Statement of the Group of Friends “Climate and Security” in the UN Security Council Open Debate on Climate Change, Peace and Security, 13 June 2023

Statetemnt GoF Climate & Security in the UN Security Council

Statetemnt GoF Climate & Security in the UN Security Council, © German Mission to the UN

13.06.2023 - Speech

The Statement was delivered by Ambassador Antje Leendertse (Germany) on behalf of the Group of Friends on Climate and Security.

Madam President, Excellencies,

It is my honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Group of Friends on Climate and Security, a broad and diverse group comprising 66 members from all regions of the world. We are delighted that our membership continues to grow as more countries show interest in joining our ranks – highlighting the continuously growing interest of the wider UN membership in this issue.

The Group of Friends is united by a common concern: Climate change is the defining challenge of our time. It increasingly threatens livelihoods and ecosystems, sustainable development, prosperity and stability, thus posing a serious challenge to peace and human security. Therefore, we are grateful to the United Arab Emirates for convening this important and timely debate.

Madam President,

As we are speaking, our colleagues of the global community have been gathering in Bonn, preparing the COP28 negotiations to reach much-needed substantive results in the fight against the climate crisis. For the COP28 in Dubai to be a success and to take bold measures to limit global warming, it is critical that we all raise our ambition on climate action to achieve the objectives set out in the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement.

Staying within the 1.5°C limit is critical. In addition, minimizing future warming will reduce the risk of triggering tipping points and associated challenges. Yet, it reflects only part of the challenge ahead of us. We must admit that we can no longer prevent all of the negative impacts of climate change. Especially in fragile contexts, these impacts act as risk multiplier. That is why we also have to invest in adaptation measures to build resilience in times of climate change.

The entire UN system must address this complex challenge in all relevant fora and within all relevant mandates. The UN is already doing important work in that regard. The Climate Security Mechanism (CSM) is a prime 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.

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 because discussions took place on the initiative of countries affected and have raised challenges and opportunities reflective of the lived-reality. The work of the Security Council would greatly benefit from considering the findings of these and future PBC meetings on the issue, and the Council could receive those through the Commission’s written advices to the Council.

The Security Council has a crucial role to play, given its primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security. The Group of Friends welcomes the progress made in this regard, inter alia the growing recognition of the effects of climate change when considering mandates for peacekeeping and special political missions. The Informal Expert Group of Members of the Security Council has proven crucial in informing the Council’s work. The Group of Friends also takes note of the leadership of elected Security Council members UAE, Malta, Mozambique and Switzerland toward developing a joint pledge to continuously addressing climate and security issues in the Security Council.

While these are steps in the right direction, more needs to be done, also within the Security Council. The Group of Friends has repeatedly been calling on this Council to create specific tools to enable the UN to do its part in preventing and resolving conflicts that are at least in part driven by the effects of climate change.

We are calling for concrete, tangible action to be considered:

  • Regular reporting by the Secretary-General on the peace and security implications of the adverse effects of climate change.
  • The Secretary General to appoint a Special Representative for Climate, Peace and Security who could strengthen coordination between relevant UN entities to improve the organizations’ ability to address climate-related security risks.
  • Make use of climate-related early warning systems that also incorporate conflict prevention, mediation, and peacebuilding.
  • As appropriate, consistently incorporate climate risks in mandates of all relevant UN peacekeeping and special political missions. Climate Peace and Security Advisors have proven to be a useful tool, providing informed expertise and advice for holistic solutions.
  • To encourage all UN missions – particularly peacekeeping missions – to improve their environmental footprints and increase environmental management actions.
  • There is broad consensus amongst UN member states that the Security Council should also refer to climate-change related risks in specific country or regional situations. Therefore, it is important that the PRSTs on UNOCA and UNOWAS, a first since 2019 and 2021 respectively – can be adopted soon. This corresponds also to the wish of the concerned countries.

Madam President,

An increasing number of countries and communities have been experiencing insecurity and instability as a result of climate change. The Group of Friends urges the Security Council and its members to live up to the requests made by these countries to take action. We stand ready to support all efforts to enhance comprehensive risk assessment, capacity building and operational responses.

Thank you.

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