Statement by Amb. Antje Leendertse on behalf of the Group of Friends on Climate and Security at the UNSC high-level open debate on security in the context of terrorism and climate change, 9 December

09.12.2021 - Speech

(Check against delivery)

Mr. President,

Members of the Security Council,

Mr. Secretary-General,

Mr. Chair of the African Union Commission,

Mr. Executive Secretary of the Lake Chad Basin Commission,

Excellencies, Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Group of Friends on Climate and Security: a group of almost 60 members from all regions of the world united by a common concern:

Climate change is the defining challenge of our time. The effects of climate change are, inter alia, a serious challenge to peace and security, to stability and prosperity, on the effective enjoyment of human rights, and in some cases possibly even to the existence of states and the physical lives of their citizens.

Therefore, we strongly welcome the Security Council’s increasing attention to this threat and are grateful to Niger as President of the Council for convening this important debate.

COP26 was a milestone. The world came together to limit global warming and we all must persevere and redouble our efforts to keep the 1.5 degree goal within reach. At the same time, it is clear that the climate is already changing; the effects of climate change are being felt around the world. Irrespective of our best efforts at mitigation, we also need to prepare for the negative effects of climate change.

In particular, we must do more to increase countries ability to adapt to the impacts of climate change, and prevent its effects from contributing to the destabilization of countries and entire regions which risks contributing, in specific contexts, to new armed conflicts, worsening existing conflicts, and helping to create a breeding ground for violent extremism and terrorism. Here the Security Council has a crucial role to play.

Mr President,

Building climate-resilient systems that support peace and stability urgently requires a much more concerted international effort, and in this regard we welcome the AU’s strong engagement and the recent OSCE landmark decision on climate change. The entire UN system must address this challenge, in all relevant fora and within all relevant mandates.

The UN is already doing important work here: The Climate Security Mechanism (CSM) enhances the capacity of the UN system to analyse and address the adverse impacts of climate change on peace and security through effective interagency cooperation. The Secretary-General’s report Our Common Agenda rightly calls for an increased focus on the effects of climate change on peace and security.

The Security Council has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. We welcome the progress made in this regard: including the recognition of the effects of climate change when considering a growing number of mandates for peacekeeping and special political missions. The work of the Informal Expert Group of Members of the Security Council has proved invaluable in informing the Council’s work.

Yet, more needs to be done to ensure a more structured and systematic approach and to create the necessary 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 therefore strongly welcome the thematic resolution now put forward. We urge the Council to adopt it swiftly.

It would provide the much-needed framework to translate proposals repeatedly made by the Group of Friends into tangible action that will enhance the UN’s risk analysis, capacity-building and operational response.

Mr. President,

Climate change is a threat to international peace and security that no nation can face alone. We must act together and we must act now.

The Security Council must live up to its primary responsibility under the Charter to address threats to international peace and security. It should adopt a resolution that will allow the UN Security Council to address threats to peace and security that climate change poses and will increasingly pose.

Thank you.


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