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Speech by Foreign Minister Heiko Maas at the Meeting of the Group of Friends on Climate and Security - 26 September 2018

26.09.2018 - Pressemitteilung

Mr. President,

Madam Deputy Secretary-General,

Distinguished colleagues,


Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very pleased to welcome you to this first meeting of the Group of Friends on Climate and Security at the political level.

First, thanks to Nauru and especially to you, President Waqa, for co-chairing this group. Your country, Mr. President, is a vivid example of the harsh realities of climate change. Nauru is threatened by rising sea levels, ocean acidification and increasingly frequent and violent storms.

The Small Island Developing States are among the countries most affected by climate change. A special focus on overcoming or at least mitigating these challenges in the SIDS is of vital importance. It is for these reasons that we met in New York six months ago and that we will continue to pay special attention to your particularly serious situation.

Climate change destabilizes societies and thus increases security risks. It increases the fragility of states and entire regions and, in the worst case, destabilizes them. Environmental changes, in particular the deterioration of resources, also shape migration patterns around the globe — both sudden, large-scale displacement and slow-onset migration.

There is a clear and undeniable connection between climate change and risks to peace and security.

As a Group of Friends, we are not starting the debate from square one. In recent years, we have made good progress, building on the Presidential Statement of the Security Council of 2011.

Much of the recent progress is thanks to our Swedish colleagues who convened a debate on climate and security in the UN Security Council only a few weeks ago. To my dear colleague, Margot Wallström, I would like to convey my sincere gratitude for your excellent work over the last two years.

We want to build on these achievements and take this further during our time on the Security Council and in the UN System overall. Three areas of action come to mind:

 First, we want to continue mainstreaming the issue of climate and security throughout the Council’s agenda wherever it is appropriate.

 Second, this in turn requires the Council to have access to better early warning through an improved information base.

 Third, sustainable development remains the best way of preventing conflict – that is precisely what the Agenda 2030 stands for and why its implementation is crucial. The complete implementation of the Paris Agreement remains essential.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

let me be absolutely clear here. We do not want to interfere with the mandate of any other institution. We do not want to duplicate existing structures. We do not want to weaken the role of other fora or overstretch the mandate of the Security Council.

But we are convinced that it is indispensable for the Security Council to deal with the impact of climate change on peace and security as it has the “primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security” as the UN Charter puts it.

As a candidate for the Security Council, we identified climate and security as one of our priority topics. We will honor our campaign promise.

Our co-operation in the Group of Friends on Climate and Security is part of this commitment.

Thank you very much!

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