Statement by Ambassador Christoph Heusgen in the Security Council Arria-Formula Debate on preparing for security implications of rising temperatures

15.12.2017 - Press release

Thank you, Mr. President,
Excellencies, distinguished colleagues,

Let me commend the Italian Republic for initiating this timely discussion on the links between climate change, peace and security.

The rising number of SC and Arria debates on this topic indicates that this issue is becoming more and more pressing. Effects of climate change have already turned into an existential threat for many countries, and the Council will have to deal with many more cases in the future where the effects of climate change drives or exacerbates threats to international peace and security.

One such example for the Council having assumed its responsibility, and an important step towards tackling these climate-related security challenges, was SC resolution 2349 on the Lake Chad basin of March this year. But such climate-related security challenges are not limited to the Lake Chad basin.

No matter how successful we are in reducing carbon emissions, we will also have to deal with the security implications of ever increasing effects of climate change. Climate change will impact the livelihoods of millions of people, and many countries are already overwhelmed and pushed to their limits in adapting to it. Violence, destabilization and large scale migratory movements may be the consequence, in turn threatening regional and international peace and security.

In light of this, I would like to make three points:

First: the Security Council needs adequate situational awareness for its considerations

In its Presidential Statement in 2011, the Council highlighted that “conflict analysis and contextual information on, inter alia, possible security implications of climate change is important.” Also, the Council “requested the Secretary-General to ensure that his reporting to the Council contains such contextual information.” Yet, a recently published study found that of 446 subsequent reports of the Secretary-General to the Council in the following four and a half years, only 25 mentioned climate and only 12 the conflict and security aspects.

This is not sufficient to fulfil the task the Council has mandated. We need to ensure a better basis for the Council to fulfill its mandate. We need to include climate change induced factors in early-warning systems by default and use these systems more effectively.

Second: Based on such information, the Council should conduct risk assessments as a foundation for its decision-making

In resolution 2349 on the Lake Chad basin, the SC emphasized the need for adequate risk assessments and risk management strategies.

Again, this is crucial not only with regard to the Lake Chad basin. Only through solid risk assessment can the SC react to emerging threats and take appropriate action. Not every effect of climate change poses a threat to peace and security. Social, economic, political and other complex factors also enter into the equation. Nevertheless, taking into account the effects of climate change in the context of specific conflict situations is clearly part of the SC’s mandate to assume the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.

Third: Lessons Learned / Policy Learning

Improved risk assessments, both regional and institutional, shed light on the links between climate change, peace and security. Fed back into the SC, the lessons learned constitute a sound decision-making basis. Indeed, the SC must know when it adopts measures to what extent specific conflicts and crises are induced by climate change induced in order to reflect this in the Councils measures.

Excellencies, distinguished colleagues,

We all have a responsibility to prepare for security risks induced by the effects of climate change and the Council shares in this collective responsibility. We must ensure that it has the information it needs to properly assess the risks and reach informed decisions.

Germany will continue to support the SC in this endeavor, as we will in establishing strategies of conflict prevention and tackling the adverse effects of climate change on peace and security.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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