptation needs to be part of the solution for destabilized countries. Women, girls and local actors need to be meaningfully included in formal systems and negotiations. Moreover, climate and conflict risk reduction and early responses should be integrated into humanitarian, peacebuilding and development programmes. Since the United Nations is well-positioned to coordinate efforts, the Council should provide its support by driving a more coherent and integrated response to stabilization, peacebuilding and climate-resilience development, he insisted.
ZHANG JUN (China) said the Council should take into account its mandate and country-specific situations while assessing climate change security implications. Recalling the reversal in some developed countries’ energy policies since 2022, he said their carbon emissions have increased, not decreased. If climate change is deemed a potential threat, a negative regressive behaviour in the emissions reduction fulfilment — including unilateral withdrawal from the Paris Agreement — should also constitute a threat to international peace and security. In this context, the annual shortfall of $100 billion must be made up as soon as a possible and a new collective qualitied goal for the post-2025 period be set. Further, the Council could consider authorizing its field missions in the States most affected by the climate change to collect information on the host country’s annual receipts of climate finance from developed countries. The missions themselves should become benchmarks for energy conservation and emissions reduction. In the pretext of promoting their own energy transition, certain countries have invested in manufacturing industry subsidies, while setting up barriers against green industries and blocking developing countries’ access to green technologies.
HERNÁN PÉREZ LOOSE (Ecuador) stressed that the Council must undertake an objective analysis that is both a complement and contribution to — but not a duplication of — existing roles within the climate architecture. As well, it should not disrupt climate finance. Since national ownership is a guiding principle in peacebuilding and a cornerstone of the Paris Agreement, it is crucial to build the national capacities of countries in conflict situations. In that regard, peace, security, a reinvigorated rule of law and robust institutions are all essential. To effectively address and overcome the challenges posed by climate change in those countries, developed countries must crystalize their commitments to mobilize $100 billion per year for developing States. Special political missions and peace missions must also work hand in hand with United Nations country and regional offices. The only solution is joint climate action, he underlined, urging developed countries to show the way in reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040. In that vein, Ecuador supports the holistic integration of climate-related risks, including the gender perspective. A pragmatic and constructive approach to further climate analysis must bear in mind root causes on a case-by-case basis, he added.
VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) warned against the insufficient emphasis on the critical role of sustainable development issues in a package of measures on conflict prevention, singling out merely climate from the broader context. The achievement of sustainable development contributes to eradicating the root causes of conflict, he said, noting the importance of climate financing. “Developed countries are masters when it comes to fuelling alarmism about the climate crisis”; however, he continued, when the discussions transition to substantive issues on real measures — including financing and technology transfer, as well as concrete measures of adaption — “all of the fervour of developed countries curiously vanishes”. Accordingly, he urged the developed countries, instead of merely flooding all various processes and organs with this popular agenda, to provide financial resources and technology transfer to developing countries to support adaptation and mitigation. Despite the fact that climate elements can exacerbate conflict, discussions of climate change fall outside the Council’s mandate, he stressed, adding that the main causes of conflict are socioeconomic in nature. “A direct link between the climate agenda and security is not science-based”, as confirmed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, he highlighted, noting that climate change has occurred during all periods of the planet’s existence.
VANESSA FRAZIER (Malta), noting that strong scientific evidence has shown that climate-security-related risks could lead to devastating consequences if left unchecked, underlined the need for a paradigm shift whereby conflict dynamics and climate fragility are no longer treated separately. Regions in conflict are often the most vulnerable, with instability being further exacerbated by climate shocks. Trends of farmer-herder violence, food insecurity, mass displacement and statehood complications remain a part of this reality, she pointed out. Women and children in particular are disproportionately impacted. Against this backdrop, United Nations missions should scale-up their responses to climate and environmental consequences. Her country notably supports the strengthening of mission mandates through climate-related risk assessment and management to be complemented by gender and age-responsive ones. The deployment of climate, peace and security advisers — in the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) — has been crucial in understanding the interplay with climate in those missions’ countries and regions. Having the Council address the nexus between climate change, peace and security does not divert attention from other relevant bodies but rather complements and reinforces their distinguishable roles, she underscored.
FERIT HOXHA (Albania), recalling the recent Canadian fires, said: “We could smell the smoke in this very room, alerting us of a clear connection between climate change and the increased number and severity of wildfires worldwide.” Recognizing that millions of people are suffering from climate change, floods, droughts and heat, he said that climate change will not spare any corner of the world. While there is no agreement for the Council to address how this impacts security, the organ cannot remain indifferent to this end. In this regard, he underscored the importance of improving vulnerable nations’ resilience and capacity and reducing climate-related risks by reinforcing good governance; reversing to low-carbon energy; and improving natural resource management. In addition, environmental action and disaster risk reduction should be gender-responsive, he stressed, highlighting the need of promoting women, girls and youth as agents of change. “The urgency of the climate crisis demands that we unite in a common cause, transcending political divisions and partisan differences,” he added.
NICOLAS DE RIVIÈRE (France), stressing that now is the time for action, not words, said the Council must assess the impact of climate change on international peace and security, including receiving detailed information about how climate crises impact the most vulnerable regions. He called on the Special Representatives to give the Council specific information during their briefings and lay out recommendations for targeted action in certain areas, particularly Africa. Further, the Council must place greater emphasis on risk prevention. Missions should be encouraged to identify concrete actions, as the Special Representative for South Sudan has done, for example, in proposing to make the Nile a demilitarized zone axis and a common asset. As well, climate, peace and security advisers deployed to missions play a particularly useful role and help countries strengthen their capacities in risk assessment strategies. In conjunction with troop-contributing countries, the United Nations should continue to implement environmental strategies within the missions themselves. He called on Member States to join the United Nations Climate, Peace and Security Mechanism, which aims to integrate the impact of climate change when tackling peace and security issues. His delegation is committed to this activity and co-chairs this Mechanism’s Steering Committee together with Germany, he said.
ISHIKANE KIMIHIRO (Japan) emphasized that climate-change-induced sea-level rise threatens the very existence of small island developing States, while in Africa, mass flooding, droughts, desertification and land degradation trigger and exacerbate conflicts. The Security Council should actively address climate security, coordinating and cooperating with all stakeholders among the United Nations system and beyond, including the Peacebuilding Commission, Economic and Social Council, resident coordinators and international financial institutions. Further, legal stability and predictability are the necessary foundation for small island developing States and African coastal States exposed to various uncertainties regarding sea-level rise. In addition, it is permissible for coastal countries to preserve the existing baselines and maritime zones established under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, notwithstanding the regression of coastlines caused by climate change. Under Japan’s presidency, Group of 7 leaders reaffirmed their commitment to mobilize up to $600 billion in financing for quality infrastructure through the Partnership for Global Infrastructure Investment, while the Japan International Cooperation Agency launched a facility for accelerating climate change resilient and sustainable society of up to $1.5 billion to finance infrastructure projects and companies accelerating climate actions.
PÉTER SZIJJÁRTÓ, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary, said: “Every day of war increases the threat of escalation.” Noting that the international community should save people’s lives through peace, he called for an immediate ceasefire to establish peace talks. “The rhetoric of war is currently louder than the rhetoric of peace,” he stressed, underscoring the importance of a global pro-peace majority. However, even before the war, Hungary lived in the “age of threats and danger” because of climate change, migration and a threat of terror. These issues — on top of the war — created a “terrible vicious cycle”. The war triggered a decrease in grain exports, which destabilized an already fragile region, he reported, adding that the lack of safety and food supplies created a space for extremist ideologies. In this context, Hungary is experiencing the most serious terrorism threat ever that constitutes one of the main root causes of migration. Pointing out that Europe’s biggest nuclear plant — Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant — is operating under risky circumstances, he said it fuels negative discrimination and ideology-based attacks against nuclear power, which is a clean, safe and sustainable way to generate electricity. “Without nuclear power our fight against climate change will not succeed,” he underscored.
CATHERINE STEWART, Ambassador for Climate Change of Canada, also speaking for Australia and New Zealand, associated herself with the Group on Climate Security. Recognizing that climate change is a threat multiplier, aggravating pre-existing security risks, she called for a collective action to assess its security implications and its effect on fragile and conflict-affected States; peacebuilding; women, youth and Indigenous Persons. The Council should integrate climate risks into peacekeeping mandates and practices, while encouraging best practices’ exchange and policy interventions through multilateral platforms. Building understanding and adjusting actions will help to ensure the right preventive measures for peace and security. In this context, Canada with its North-Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies will establish a new Climate Change and Security Centre of Excellence in Montreal in 2023 to help break down climate action silos across the international peace and the security-development-humanitarian nexus.
The Australia-Pacific Climate Partnership supports Australian aid investments across the Pacific to be climate and disaster risk informed, she continued, and, in partnership with the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), the Women’s Resilience to Disasters Program supports women’s leadership in climate and disaster reduction efforts. New Zealand’s International Climate Finance Strategy — Tuia te Waka a Kiwa — guides the delivery of the country’s $1.3 billion international climate finance commitment for 2022-2025. Fifty per cent of this commitment will support Pacific Island countries, while the other half will target adaptation by enhancing resilience to climate change, promoting mitigation and improving evidence-based decision-making. Since 2018, New Zealand’s defence policy has recognized climate change as one of the two most significant long-term trends affecting its security. To this end, she underscored the importance of strengthening cooperation “as never before” to keep populations safe and secure, while noting that success will require transformative change in the institutions, considerable investment, focused leadership and a true dedication to cooperative action.
OSAMA MAHMOUD ABDELKHALEK MAHMOUD (Egypt), speaking for the Arab Group, stressed the importance of joint international action to address climate change in a comprehensive manner as well as its nexus with peace and security. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has indicated in its report that developing countries are more vulnerable to climate change’s effects. Among other things, 2.5 billion people worldwide are suffering from water scarcity — a figure that is expected to double by 2050. Within his region, around 90 per cent of citizens in Arab countries are living in States suffering from water scarcity, thus adding stressors on Arab water security while presenting challenges to ensuring food security.
Addressing the root causes of climate change and adaptation will contribute powerfully to the reduction of peace and security challenges, especially those resulting from climate change, he emphasized. However, this cannot be achieved unless developed countries meet their obligations to developing States, especially the pledge of $100 billion annually. Moreover, concessional financing must be part and parcel of the financial tools provided to those States, he said, echoing the Secretary-General’s call to allocate 50 per cent of climate financing to adaptation and resilience. This would notably help countries address the destructive impacts of climate change. Spotlighting the various efforts and initiatives of its members in curbing the dangers of climate change, he also underlined the importance of addressing the climate change dossier in a comprehensive manner. For its part, the Arab Group will engage fully in all international meetings and fora to ensure the sustainable development, peace, stability and prosperity of all countries, he said.
ANTJE LEENDERTSE (Germany), speaking for the Group of Friends on Climate and Security, said the entire United Nations system must address this complex challenge in all relevant fora and within all relevant mandates. Noting the Organization’s important work in this area, she said the Climate Security Mechanism is a prime example of interagency cooperation. The Mechanism strengthens the United Nations system’s capacity to analyse and address the adverse impacts of climate change on peace and security. Recent meetings of the Peacebuilding Commission on specific regional contexts where climate change has a direct impact on security and stability, such as the Pacific Islands, the Sahel and Central Asia, are very encouraging. These discussions took place at the initiative of the affected countries and have pointed to challenges and opportunities. The Council would greatly benefit from considering the findings of these and future Peacebuilding Commission meetings on the issue. The Council has a crucial role to play, given its primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security. The Council’s Informal Expert Group of Members has been crucial in informing the 15-nation organ’s work. Calling for concrete, tangible actions, she said the Group urges the Secretary-General to report regularly on the peace and security implications of the adverse effects of climate change. The Group also urges him to appoint a special representative for climate, peace and security. She encouraged all United Nations missions to improve their environmental footprints and increase environmental management actions. There is broad consensus among Member States that the Council should refer to climate-change related risks in specific country or regional situations.
JUAN RAMÓN DE LA FUENTE RAMÍREZ (Mexico) said the situation that countries in the Sahel, Somalia or Haiti are going through are unequivocal example of how the adverse effects of climate change can be risk multipliers of conflict as they increase food insecurity and people’s vulnerability to disasters. Accordingly, the risk assessment regarding the effect of climate change must be integrated into all reports produced by the Council to support the work of the Climate Security Mechanisms and the Peacebuilding Commission. As well, disaster risk reduction plans in special political missions and peacekeeping operations must grow stronger to guarantee the availability of efficient and safe humanitarian assistance. Emerging economies require access to means to achieve the goals established in the Paris Agreement on climate change, he said, calling on developed countries to uphold their commitment to climate finance, including financing to the new fund for loss and damages suffered by countries most vulnerable to climate change.
MAURIZIO MASSARI (Italy), associating himself with the Group of Friends on Climate and Security and the statement to be made by the European Union, cited recurring droughts in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa, rising sea levels in the Pacific Ocean, last year’s devastating floods in Pakistan, this year’s flooding in the Great Lakes Region and Cyclone Freddy in South-Eastern Africa, all which have killed thousands of people and displaced millions. Countries most affected by climate change are sending a clear message, he said, stressing: “Instead of questioning the climate peace and security nexus, we should act to counter it.” Unfortunately, the Council is in a deadlock and has so far been unable to fully respond to the demands of an increasing number of Member States. Despite that, responsible Member States remain determined to pursue full recognition of the climate and security nexus. He voiced support for the use of climate-related early warning systems as a tool of conflict prevention and peacebuilding and the incorporation of climate risks in the mandates of peacekeeping missions. Italy is working closely with the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction and the African Union to strengthen early warning systems and reinforce transboundary risk management, he noted.
BOŠTJAN MALOVRH (Slovenia), associating himself with the Group of Friends on Climate and Security and the statement to be made by the European Union, called for stronger cooperation with all partners across and beyond the United Nations system. It is crucial to effectively leverage existing mechanisms, such as the Climate Security Mechanism. The Council’s Informal Expert Group also plays an important role in strengthening the linkages and collaboration between the Peacebuilding Commission and the Council. Climate-driven risks must be explicitly featured in all United Nations peacebuilding mandates, he said, recognizing the contribution of climate peace and security advisers to field missions’ work. Water-related risks in conflict prevention, resolution and peacebuilding efforts also must be addressed. The effects of climate change exert additional pressure on already-strained freshwater resources, intensifying competition for these limited supplies and escalating the risk of tension and conflict. More so, the consequences of climate change are not gender-neutral and the Council must enhance its understanding of this connection and fully incorporate a gender perspective into climate responses. A climate change lens should be systematically mainstreamed into the women, peace, and security agenda, he emphasized.
KATHERINE ANAS AHMAD AL-HALIQUE (Jordan), noting that climate change undermined the Council’s efforts to achieve and sustain peace, said the 15-nation organ must be able to predict and prevent climate change impacts. To this end, she suggested coordinating reconstruction and climate adaptation programmes to account for the present and future climate change consequences. In Jordan, water scarcity amplifies pressure on water infrastructure, placed by the influx of refugees from neighbouring countries; that has increased water needs by 21 per cent throughout the country. By 2045, these needs are expected to grow by 40 per cent. Refugees, who bear the strongest climate change effects, also intensify competition for arable land, employment and natural resources, while deepening their reliance on more affordable energy sources. Climate considerations must also be integrated in the peacekeeping missions’ analysis, she pointed out, encouraging the Council to incorporate the existing initiatives — such as the Climate Security Mechanism — to increase the presence of climate security experts at field missions.
RUCHIRA KAMBOJ (India), pointing to the little scientific evidence of climate change impact on peace and security, said that any attribution of a conflict’s cause on climate change is an oversimplification. Choosing to place this issue in non-mandated forums — especially those where all members are not on equal footing — will undermine the larger cause of securing climate justice. The Framework Convention on Climate Change is an appropriate forum for discussing climate change where each Member State has an equal stake, she pointed out. Further, she underscored the need of dealing with climate change through transformative mitigation and adaptation, noting that the current global financial flows to this end are insufficient in developing countries. Spotlighting efforts to double-count, dilute or divert resources in the “garb of climate resources”, she highlighted unilateral protectionist measures under the pretext of environmental concerns. A global transformation to a low-carbon economy is expected to require $4—6 trillion per year, she said, adding that India will always be a champion for real climate action.
OLIVIER MAES (Luxembourg), associating himself with the Group of Friends on Climate and Security and the statement to be made by the European Union, stressed that the United Nations and Council must better to understand climate change’s impacts on international peace and security. If the December 2021 draft Council resolution had been adopted, the organ could have already seen the first results, he said, voicing his regret over the Russian Federation’s veto. Since climate change knows no borders, all must work together and act now. In that vein, climate change must be accounted for in mediation and conflict prevention, especially since natural resources are involved in many conflicts exacerbated by climate. In the Sahel region, for example, his Government is actively committed to local agreements for intercommunal, inclusive and sustainable governance on such resources. Moreover, there is a need to strengthen capacity and expertise on the ground. Expressing his support for climate-related initiatives undertaken by special political missions, peacekeeping operations, special envoys and the United Nations system to that end, he encouraged missions to continue reducing their environmental footprint. In addition, the Secretary-General should appoint a special representative on climate, peace and security to strengthen a coherent Organization-wide approach, he said.
ALEXANDER MARSCHIK (Austria) said that increasingly recurring natural disasters are a consequence of anthropogenic climate change that exacerbates challenges, such as poverty and health. Underscoring the need to strengthen the United Nations capacity to address the interlinkages between climate and security, he said that regional peacekeeping mandates — such as the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) — should have dedicated capacity to deliver on their climate mandates. Additionally, strengthening analysis capacities and early warning systems in all regions as to the specific security challenges triggered by climate change is essential for United Nations peacebuilding efforts. Welcoming the work of the Climate Security Mechanism, he advocated for appointing a special envoy for climate and security. In addition, the international community should consider making widespread long-term damage to the environment a crime under international law — referred to as “ecocide”. As climate change disregards borders, he emphasized that it is crucial to strengthen partnerships in the context of climate and security, especially with regional actors such as the African Union and the European Union.
DANG HOANG GIANG (Viet Nam) voiced his support for the Council’s continuing attention to the nexus of climate change and security, which has evolved into a multi-faceted concern that includes economic consequences. Climate change is a risk multiplier that intensifies conflict and can even contribute to conditions that create terrorism. The effects of climate change can destabilize countries and disproportionately impact vulnerable groups, including women and girls. These risks could impede peacebuilding and development. The Council, with its primary mandate of peace and security, should take greater actions to advance the climate agenda through a holistic approach that addresses the root causes of conflict and the influence of climate change. The Council should also support the Organization’s actions on climate and its key agreements, such as the Paris Agreement. Further, it is imperative that the Council increase collaboration with national and regional initiatives. In this regard, regional organizations should be consulted more frequently as they can help the Council identify risks in various situations. Viet Nam is among the countries most severely affected by the changing climate and an effective response is essential to its security. His delegation is committed to supporting initiatives that counter climate change, he said, advocating for greater global cooperation.
ARRMANATHA CHRISTIAWAN NASIR (Indonesia) noted that climate change can prolong conflict, while the environmental cost of conflict itself can put more pressure on those facing scarce resources. Concrete actions and synergies within the United Nations system are crucial, with relevant United Nations organs, entities and fora focusing on issues within their mandates while mutually reinforcing each other. The international community must go beyond rhetoric to accentuate the importance of climate finance, as without it, vulnerable countries will not be able to mitigate and adapt to climate chance. Further, United Nations missions should reduce their climate footprint, with mandates that are more tailored and by assisting host countries to better adapt to the security challenges of climate change. Calling for enhanced partnerships with regional and subregional organizations, which are vital to addressing not just the root causes of conflict, but how climate change acts as a risk multiplier, he expressed hope that the upcoming United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will lead to an action-oriented outcome.
CHRISTIAN WENAWESER (Liechtenstein) underlined that all regions of the world are affected by climate change’s devastating consequences. The breaching of 1.5°C within the next five years for global temperatures is not a future hypothetical anymore but rather an imminent threat, he warned, urging those with the highest emissions to undertake reduction measures to reverse this trend. On sea-level rise, he emphasized that the unprecedented scenario of the full or partial inundation of a State or the relocation of its people should not change the general presumption in international law concerning the right to self-determination, including through statehood. To better address the range of climate impacts, the Council should work with the Peacebuilding Commission to ensure a systematic, preventative approach to climate risks. As well, it can consider climate, peace and security as a standalone agenda item. Reconsidering the issue would send a clear message that human security is part and parcel of security threats in the twenty-first century, he insisted.
AMIR SAEID IRAVANI (Iran) said that environmental challenges and climate change impacts confronting his country are worsened by the United States’ unilateral coercive measures. These “illegal measures” impede international funding, hinder renewable energy investments and restrict joint research opportunities. In this context, Iran — with United Nations support — is organizing the International Conference on Combating Sand and Dust Storms in September, aimed at bringing together all affected counties and interested partners. In this regard, he emphasized the importance of global cooperation and all nations’ commitment to tackle environmental issues, adding that developed countries should provide financial assistance and technology transfer to help developing countries implement their commitments. The latter — within their capabilities and national circumstances — should receive assistance from the international community and overcome obstacles hindering their commitments’ implementation. “Unilateral coercive measures must end immediately, as they pose barriers to countries’ contributions to climate change mitigation efforts,” he stressed. More so, the Council should refrain from encroaching upon the mandates of other organs, as it lacks the expertise and tools to respond to climate-related security risks, he said.
MUHAMMAD ABDUL MUHITH (Bangladesh) pointed out that climate change can obstruct smooth transitions in countries where peacekeeping operations and special political missions operate, thereby undermining efforts to build and sustain peace. While dealing with the negative impacts of climate change goes beyond the mandates of such operations, they can nevertheless play a potential supporting role to the host country. In many countries, for example, peacekeeping operations are helping host Governments to tackle the humanitarian consequences of natural disasters and other challenges such as farmer-herder conflicts and violence over land. However, in the absence of any clear and standard mandate, such issues should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis that accounts for on-the-ground realities. Moreover, the international community must support national authorities in building their institutions and strengthening their mitigation and adaptation efforts. In that regard, climate finance, technology transfer and capacity-building are crucial, as is the fulfilment of commitments by developed countries. He also underscored the importance of reducing the environmental footprint of all United Nations field missions and highlighted the advisory role of the Peacebuilding Commission as a fruitful mechanism to strengthen Council engagement.
LEONOR ZALABATA TORRES (Colombia), reaffirming her country’s commitment towards environmental justice and peace as a right, emphasized that “climate change goes beyond borders”. Climate crisis — constituting a common challenge of vast dimension — can act as a risk multiplier, undermining the very survival of rural families and threating the livelihoods of Afro-descendent groups in vulnerable situations. Moreover, by increasing the frequency of natural disasters, climate change leads to more displacement. In this context, Colombia wishes to build bridges for peace, protect life and fight against climate change and biodiversity loss, she said. Highlighting the need to tackle territorial threats and loss and damage related to climate change — especially regarding the most vulnerable countries — she said a model based on bio-economy will create more job opportunities. Turning to Colombia’s environmental potential, she described decarbonization as a deeply rooted change that can take place in the economic environmental system. “The time has come for humanity and not the markets to play a key role,” she asserted.
NJAMBI KINYUNGU (Kenya) pointed out that the climate crisis is transforming the global security landscape, producing new conflict drivers, amplifying fragility worldwide, creating environmental refugees, worsening socioeconomic conditions, damaging coastal infrastructure and fostering conflict. Without ambitious action, peace will wilt in the face of climate change’s destructive power, she warned, calling on the international community to direct all available resources to a multidimensional, United Nations-centred approach to climate action. In that regard, Council members should move past divisive narratives and recognize the strong connection between climate, peace and security. Consensus will not only drive urgent action but also foster conversations supporting practical peacekeeping and peacebuilding in the face of environmental and climate crises. Moreover, the Organization must leverage UNEP’s diverse expertise more effectively to better coordinate collective climate resilience and green economy efforts. Turning to COP28, she stressed that it must ensure that climate action and development finance are connected and that the loss and damage fund is operationalized. She also proposed aligning fund use in countries experiencing environmental insecurity and fragility with peacebuilding and political processes. She then invited Member States to Africa’s first Climate Action Summit in September 2023 in Nairobi.
BURHAN GAFOOR (Singapore), whose country is especially vulnerable to climate change’s impacts as a small and low-lying island nation, spotlighted the record temperatures across South-East Asia in recent months. As well, the climate crisis is compounding other crises — particularly food, water and energy — with severe impacts on peoples’ lives and livelihoods. Against this backdrop, it is clear that climate change has the potential to exacerbate instability and conflicts while undermining international peace and security. To assume its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, especially since its relevance and responsiveness depends on its ability and willingness to deal with the nexus between that and climate change, the Council should adopt a multidimensional approach towards climate security. It should also strongly encourage all countries to fulfil their commitments to multilateral climate change efforts — including the implementation of nationally determined contributions and long-term low-emissions development strategies under the Paris Agreement. Moreover, the organ should promote enhanced support for vulnerable developing countries — particularly small island developing States — to strengthen climate adaptation and resilience. Such support notably includes sustained investments in innovation, technologies and the development of climate-resilient water infrastructure, he pointed out.
PAULA NARVÁEZ OJEDA (Chile) said it has become clear that climate change is a “threat multiplier” that, when acting in combination with socioeconomic and/or geopolitical factors, aggravates the risk of violence and intensifies conflict factors, including food insecurity, economic crises and migration. Latin America and virtually all regions are experiencing the consequences of climate change. Further, peace operations are deployed in many environmentally vulnerable locations. Climate change is directly affecting armed forces and military installations, military operations and personnel. This means adaptation and mitigation measures must be adopted, especially regarding energy transformation and efficiency, at these sites. Armed forces are also increasingly being used to provide humanitarian assistance and act to counter extreme natural disasters. These activities include firefighting, medical evacuations and search-and-rescue operations. Cooperation in the international community is crucial. “Without this, any strictly national effort will be fruitless,” he said. Mechanisms for exchanging information between relevant agencies and bodies, including police, financial and terrorism prevention units, must be strengthened. He also urged greater attention to climate financing and that initiatives on climate change and international security include the views of local communities, Indigenous Peoples and civil society.
KRZYSZTOF MARIA SZCZERSKI (Poland), aligning himself with the Group of Friends of Climate and Security, underlined the importance of supporting regional and national partners on building the resilience of affected areas and preparing long-term strategies. The destruction of the dam in Nova Kakhovka is not only another example of the Russian Federation’s deliberate disregard for international law but also creates a serious threat for the safety of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, constituting a grave ecological disaster. Turning to the effects of climate change on the Organization’s peacekeeping capacities, he emphasized the need for systematic training efforts on the climate-security nexus to equip peacekeepers with the necessary skills to better understand climate-related challenges. He also voiced support for continued enhancement of peacekeeping and special political missions’ operational resilience to ensure effective and undisrupted mandate implementation at a minimal cost to the natural environment through utilizing modern technologies. Moreover, collaboration between the Organization’s peace and security architecture and its resident coordinators should be strengthened, as should the efforts to enhance resilience in conflict and post-conflict settings. For its part, the Council must urgently identify the additional measures needed for peacekeeping and special political missions to properly plan for and address climate-related security risks, he said.
OLOF SKOOG, Head of Delegation of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, noted that the climate crisis will drive conflicts for decades to come. He voiced support for the position of the Group of Friends on Climate and Security in favour of consideration of a regular report by the Secretary-General and for a dedicated United Nations envoy on climate and security. Climate and environment are an integral part of the European Union-United Nations Strategic Partnership Priorities for Peace Operations and Crisis Management in 2022-2024, with 13 of 22 current European Union civilian and military missions and operations deployed in parallel with United Nations missions, including in Mali, the Central African Republic, Somalia, Libya and Iraq. The bloc’s progressive deployment of environmental advisers to all its missions and operations will enable joint local capacity-building efforts, data sharing and management of the environmental footprint. He stressed that armed forces also have to contribute to the global target of net-zero by mid-century, following up on the Environment Strategy for Field Missions. The Union will soon adopt a joint communication on a new outlook on the climate and security nexus, which will address the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation on peace, security and defence.
MARITZA CHAN VALVERDE (Costa Rica) pointed out that the focus on climate, peace and security has neglected Latin America and the Caribbean and the region’s unique climate-related challenges and potential security implications. A clear example of this is the Central American Dry Corridor, which faces delayed and irregular rainy seasons, prolonged droughts, hurricanes, significant crop losses and increasing levels of food insecurity, which generate tension over management and access to water and land. Conflict prevention there requires both the attention of the international community and a comprehensive approach that combines sustainable land management practices, climate-resilient agriculture, equitable access to water resources and the root causes of resource scarcity and social disparities. She also emphasized the role of the Climate and Security Mechanism as a coordination platform in United Nations operations. It is further crucial to focus on women and children and their protection and empowerment and collect gender-desegregated data. Noting that a degraded climate also leads to legitimate impatience in anguished communities in the face of a security sector increasingly equipped for militarized responses, she stressed that if there has ever been a fight that cannot be resolved through force, it is this one.
MARTIN BILLE HERMANN (Denmark), also speaking for Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, said that it is possible to integrate climate in United Nations missions, while encouraging them to continue mainstreaming climate-related security risks into their assessments and strategies. Moreover, the advice from the Peacekeeping Commission can bring value to the Council’s deliberation on the peacebuilding implications of the adverse climate change effects. Underscoring the importance of ensuring full participation of women, youth and persons with disabilities in conflict-resolution, he said climate change underlines the absolute necessity of the women, peace and security and the youth, peace and security agendas.
Further, he suggested that the Council conduct field visits to countries facing security threats induced by climate change. Highlighting the need for increasing climate financing, he pointed out that it should be climate sensitive. Turning to the importance of energy transition in peace operations, he recalled that peacekeeping missions — mandated by the Council — are the main emitters of greenhouse gasses. Only 6 per cent of their energy supply comes from renewable energy, he added.
SURIYA CHINDAWONGSE (Thailand) stressed that multilateralism and international cooperation are the only viable solutions to address climate change and its negative impacts on human security and the long-term stability of States, communities and the planet. In that regard, the world must uphold the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change as well as the Paris Agreement while respecting the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. As well, it must respect equity as the cornerstone of global climate governance. Developing countries in particular need means of implementation and support to enhance their resilience, he stressed, echoing the Secretary-General’s call for developed countries to deliver $100 billion annually, replenish the Green Climate Fund and deliver on their finance commitments. Within United Nations peacekeeping and peacebuilding operations, all must promote more effective measures to reduce environmental footprints. His Government notably encourages policies that enable societies and communities overcoming conflict to be better prepared. Since countries in conflict may encounter shortfalls in their climate change mitigation and adaptation capacities, the Council should focus on climate change-induced risks in country-specific settings to mobilize greater resources and support from the international community.
ANA PAULA ZACARIAS (Portugal), aligning herself with the European Union and the Group of Friends on Climate and Security, encouraged the Council to regularly consider climate change’s consequences on peace and security. The United Nations system — the best placed platform to promote a cooperative and coordinated response — must work coherently to better prevent, prepare for and respond to climate change’s security implications. For its part, the Council must work towards a comprehensive approach to address security impacts and risks; develop early-warning mechanisms; and further integrate climate-related security issues in its resolutions. Since climate action can also be a tool of conflict prevention, resolution and peacebuilding, there should be an alignment between development and peacebuilding efforts to promote climate resilience and adaptation. In that vein, the Peacebuilding Fund has an important role to bring climate finance to conflict-afflicted areas. Recognizing that the Council should more systematically integrate climate-related security risks into its work does not mean that other fora would lose their roles nor does it entail a “securitization” of the issue, she underscored.
CORNEL FERUȚĂ (Romania) warned against the immediate effects of climate change, pointing to the recent unusual effects of wildfires in New York. “We cannot afford to lose time or lives,” he said, stressing the need to find best remedies to climate change. Sea level rise is a direct negative effect of climate change, provoking new legal questions, he stressed, adding that the International Law Commission agrees that climate change-related sea-level rise poses a real risk to two thirds of Member States. The Council’s action is needed to reduce climate change as a risk multiplier and one of the drivers of insecurity.
BASSAM SABBAGH (Syria), aligning himself with the Arab Group, said climate change also has socioeconomic and security aspects, especially for developing countries. It is important to counter and mitigate them, including through mechanisms in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement. His country has experienced droughts, while other areas have suffered from intense rainstorms destroying crops, heatwaves, forest fires and sandstorms. The terrorist war on Syria has also had an impact, including through pollution generated by separatist and terror groups, especially in careless oil refinery activities with indiscriminate soil contamination and deforestation. He further cited illegal unilateral coercive measures imposed on the Syrian people by Western States, which have hindered the transfer of technology needed to protect the environment, also creating obstacles to development.
CARLA MARIA RODRÍGUEZ MANCIA (Guatemala) expressed support for the integration of the climate perspective into the United Nations peace and security pillar, noting that the Council should integrate climate-security evaluations into all obligatory reports it provides on situations in its agenda. Moreover, it should be able to systematically evaluate meteorological forecasts and outline risks with the help of regional and national climate perspectives. Turning to the Secretary-General’s initiative on the early warning for all, she said Guatemala was included in the first group of countries to work on it. Given the country’s experience on the ground, she spotlighted the impact of the climate change on the capacity of special political missions and peacekeeping operations. Underscoring the importance of tacking climate migration from the interdisciplinary perspective to prevent its negative effects, she called for the development of a new common agenda and a new agenda for peace.
MAX HUFANEN RAI (Papua New Guinea), speaking for a group of States, said that Pacific Islands Forum Leaders have repeatedly confirmed that climate change remains the greatest existential threat for the Blue Pacific. While the Leaders have also declared a climate emergency in the Pacific, the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent recognized the need for responding to climate change. Through the Boe Declaration on Regional Security, the Forum has outlined the necessity of building resilience, adding: “We are on the frontline of this fight, and we need your support before it is too late.” Since 2021, the Pacific Islands Forum has attended three Council leader-level debates on climate security and a ministerial-level open debate on the impact of sea-level rise on international peace and security, he reported, noting that Nauru co-chairs the Group of Friend of Climate and Security. Welcoming the enhanced cooperatiokadryn between the peace and security activities of the United Nations and the Pacific Islands Forum, he called on the Council to appoint a special rapporteur to produce a regular review of global, regional and national security threats caused by climate change.
AKAN RAKHMETULLIN (Kazakhstan) urged the Council to incorporate a climate focus in all its peacekeeping mandates with measures based on scientific evidence concerning early warning, information management and the formulation of future road maps. He also noted that his country supports the efforts of the United Nations to introduce its field staff to climate, peace and security concepts; explore how to address climate-related security risks; and leverage climate-informed activities for peace. Of great relevance is to build them into the women and youth, peace and security agendas. Likewise, proactive steps should be undertaken by the Peacebuilding Commission and the Peacebuilding Fund. Just as climate change can aggravate sources of social tension, so too can action around climate serve as a platform for peacebuilding and resilience efforts towards the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, he underscored, spotlighting his country’s experience in that regard.
ANDREJS PILDEGOVIČS (Latvia) said that wars and armed conflicts put the opportunity to secure a sustainable future further out-of-reach. This is evident in the Russian Federation’s war of aggression against Ukraine that has killed tens of thousands, displaced millions, caused widespread environmental damage and created a toxic legacy. The destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam in Ukraine by the Russian Federation is the most recent devastating example that has prompted another humanitarian crisis and an environmental disaster of proportions that are only gradually being revealed. “What is clear for all to see, nature too is a casualty of Russia’s war,” he said. He also noted his delegation is pleased to co-sponsor the General Assembly resolution requesting an Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice on climate change. By integrating climate change considerations into its conflict-prevention, conflict-resolution and peacebuilding efforts, the Council would be better attuned to a world facing a climate crisis. Climate risks are context-specific and missions mandated by the Council should have the capabilities to fully understand the context in which they operate, how to address the climate-related risks and contribute to building resilience. More systematic integration of climate risk management and resilience strategies into conflict prevention and peacebuilding efforts is needed, he said.
JOONKOOK HWANG (Republic of Korea), aligning himself with the Group of Friends on Climate and Security, reiterated the calls on the Council to systematically address the climate, peace and security nexus. While his Government encourages the 15-nation organ to further integrate a climate lens into all relevant mandates, it also notes that it still lacks systematic gateways to support regions and countries. In that regard, he stressed that it is high time for the Council to request the Secretary-General’s report on climate change’s implications on peace and security in all parts of the world. By integrating the climate risks analysis accumulated within the United Nations system, the new report could map fragile situations, identify areas requiring urgent attention and provide context-specific recommendations on conflict prevention and mediation. Since climate change knows no borders, the Council and the Secretariat should consider stronger mandates for regional political missions to develop prevention strategies and early warning systems. Efforts should also be made to secure sustained financing to increase the number of climate security advisers and enable their continuous work, he added.
ALYA AHMED SAIF AL-THANI (Qatar), associating herself with the Arab Group and the Group of Friends on Climate and Security, detailed her country’s initiatives aimed at addressing climate change and achieving sustainable development. Specifically, she drew attention to Qatar’s National Action Plan to mitigate the impact of climate change and to reduce emissions. Least developed countries are susceptible to the adverse impacts of climate change, and it is therefore crucial to build their capacities and resilience, including through mitigation and adaptation measures. Advocating for a comprehensive approach to strengthening peace, security and human rights to address climate change obligations, she recalled that the World Cup hosted by Qatar in 2022 was the first World Cup free of carbon emissions and the most eco-friendly championship.
LAURA MARIE OLSON, Permanent Observer for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, stressed that the focus must be on communities most impacted and at risk, especially those in fragile settings. In that regard, there must be a focus on community leadership, ownership and reach. Investing in large-scale disaster risk reduction, climate mitigation and adaptation at the community level has the greatest potential impact. Local organizations in particular are critical for the design and implementation of climate action while channelling climate finance to the right places — to those most in need. The international community must also fill the financing gap and change how it finances climate action so that the needs of communities are at the centre. It must also scale up early warning and early action systems that provide communities with information and funding to act before climate events become disasters. This notably entails giving local organizations more direct access to finance and decision-making processes, she emphasized.
FATIMA KYARI MOHAMMED, African Union, said the bloc remains committed to global efforts on climate change, given Africa is one of the most affected continents but one of the regions that has contributed the least to greenhouse gas emissions. Many regions are vulnerable to extreme weather patterns including droughts, floods, heat waves, cyclones, rising sea levels and rainfall pattern shifts. Food insecurity and climate-induced displacement are generating large numbers of internally displaced persons and refugees, creating complex humanitarian situations in addition to those related to conflict. All of this poses a major challenge to African efforts at silencing the guns and achieving Agenda 2063. The African Union Peace and Security Council has highlighted the need for an informed climate security nexus for Africa, indicating it as a threat multiplier to the peace and security landscape.
In terms of prevention, the African Union Commission is mainstreaming climate change in all its activities, she continued. Turning to the gender perspective, she noted the perpetuation of entrenched gender inequalities. In the Sahel region, women contribute to 40 per cent of agricultural production, 80 per cent of processing and 70 per cent of agricultural distribution and labour, while continuing to face systematic violence that intensifies during conflicts and wars that are sometimes aggravated by climate change. She emphasized the dire need for a gender sensitive approach to mitigation and peacekeeping efforts. Further, climate financing must be scaled up to meet the ambitious goals as outlined in the Paris Agreement, for current and future efforts in that domain.
TESFAYE YILMA SABO (Ethiopia), pointing to his country’s perennial drought and extreme flooding, said that climate change is impacting its water resources and degrading its soil. He noted that the securitization of climate change will impact the hard-earned consensus within the Climate Change Framework Agreement and will subject developing countries’ development efforts and natural resource utilization to unnecessary security considerations. Such an approach will shift the blame and the fault attribution to countries and communities that experience conflicts instead of the polluters. While encouraging the international community to decrease emissions, implement climate finance commitments for mitigation and resilience and invest in national forecasting and prevention efforts, he also invited Member States to support the African Union’s Great Green Wall Initiative. In addition, the country has a Green Legacy Initiative — that resulted in the planting of billions of trees — launched in 2018 by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
EOGHAN MCSWINEY (Ireland), associating himself with the European Union and the Group of Friends on Climate and Security, pointed out that the more fragile a country is, the less climate finance it has received. While keeping temperatures to 1.5°C is the last, best hope of mitigating the climate crisis’ most severe impacts, this cannot be done without deep, rapid and sustained emissions reductions. “Time is rapidly running out for us to act,” he stressed. Yet, this is only one part of the solution — there must urgently be a concerted multilateral response. Beyond doing more to better understand climate-related security risks, the Council has a duty to use all the tools at its disposal to address climate change where it is exacerbating instability and undermining peace and security. Anything less would be a betrayal of its responsibility, he cautioned, adding: “The question of whether the Security Council should factor the security risks of climate change into its decision-making is no longer a matter of if, but when.”
AGUSTÍN SANTOS MARAVER (Spain), associating himself with the European Union and the Group of Friends on Climate and Security, underlined the need for the Council to adopt a more systematic approach. He voiced his regret that the organ was unable to reach an agreement on the related draft resolution in December 2021; spotlighted his Government’s efforts in recognizing the link between climate change, peace and security; and joined others in requesting more concrete and tangible actions. Among such included the appointment of a special envoy and the implementation of early warning systems, conflict prevention and peacebuilding. Initiatives to integrate climate considerations into analysis, planning, prevention, mediation and peacebuilding strategies do not undermine the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change but rather complement the work of the system’s various bodies, he emphasized. History’s experience of the “little ice age” in the seventeenth century must be remembered in terms of its consequences on agricultural production which affected the entire planet and resulted in conflicts. A similar effect is already being felt by farmers in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent, he pointed out.
OMAR HILALE (Morocco), stressing that climate change is not a theoretical matter, said his country is in a region where the recurrence of drought episodes and the rate of soil degradation pose a real challenge. In Africa, millions of hectares are threatened by desertification due to the advancing of the desert, which progresses in certain regions at a rate of 5 kilometres per year. Indeed, land degradation is a multiplier of vulnerabilities, leading to the instability of populations. The areas in the grip of extreme degradation of climatic conditions are often those where conflicts break out, where populations are displaced and where terrorist and separatist groups seek to infiltrate. Accordingly, he detailed Morocco’s efforts in the fight against climate change. Given its responsibility for maintaining international peace and security, the Council has a crucial role to play, he said, also expressing support for the efforts to reduce the environmental footprint of peacekeeping operations.
JEANNE MRAD (Lebanon), spotlighting climate change’s increasingly clear consequences, which reach the very heart of the security agenda, pointed out that the Arab world is among the most affected regions. Sixty-three per cent of its fertile lands are highly vulnerable to climate fluctuations, entailing increased dependence on imports in already highly indebted countries. Two thirds of freshwater resources cross one or more international boundaries, potentially aggravating conflict in the absence of peaceful settlements based on international law. And warming in the Middle East region is twice the global average and will be 4°C warmer by 2050 — meaning many cities may become uninhabitable before the end of the century. “Is it wars which impact climate change or climate change as multiplier effect in fuelling civil wars and other armed conflicts?”, she asked, answering that what is clear is their mutually reinforcing nature. Unstable climate is an emerging security threat that must be met with greater ambition and urgency, she stressed.
BRETT JONATHAN MILLER (Israel) said that climate change, shortage of resources and lack of coordinated development policies leaves the Middle East and the Sahel region vulnerable to security challenges. Reporting that Hizbullah has expanded its terror domination in south Lebanon under the guise of the environmental organization “Green without Borders”, he said the group uses this organization as a front for its activities at Israel’s northern border and from within the area of operations of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). The Abraham Accords paved the way for cooperation in a variety of the fields in the region, he said, underlining the importance of regional partnerships in renewable energy, water, nature and food security. He also reported that through the “Prosperity Blue and Green Project”, Israel — together with Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, and with the support of the United States — plans to build solar plants and export desalinated water. It also shares climate-related knowledge through its Agency for International Development and Cooperation “MASHAV”.
ABDULAZIZ M. ALWASIL (Saudi Arabia) said there is no doubt that unifying international efforts to implement the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement is a balanced approach to the issue. Rising sea levels threaten all countries, especially developing countries, small island developing States and least developed countries. In view of that, Saudi Arabia has launched two initiatives — Green Saudi Arabia and Green Middle East — implementing a circular carbon economy, planting trees and protecting coral reefs. Key pillars for energy transition include energy security, economic development and climate change, each of which must be achieved equally. He called for technology and solutions, with financing for promising initiatives. Saudi Arabia has increased its national contribution by reducing emissions by 278 tons per year by 2030 — more than double what was announced in 2015. The Government also has an ambitious plan to ensure net zero emissions by 2060, has joined the Global Methane Pledge to reduce emissions, is committed to generating 50 per cent of electricity from renewable sources by 2030 and is planting 10 billion trees across the country.
AMATLAIN ELIZABETH KABUA (Marshall Islands), speaking for the Pacific small island developing States and aligning herself with the Pacific Islands Forum, once again stressed that climate change is the single greatest challenge facing their island homes. While the Pacific Island countries are the smallest contributors to global climate change, their way of life faces extinction. Rising sea levels, ocean acidification and the increased prevalence of extreme weather events imposes undue constraints on economies, food supplies and natural environments. “We represent the canary in the coal mine for what is to come if concrete action is not taken by transitioning from fossil fuels towards renewable energy and scaling up climate finance in the realms of adaptation and mitigation,” she said.
More so, people in her regions are 15 times more likely to die from a climate related impact, with rising sea levels inundating coastal villages and causing displacement and forced migration, she continued. The fiscal capacity required to address such issues comes at the cost of investment in development, health, education, and social services. An expanded definition of security must inform the Council’s work in fulfilling its mandate. Calling for the Security Council to appoint a special rapporteur to produce a regular review of the holistic global, regional and national peace and security implications of climate change, she underscored that the Council must consider climate-related risks in the execution of all peacekeeping and special political missions. She also reiterated the call for an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on the obligations of States with respect to climate change.
SARHAD SARDAR ABDULRAHMAN FATAH (Iraq) said that the Framework Convention on Climate Change is the appropriate forum to discuss climate-change related topics, while noting that the Council’s open debate serves as a preventive measure to avert potential crises at national, regional and global levels. Expressing concern over the basins of major rivers in the Middle East being subjected to tremendous strain due to the competition over the use and control of resources in the absence of viable agreements and frameworks and climate change, he drew attention to the land degradation in Shatt al-Arab, where the legend of Sindbad the Sailor takes place and where the Garden of Eden — described in the holy books — is located. It is the prime example of the fertile soil being transformed into a saltwater area. In this context, he recalled that Iraq recently hosted the third Baghdad International Water Conference and the Food and Agriculture (FAO) Regional Conference for the Near East.
KHRYSTYNA HAYOVYSHYN (Ukraine) noted that even before the Russian Federation’s aggression, Ukraine suffered from climate change implications including flooding and desertification, food and water insecurity, deforestation and biodiversity loss. The war has aggravated such climate-related threats. According to information from her delegation at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change summit in Egypt last November, the war led directly to emissions of 33 million tons of greenhouse gases from forest and agricultural fires, as well as the oil burnt after Russian attacks on storage depots. There is a two-way nexus between climate change and conflicts, and the war against her country has shown that the deliberate violation of international humanitarian law as a military strategy has clear climate implications. On 6 June, the Russian Federation blew up the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Plant dam, which led to the largest man-made disaster in Europe in decades, effectively depriving the Kherson region of 94 per cent of its irrigation systems. In 2021, these systems provided irrigation for 5,840 square kilometres of agricultural land, where about 4 million tons of grain and oilseed crops were harvested. Quoting Under-Secretary-General Martin Griffiths, she noted this may be the most awful shock to the people of Ukraine and the Global South because it is bound to have an effect on food security; the “breadbasket” of Ukraine is most certainly going to be affected. Moscow’s aggressive behaviour continues to multiply conflicts and thus undermines the ability to concentrate on resolving climate-related global threats, she said.
JAIME HERMIDA CASTILLO (Nicaragua), stressing that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change — and not the Council — is the appropriate platform, pointed out that the topic of climate change is more related to the right to development. As a result, it should be considered by the General Assembly. Developed countries in particular must refrain from their unsustainable patterns of production and consumption, fulfil their commitments and, among other things, transfer technologies. If they do not compensate countries such as small island developing States which are seeing their futures compromised, there will be no climate justice in the world, he underscored, also spotlighting the sensitive situations of various regions in the world, including his own. As such, his Government has advocated for the implementation of all climate justice commitments based on the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities.
JEEM LIPPWE (Federated States of Micronesia), associating himself with the Group of Friends on Climate and Security, the Pacific Island Forum and the Pacific small island developing States, stressed the need to take bold measures to limit global warming and to stay below 1.5°C. It is impossible to prevent all the negative impacts of climate change, especially in fragile contexts, such as small island developing States, he said, noting the importance of investing in adaptation measures to build resilience and address loss and damage. Highlighting the crucial role of the Security Council in this regard, he welcomed the progress in the growing recognition of the effects of climate change vis-à-vis mandates for peacekeeping missions. Calling for tangible action, he said the Secretary-General should appoint a Special Representative for Climate, Peace and Security who could strengthen coordination between relevant United Nations entities to improve the organizations’ ability to address climate-related security risks. He also said the use of climate-related early warning systems should incorporate conflict prevention, mediation and peacebuilding.
MARC GERARD C. BOUTHÉ (Belgium), aligning himself with the European Union and the Group of Friends on Climate and Security, voiced his support for the Council’s attempts to mainstream security-climate risks by systematically taking them into account within its mandates. Appointing a special envoy would enhance the Organization’s approach and the Secretary-General’s early warning initiative can prevent the most severe impacts of climate-related events while playing an important role in the chain of conflict prevention, he stressed. As well, there should be regular comprehensive reports from the Secretary-General on the climate, peace and security issue to allow the Council to focus on the most affected countries and regions. On United Nations missions, he urged them to reduce their carbon footprints where possible. Expressing his regret over the lack of consensus on the link between climate and security, he said he hopes the voices of countries hosting operations and missions will be accounted for and will lead to the publication of a presidential statement on the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) and the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA).
MICHAEL IMRAN KANU (Sierra Leone) noted that during its tenure in the Security Council for the term 2024-2025, his country will prioritize the continuing consideration and engagement on climate security and risks as an imperative. The Council should take a more integrated approach to conflict resolution in order to address the root causes of conflict, including climate change, and should make climate change a central focus of its deliberations on conflict prevention, resolution, and peacebuilding. He further called for integrating climate change into mandates for United Nations missions in climate-fragile settings, working with local communities to build resilience to climate change and supporting Governments to develop climate-resilient policies. He added that the Council can better promote the perspectives and voices of those most impacted, particularly women and children, to inform inclusive, gender-sensitive approaches to climate change, peace and security, by engaging with civil society and nongovernmental organizations that work with women and children affected by climate change.
EVANGELOS SEKERIS (Greece), aligning with the European Union, underlined the importance of assessing climate change impacts on maritime security, especially since rising sea levels and marine degradation threaten coastal communities’ livelihoods. The international community must cooperate towards upgrading its scientific knowledge base, which will lead to improved risk assessments and more effective field-level policies so as to better comprehend, integrate, anticipate and manage climate change’s impacts on international security. At the same time, it needs to improve its awareness of climate-related security risks. Climate security concerns must be integrated into early warning and conflict prevention systems, with a view to strengthening foresight capabilities to anticipate new security and geopolitical challenges. Also important are the establishment of ambitious climate policies and the fulfilment of the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda. “By integrating and combining actions and policies on climate, development and security, we can ensure the best possible outcome, delivered on multiple levels,” he said.
LAETITIA MARIE ISABELLE COURTOIS, Permanent Observer of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said the natural environment — which has certain protections under international humanitarian law — continues to be a “silent casualty of war”, with consequences of environmental damage for conflict-affected populations. Additionally, based on its civilian character, any part of the natural environment that is not a military objective is also protected against incidental damage. Humanitarian organizations like ICRC have a responsibility to reduce the impacts of crises and strengthen people’s resilience to growing risks in conflict settings. Underscoring that climate action can provide entry points for peacebuilding, she reported that today, 60 per cent of the 25 countries most vulnerable to climate change and with the least adaptation capacity are affected by armed conflict. This impacts all dimensions of people’s lives, from their safety and health to their food, water and economic security. As conflicts and fragility tend to last for decades, waiting for stability to address climate risks is not a viable option, particularly when the risks themselves are a contributing factor towards new instability. Accordingly, humanitarian action is a vital component in fragmented environments, but it is far from the only ingredient to achieve sustainable peace, she said, adding that longer-term systemic shifts are needed to empower resilient populations and ensure protection from greater and more frequent climate shocks.
JAMAL FARES ALROWAIEI (Bahrain) said that his country has enshrined the sustainable development principle in its national strategies, including in its 2030 strategic national plan. The country has also announced its carbon-neutrality by 2060, while it also intends to reduce emissions by 30 per cent by 2025. Through its energy-efficiency strategies, Bahrain seeks to double its renewable energy sources, as it studies sea-level rise on the coast and drafts a long-term plan of respective priorities. In this context, he welcomed Saudi Arabia’s Middle East Green Initiative, noting that his Government has taken steps in the framework of the Middle East initiative and joined in other strategic initiatives in the region. Underscoring the importance of adopting a comprehensive global prevention approach to tackle new security challenges stemming from climate change, he said Bahrain will speed up its work to achieve peace.
FAISAL GH A. T. M. ALENEZI (Kuwait), highlighting the link between the stability of regions and climate change, recalled that, since the beginning of the 1970s, the world has witnessed more than 11,000 climate crises, mostly in countries that are underdeveloped economically or infrastructure-wise. This has claimed the lives of millions, injured tens of millions and displaced countless. Noting the direct and indirect impact of climate change on small island developing States, he said that their economic development slows down and they sustain major development losses. Climate events have impeded the development of countries around the world, including unprecedented cyclones in South-East Asia and South-East Africa. In recent history, Europe has experienced destructive floods and drought has affected the livelihood of people in the Horn of Africa. Stressing the need to ensure adaptation to help countries in need alleviate the impact of climate change, he spotlighted regional initiatives, especially the Middle East Green Initiative launched by Saudi Arabia. Detailing numerous infrastructure projects implemented by his Government, he said oil extraction volumes in Kuwait are the lowest-carbon emitting processes in the world. He also reiterated his country’s commitment to ensuring carbon neutrality in the energy sector by 2050 and in all sectors by 2060.
DAVID BAKRADZE (Georgia), aligning himself with the European Union, cited the latest example of the harm caused by conflicts: the consequences of the war of aggression waged by the Russian Federation against Ukraine, which leads to environmental disaster. Condemning the detonation of the dam of the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant located in the temporarily occupied territory of the Kherson region of Ukraine, he stressed that Georgia itself has a bitter experience of environmental damage — as occupation of 20 per cent of its territories by the Russian Federation creates particular challenges in natural resource security. Main water collectors of the irrigation systems are under control of the occupation regime, causing major problems in Georgia’s drought-stricken regions. The continued installation and advancement of razor and barbed wire fences and artificial barriers along the occupation line, continue to have a negative impact on the already poor socioeconomic conditions of the conflict-affected population and their sense of security, while also preventing their access to property, grazing and farming lands. He noted that Georgia has developed a long-term (until 2050) low emission development strategy, and in January 2020, established the Inter-Ministerial Multidisciplinary Council on Climate Change to increase climate governance and support implementation of the Paris Agreement.
YOKA BRANDT (Netherlands), aligning herself with the European Union and the Group of Friends on Climate and Security, underlined the need to integrate climate-related security risks in United Nations conflict-prevention strategies and early warning tools. As well, the international community must further mainstream climate in the Organization’s peacebuilding architecture. By supporting field missions, United Nations resident coordinators and regional organizations on conducting climate security risk assessments and risk management strategies, the Climate Security Mechanism notably enhances knowledge about climate-related security risks on both peacebuilding and peacekeeping efforts. Deploying climate, peace and security advisers in field operations can generate a profound impact on lasting peace, she added. “Millions around the world are currently living in fragile societies and the effects of climate change threaten to add fuel to the fire — these millions look to the Security Council for bold steps and concrete action,” she pointed out, stressing: “Let us not fail them.”
IVAN ŠIMONOVIĆ (Croatia), associating himself with the European Union, said that as climate change is a non-traditional threat to security, it is difficult for traditional military structures to recognize it and deal with it. More so, this threat focuses on the relationship between human civilization and the biosphere and not on the relationships between States. Pointing to the heavy imprint of the traditional peacekeeping missions and lack of training to deal with non-traditional threats, he said the Council has been trying to include reporting on climate-related risks in some of its missions. “This should become a norm rather than an exception,” he stressed. As the Peacebuilding Commission’s Chair, he said many Central African countries identify climate change as a threat amplifier, leading to conflicts between farmers and herders, including forced displacement. “Peacekeeping missions are not of much help in these situations, nor is that their mandate,” he observed, underscoring the need for civilian, light footprint missions that may include environmental security advisers.