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Statement by Ambassador Günter Sautter at the Arria Meeting of the UN Security Council on Sea-level rise and implications for international peace and security, October 18

18.10.2021 - Speech

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Mr President

Thank you for convening today´s Arria-formula meeting on “Sea-Level Rise and Implications for International Peace and Security”. This is very timely. In a couple of weeks the international community will decide at COP26 in Glasgow about our joint response to the threat of climate change and securing the livelihood of future generations.

We welcome this continuing exchange among Security Council members and the wider UN membership on how to best integrate the security implications of climate change in its activities and considerations. During our Security Council membership in 2019/2020 this was a priority for Germany and we were able, thanks to a joint effort of a group of Security Council members, among them Vietnam, to achieve progress on adressing climate change in many specific mandates and by establishing the Informal Expert Group of members of the Security Council. As Co-Chair of the Group of Friends on Climate and Security, which we chair together with Nauru, Germany remains a steadfast advocate of the issue of climate and security. And at COP 26, together with the Munich Security Conference and with Luxembourg and Nauru as Co-Hosts, we will convene a ministerial roundtable with participants from across the world, aiming at identifying concrete tasks for and elements of a global agenda for action on climate and security so as to come from words to further action as quickly as possible and to complement our efforts at UN-level.

Mr President,

A world beyond 1.5°C can hardly be a secure one. Major risks are to be expected:  Sea-level rise causes increased flood risks, more coastal erosion and saltwater intrusion. And in addition to that, changes in ocean temperatures are threatening marine ecosystems and food security.

It is the costal communities and in particular the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to which extreme weather events, loss of land and livelihoods pose existential threats.

Rising sea levels also have further political, legal and security implications. They impact the coastline and thus the location of borders at sea. The UN Convention on the law of the sea becomes even more relevant in this regard. We are proud to have initiated the Group of Friends of UNCLOS in June together with Viet Nam which as of today has 112 members.

As Federal Foreign Minister Maas, speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends on Climate and Security in the Open Debate of the Security Council on Climate and Security on 23 February, stated: Climate and security belongs firmly on the Security Council agenda, to reflect its primary responsibility for international peace and security.

We welcome the ongoing tangible progress we see in the Council’s work.

As already put forward on past occasions, we are calling for the following concrete, tangible actions:

  • Regular reporting by the Secretary-General on the security implications of climate change.
  • The appointment of a Special Representative for Climate and Security.
  • Climate-sensitive prevention, mediation, and peacebuilding.
  • Adequate consideration of climate risks in mandates of all relevant peacekeeping and special political missions
  • Training for all relevant UN personnel on the implications of climate change on peace and security and humanitarian crises.
  • And, finally, for more cooperation with civil society, regional and national actors on climate-related security risks.

Prime Minister Martin has announced that Ireland would initiate discussions on a thematic resolution on climate and security. We believe that there are legitimate public expectations in light of the upcoming COP 26. Now is the moment for the Council to show leadership and adopt a strong resolution on climate and security.

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