I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Group of Friends on Climate and Security. Our group of more than 60 members from all regions of the world is united by a common concern:
Climate change is increasingly threatening livelihoods, food security, stability, sustainable development and prosperity, the effective enjoyment of human rights, and, in turns, peace and security.
Therefore, we strongly welcome the Security Council’s renewed attention to this threat, one of the defining challenges of our time. We are grateful to Gabon as President of the Council for convening this important debate, and are delighted to welcome Gabon as the newest member of the Group of Friends!
While climate change is affecting all parts of the world, it disproportionately affects the poorest and most fragile regions prone to climate shocks and with lower capacity to adapt. In such fragile settings, women and girls are especially vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change.
African states are among those most vulnerable to the consequences of the global climate crisis although they contribute only around 4% to the global increase in greenhouse gas emissions. In many parts of Africa, we can already see how climate change exacerbates resource scarcity and food insecurity, makes people more vulnerable to exploitation by armed groups, can intensify armed conflict, and may force people to migrate. On top of this, there is growing scientific evidence that deforestation in the Congo Basin may alter rainfall patterns and reduce rain not only in Central Africa, but also beyond, with potentially dramatic consequences for food security and social stability.
We must therefore intensify our collective efforts to address the climate crisis while immediately enhancing support for those most affected, such as African States. Only if we truly work together, we can prevent the adverse effects of climate change resulting in violence and instability. We therefore welcome the African Union’s Agenda 2063, which explicitly includes the climate and security nexus among its core priorities, and welcome efforts to strengthen the partnership between the UN system and the AU.
Member States must limit global warming and redouble their efforts on climate action to keep a 1.5 degree limit to warming within reach by fully and ambitiously implementing the Paris Agreement, including through the commitments reflected in the Glasgow Climate Pact.
Climate finance and means of implementation, as well as development and humanitarian finance, if used well, can contribute to sustaining peace and security. We must work together to find ways to integrate conflict sensitivity in mitigation and adaptation efforts. We must ensure that climate policies and climate financing take conflict and fragility into account and that efforts to sustain or build peace take into account the adverse effects of climate change. Investments in climate adaptation often also benefit peace and stability – by mitigating the negative effects of climate change, we produce security.
Building climate-resilient systems that support peace and stability urgently requires a much more concerted international effort and strong partnerships. 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 enhances the capacity of the UN system to integrate the analysis and addressing of the adverse impacts of climate change on peace and security matters through effective interagency cooperation – it should be strengthened.
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 Informal Expert Group of Members of the Security Council has proven crucial in informing the Council’s work in that regard.
Yet, more needs to be done to ensure a truly systematic approach and to create the necessary tools for the UN system to do its part in preventing and resolving conflicts that are driven or aggravated by the effects of climate Change.
The Group of Friends urges all members of the Security Council to listen to the increasing number of countries who are experiencing instability and insecurity due to climate change, and then support their request for action by the Security Council instead of blocking it. Such action includes creating and implementing much-needed frameworks that will enhance the UN’s comprehensive risk assessments and strategies that take into account the effects of climate change, capacity-building and operational response. We stand ready to support all such efforts.
Climate change is a global threat to peace that no region can face alone. African states, and others particularly affected by the dramatic effect of climate change, deserve the full support of the international community – and, when climate change threatens peace, of the Security Council.
To sustain peace and prevent conflict in the face of the climate crisis we must all do our part – let us do so now.