9547th Meeting (resumed) (PM)

Speakers Urge Bold Action to Address Damaging Effect of Climate Crisis, Food Insecurity on Vulnerable, Conflict-Affected Countries, as Security Council Concludes Open Debate

The Security Council today concluded its open debate on climate change and food insecurity, with speakers calling for urgent action to address the profound impact of these escalating crises particularly on vulnerable and conflict-affected nations.

The representative of the Maldives said that for small island developing States — the first and hardest hit by its impact — “climate change is a humanitarian issue as much as it is a security issue”.  Unprecedented tidal waves, coastal erosion and increased frequency of natural disasters directly impact the livelihoods of its people.  Against this backdrop, he underscored the need to strengthen climate mitigation and adaptation efforts, and to address the root causes of the ongoing crises and conflicts.

“Addressing the root causes of conflict cannot be overemphasized,” added Ethiopia’s delegate, stressing that eradicating extreme poverty by accelerating sustainable growth and development is extremely crucial.  Climate-driven food insecurity will pose a serious challenge to humanity unless global warming is addressed, he warned.  Calling for greater national ambition to achieve the goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to fulfil climate financing commitments, he said bolstering agricultural finance to enhance production and productivity for climate action and food security is vital.

South Sudan’s delegate pointed out that climate change accelerates conflicts by intensifying competition for vital resources and makes populations more susceptible to radicalization and recruitment by armed groups.  It also makes States fragile as food crises strain economies, she said, urging the international community to invest in sustainable agriculture and food security — keystones of global peace.  “Bearing witness to the intricate dance between conflict, hunger and environmental upheaval, South Sudan remains resilient, but we cannot face these challenges alone,” she said, calling for investment in peacebuilding, climate adaptation, humanitarian solidarity, sustainable peace and development.

Likewise, the delegate for Haiti — where more than 44 per cent of the population is suffering “acute food insecurity” — called on international partners to further support national production and provide farmers with agricultural equipment, seeds, fertilizer and support for agricultural cooperatives.  In addition, support for rebuilding infrastructure and irrigation channels will help reduce the level of food insecurity and address unemployment.

Describing her country’s efforts in that regard, Israel’s representative spoke of an agricultural expert who has empowered impoverished farmers around the world to eradicate hunger, while a non-governmental organization she founded provided about 1 million people with reliable sources of food and sustainable income.  On 7 October 2023, she was taken hostage by Hamas along with six family members, while her husband was killed by the militant group.  Today, Israel is a pioneer in the development of alternative proteins, which in the coming years will form one of the world’s most crucial strategies to increase food security and reduce global poverty.

Brazil’s representative — among the 88 speakers who addressed the Council during the two-day debate — pointed out that the 15-member body lacks the mandate to address climate change and ensure adequate tools for climate finance and means of implementation.  The climate change regime, grounded in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Paris agreement, is based on balance, transparency and inclusivity, with decisions made by consensus.  This is not the case for the Council.

Tonga’s representative, speaking for the Pacific Islands Forum, said that climate change is now the greatest threat to livelihoods for small island developing States — and accordingly deserves a standing consideration in the Council.  He warned that land will become uninhabitable long before it goes underwater.  Climate change could ignite social unrest, exacerbate tensions and force populations to migrate, destabilizing the Pacific region — where the reality of climate-related displacement is evident — and beyond.

Also calling for the Council’s greater involvement, Georgia’s representative said climate change impacts on security should be placed on its conflict prevention agenda and become the subject of in-depth analysis.  He shed light on his country’s experience with conflict, noting that around half a million Georgian citizens were expelled from occupied regions due to ethnic cleansing by the Russian Federation, devastating the agricultural industry and infrastructure.  The continued installation of razor-wire fences along the occupation line has worsened the socioeconomic conditions of the conflict-affected population, hindering their access to property, grazing and farming lands.

The representative of Nauru, speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends on Climate and Security, urged all relevant UN peacekeeping and special political missions to systematically incorporate climate change and disaster risk into their mandates, while encouraging all missions to reduce their environmental footprint.   The Secretary-General should also provide regular monitoring and reporting to the Council on the peace and security impacts of climate change.  Climate, peace and security advisers should be appointed to relevant UN missions and regional and subregional organizations, within existing resources.  She also called for appointing a special representative on the matter to enhance coordination between relevant UN entities and improve the Organization’s ability to address climate-related security risks.

The speaker for the United Arab Emirates said that “interventions focused on the most fragile and conflict-affected areas and communities will yield multifold peace dividends”.  He referenced the declaration on climate relief, recovery and peace endorsed by over 80 States during the Twenty-eighth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28), which offers a menu of targeted policy interventions for multisectoral financial and technical support.  Investment in climate resilience and adaptation mechanisms remain the most effective tools to reduce food insecurity and instability in areas most impacted by extreme weather patterns, he stressed, highlighting the need for improved coordination across the development, humanitarian, climate and peace sectors.

Similarly, Myanmar’s delegate said that the nexus of climate change, food insecurity and conflict needs to be addressed holistically through comprehensive national policy planning and international cooperation.  His country is at risk of severe climate-related events, including cyclones, flooding and drought, posing a persistent threat to food security as rural farming communities struggle to mitigate their impacts.  However, he emphasized that these issues can be addressed sustainably until Myanmar’s people eradicate the military dictatorship.

Offering the perspective of a humanitarian organization, the Permanent Observer for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) stressed that climate action in conflict settings is particularly weak due to the challenges attached to enabling comprehensive climate adaption in unstable environments.  “This needs to urgently change,” she said, pointing out that a better respect for international humanitarian law in armed conflicts will reduce the cost of war.

To reduce damage inflicted on the environment, she called for an urgent shift in how wars are fought.  International humanitarian law sets legal limits on the damage that warring parties can inflict on the environment.  Ensuring respect for these rules can limit environmental degradation and thus reduce the harmful consequences it can generate, including food insecurity, she said.  It is also crucial to ensure food provision and access to essential resources throughout conflict.  “Even after the guns go silent, impacted regions struggle to recover from the devastating legacy of wars,” she said, adding that in many places, rebuilding livelihoods is hampered by unexploded ordnance, crippled economies and repeated climate hardships.

For information media. Not an official record.