United Nations Security Council Ministerial Open Debate on threats to International Peace and Security: Sea-Level Rise – Implications for International Peace and Security, 15 February 2023

15.02.2023 - Speech

The Statement was delivered by Ambassador Deiye of Nauru

I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Group of Friends on Climate and Security: a broad and diverse group of over 60 States from all regions of the world. On behalf of the group, let me first congratulate Malta on assuming the Presidency of the United Nations Security Council and extend our appreciation for convening this open debate on the important topic of Sea-Level Rise and its implications for International Peace and Security.

Sea-level rise, fueled by climate change, poses a substantial threat to island nations and coastal communities around the world. An average sea level rise of between 25cm to 58cm, is predicted already by the middle of this century along the coastlines of island states. Depending on temperature scenarios, it is estimated that between 130 million to half a billion people live in areas, that will be submerged in the long run. This would be devasting particularly for the Small Islands Developing States, where one-third of the population live below five metres above sea level.

To contain this threat, it is essential that the global community accelerates its efforts to adapt and mitigate climate change and keeps a 1.5 degrees celsius limit to temperature rise within reach. To this end, States must take ambitious actions in their implementation of the Paris Agreement and decisions under the Paris Agreement, including the Glasgow Climate Pact and the Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan.

Measures must also be taken to fast-track women’s full, equal and meaningful participation in preventing and addressing climate-affected conflicts in relation to sea-level rise. We also need to enhance efforts to contain the security conseqences of rising sea levels through initiatives aimed at increasing the resilience of States to climate change, in particular with regard to disaster risk reduction. As such, we welcome the Secretary-General’s announcement on Early Warning Systems.

It is agreed by all that climate change is causing a multidimensional crisis, with repercussions on sustainable development, including climate-related displacement, food security and growing inequalities, all of which increase the risk of conflict, and prospectively increase inter-state tensions. We need to recognize the links between climate change, energy security, forced displacement, peacebuilding, human security, development, gender inequality and protecting human rights. Recognising the multidimensional relationship between climate change and peace is crucial to developing effective and sustainable responses to the challenges posed to peacebuilding. In this regard we stress the importance of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) investments in support of building and sustaining peace in relation to climate change implications. We welcome in particular the collaboration between the United Nations Secretary-General’s Peacebuilding Fund (PBF), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in the first climate security project in the Pacific. It represents the first multi-country initiative of its kind in the Pacific region which proposes concrete assessment and actions at all levels to tackle climate-related security risks. Likewise in Africa, the IOM with the World Bank and the others in the UN System have been working with regional partners on the Africa Climate Mobility Initiative which is evidence-based and aims to generate political momentum around a common policy agenda and to mobilise resources for the implementation of comprehensive and locally anchored solutions to address climate mobility & displacement. This is a good practice that could be implemented in other contexts.

We have repeatedly called for the following to be considered: regular reporting by the Secretary-General on the security implications of climate change, the appointment of a Special Representative for Climate and Security who could improve the United Nations ability to address climate-related security risks, climate-sensitive prevention, mediation, and peacebuilding, and the inclusion of women in these processes as well as training for all relevant UN personnel on the implications of climate change on peace and security and humanitarian crises, and finally more cooperation with civil society, regional and national actors.

The entire UN system must address this challenge, in all relevant fora and within all relevant mandates. The Climate Security Mechanism (CSM) is one laudable example of interagency cooperation, strengthening the capacity of the UN system to analyse and address the adverse impacts of climate change on peace and security. We encourage all member states to continue to support and engage with the CSM. We welcome the Secretary-General’s call for an increased focus on the effects climate change has on peace and security in Our Common Agenda and ask the Security Council to take on our suggestions to help drive action to address the security implications of climate change – and of sea level rise caused by it.

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