|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6587th Meeting (AM & PM)
Security Council, in Statement, Says ‘Contextual Information’ on Possible Security
Implications of Climate Change Important When Climate Impacts Drive Conflict
‘Make No Mistake’, Says Secretary-General, ‘Climate Change Not Only Exacerbates
Threats to Peace and Security, It Is a Threat to International Peace and Security’
The Security Council this afternoon expressed concern that the possible adverse effects of climate change could, in the long-run, aggravate certain existing threats to international peace and security and that the loss of territory in some States due to sea-level rise, particularly in small low-lying island States, could have possible security implications.
In a statement read out by Council President for July, Peter Wittig of Germany, the 15-member body, following a day-long debate on “maintenance of international peace and security: the impact of climate change”, noted that “conflict analysis and contextual information” on, among others, the “possible security implications of climate change” was important when climate issues drove conflict, challenged implementation of Council mandates or endangered peace processes.
In that context, the 15-member body asked the Secretary-General to ensure that his reporting to the Council contained such contextual information. Moreover, the Council recognized the responsibility for climate change and other sustainable development issues conferred upon the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council, and it underlined the Assembly’s 2009 resolution that reaffirmed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as the key instrument for addressing climate change.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who opened the Council debate, pointed to the devastating impact of extreme weather and rising seas on lives, infrastructure and budgets — an “unholy brew” that could create dangerous security vacuums. “We must make no mistake,” he said. “The facts are clear: climate change is real and accelerating in a dangerous manner,” he said, declaring that it “not only exacerbates threats to international peace and security; it is a threat to international peace and security”.
Events in Pakistan, the Pacific islands, Western Europe, China and the Horn of Africa, among other areas, illustrated the urgency of the situation, he said, adding that just today, the United Nations had declared a state of famine in two regions of southern Somalia. Worldwide, hundreds of millions of people were in danger of food and water shortages. Environmental refugees were “reshaping the human geography” of the planet.
He called for ambitious steps to reduce climate change and make “sustainable development for all” the defining issue of our time. That meant, among other things, expediting implementation of the agreements made during the 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancún, Mexico, including on forest protection, adaptation and technology; providing “fast start” financing and agreement on sources of long-term funding; and setting ambitious targets to ensure that any increase in the global average temperature remained below 2° C.
Climate change was a “threat multiplier”, asserted Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and that, he said, would have fundamental implications for weather, settlements, infrastructure, food insecurity, livelihoods and development. Competition over scarce water and land, exacerbated by regional changes in climate, was already a key factor in local conflicts in Darfur, the Central African Republic, northern Kenya and Chad.
As many as 10 Council-mandated peacekeeping operations costing $35 billion — half of the global peacekeeping budget — had been deployed to countries where natural resources had played a key role in conflict, he said. Science showed that the quantity and quality of those resources would be at increasing risk from climate change and that broad, cooperative action was needed to prevent irreversible tipping points, leading to sudden, abrupt shocks to communities and countries.
“Indeed there is no reason why the international community cannot avoid escalating conflicts, tensions and insecurity related to a changing climate if a deliberate, focused and collective response can be catalysed that tackles the root causes, scale, potential volatility and velocity of the challenges emerging,” he said, citing recent efforts towards that end.
Speaking on behalf of the Pacific small island developing States, the Maldives, Seychelles and Timor-Leste, Marcus Stephen, President of Nauru, said the very survival of many countries was threatened by the adverse impacts of climate change. Some islands could disappear altogether, forcing large numbers of peoples to relocate — first internally and then across borders. While Council members understood such security challenges, solidarity demanded more than sympathetic words. “Demonstrate it by formally recognizing that climate change is a threat to international peace and security,” he said, calling climate change as great a threat as nuclear proliferation or terrorism.
The Council, he insisted, should start by requesting the appointment of a special representative on climate and security, as well as an assessment of the United Nations capacity to respond to the security impacts of the phenomenon. The Council would render itself irrelevant if it chose to ignore the biggest security threat of our time, he said, imploring it to “seize this opportunity to lead”.
Echoing those concerns was Richard Marles, Australia’s Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs, who said the sea, long a source of food, sustenance and comfort, was being transformed into a source of anxiety and threat. Sea-level rise could reach one metre by the end of the century, resulting in more severe storm surges, coastal inundation and loss of territory. Islands and low-lying territories might become inhabitable, and as much of 80 per cent of the Marshall Islands’ Majuro Atoll, the nation’s capital, could erode and be lost.
During the debate, in which some 65 speakers took the floor, delegates gave opposing views over whether the Council should consider climate change or leave it to other United Nations organs traditionally charged with sustainable development matters, notably UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council. Some representatives applauded the Council’s emerging role as a necessary complement. But others saw it as an encroachment, and said the Council members could better contribute by making good on their international development commitments, promoting the green economy and ensuring a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol with measurable and more ambitious goals on emissions reduction.
Bolivia’s representative went a step further, calling for creation of an international tribunal for climate and environmental justice to sanction those nations that did not comply with emission reduction commitments. He also proposed a Council resolution to cut global defence and security spending by 20 per cent and channel the subsequent savings into steps to tackle climate change.
Also speaking in today’s debate were the representatives of the United States, Brazil, China, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Nigeria, United Kingdom, Russian Federation, Colombia, France, Lebanon, South Africa, Gabon, India, Portugal, Germany, Egypt (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement), Argentina (on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China), El Salvador, Slovenia, Denmark, Luxembourg, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Chile, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Ecuador, Cuba, Honduras, Ireland, Japan, Singapore, Iceland, Canada, Papua New Guinea, Iran, Kuwait (on behalf of the Arab States Group), Kazakhstan, Belgium, Peru, Bangladesh, Palau, Hungary, Finland, Barbados (on behalf of the Caribbean Community), Turkey, Philippines, Kenya, Sudan, Ghana, Venezuela, Fiji, Poland, United Republic of Tanzania, Israel, Spain, Italy and Pakistan.
The Acting Head of the Delegation of the European Union also spoke.
The meeting began at 10:20 a.m. and suspended at 1:10 p.m. It resumed at 3:10 p.m. and ended at 7:14 p.m.
The full text of presidential statement S/PRST/2011/15 reads as follows:
“The Security Council reaffirms its primary responsibility under the Charter of the United Nations for the maintenance of international peace and security. The Council stresses the importance of establishing strategies of conflict prevention.
“The Security Council recognizes the responsibility for sustainable development issues, including climate change, conferred upon the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council.
“The Security Council underlines General Assembly resolution 63/281 of 3 June 2009, which: reaffirms that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is the key instrument for addressing climate change; recalls the provisions of the UNFCCC, including the acknowledgement that the global nature of climate change calls for the widest possible cooperation by all countries and their participation in an effective and appropriate international response, in accordance with their common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities and their social and economic conditions; and invites the relevant organs of the United Nations, as appropriate and within their respective mandates to intensify their efforts in considering and addressing climate change, including its possible security implications.
“The Security Council notes General Assembly resolution 65/159 of 20 December 2010, entitled ‘Protection of global climate for present and future generations of humankind’.
“The Security Council notes that, in response to the request contained in General Assembly resolution 63/281, the Secretary General submitted a report to the General Assembly on ‘Climate change and its possible security implications’ (A/64/350).
“The Security Council expresses its concern that possible adverse effects of climate change may, in the long run, aggravate certain existing threats to international peace and security.
“The Security Council expresses its concern thatpossible security implications of loss of territory of some States caused by sea-level rise may arise, in particular in small low-lying island States.
“The Security Council notes that in matters relating to the maintenance of international peace and security under its consideration, conflict analysis and contextual information on, inter alia, possible security implications of climate change is important, when such issues are drivers of conflict, represent a challenge to the implementation of Council mandates or endanger the process of consolidation of peace. In this regard, the Council requests the Secretary-General to ensure that his reporting to the Council contains such contextual information.”
The Security Council met this morning to hold an open thematic debate on “Maintenance of international peace and security: the impact of climate change”. To frame the discussion, the Permanent Representative of Germany, whose country holds the Council presidency for July, prepared a concept note (document S/2011/408), which states: “It is time to bring the security implications of climate change to the attention of the Council again.”
The Council first debated the link between energy, security and climate in April 2007, the note recalls. Debate on this topic is consistent with the Council’s mandate to maintain international peace and security, and would be an opportunity to advance the intense dialogue on the issue from its specific security perspective, it says. Moreover, since that first debate, in which more than 50 Member States participated, the global political and scientific discourse has evolved significantly, and awareness of the potential security implications of climate change has increased.
The note finds that the changing climate — one of the key challenges facing the international community — is occurring at a time when the planet is under pressure from a raft of other challenges, such as rapid population growth, increased demand for natural resources and depletion of fertile soils and unspoiled waters. “The impacts could potentially drive social tensions, political unrest and violent conflict”, and thus, the effects of climate change go beyond the mandate of the United Nations Framework Convention, the main intergovernmental instrument dealing with that phenomenon.
The potential security implications of climate change were highlighted, according to the note, when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. Shortly thereafter, the General Assembly, in its resolution 63/281, invited the relevant organs of the United Nations to intensify efforts in considering and addressing climate change, including its possible security implications, and requested the Secretary-General to submit a comprehensive report to the Assembly on the possible security implications of climate change.
Drawing upon the best available science at the time and the views of Member States and international organizations, the Secretary-General, in his 2009 report (document A/64/350), clearly outlined the link between the risk multiplier effects of climate change and security, including with respect to armed conflict, the note recalls. For its part, the Security Council has increasingly acknowledged that sustainable peace requires a comprehensive approach to security.
The note goes on to say that only recently, the Council stated that in matters relating to the maintenance of international peace and security under its consideration, conflict analysis and contextual information on, inter alia, social and economic issues were important, when such issues were drivers of conflict, and requested the Secretary-General to ensure that his reporting to the Council contained such contextual information (document S/PRST/2011/4).
The paper before the Council today highlights the security implications of sea-level rise and emphasizes that while complete inundation may take years and the rise in the sea level may vary in different regions, this is not only a future risk, but a current reality; on some islands, the situation is already dire enough to require the evacuation of the resident population now. Furthermore, even before rising tides actually submerge an island, their impact may render it uninhabitable, requiring permanent resettlement.
“This raises profound questions regarding the very survival of several Member States,” the note continues, and adds that receding coastlines could furthermore incite disputes over maritime territories and access to exclusive economic zones. This is not limited to small island developing States, but affects all island nations and countries with low-lying coastal areas as well, thus affecting the majority of Member States. “These are threats that are so far unknown in the history of the United Nations”, and current legal and political arrangements and the Organization’s preparedness to deal with these situations may prove insufficient. “Millions of people will be affected on all continents.”
As for the security implications of food insecurity, the note says that climate change is likely to reduce food production globally, with large parts of Africa and Asia suffering particular negative impacts. Although some countries in northern latitudes may theoretically benefit from climate change in the short term, the wildfires and crop failures in Australia and the Russian Federation in recent years have shown that developed and developing countries alike can be negatively affected.
Following the recent food crisis, the note states, social protests and unrest occurred in a number of countries and cities around the world. Populations in post-conflict countries or those suffering from instability can rarely afford escalating global food prices following droughts and similar events; this challenge and the fact that they have access to only a few substitutes makes them even more vulnerable to climate change impacts.
Further, the note says that a number of fragile States are especially susceptible to increasing food prices owing to their dependence on food imports. In some countries on the Security Council’s agenda, including Afghanistan, Côte d’Ivoire, Haiti, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Somalia and the Sudan, nearly half or more of the labour force is employed in the agricultural sector. Major droughts, an increase in extreme weather events and a rising number of large-scale inundations causing a decrease in crop production may degrade the social-economic fabric of these and other countries, and may be detrimental to peacebuilding.
Thus, food insecurity caused by climate change and related developmental impacts make countries more fragile and vulnerable to conflict risks, and may create a threat to international peace and security. It is necessary to consider these issues in all efforts related to conflict prevention, crisis management, peacebuilding and post-conflict stabilization.
Opening the Security Council’s thematic debate on “Maintenance of international peace and security: the impact of climate change”, Secretary-General BAN KI-MOON, recalled that when the Security Council first had taken up the issue of climate change in 2007, he had argued that the debate was not only appropriate but essential. Today, he welcomed that the right debate was being held: on what the Council and all States could do to confront the “double-barrelled challenge” of climate change and international security.
“We must make no mistake,” he said. The facts were clear: climate change was real and accelerating in a dangerous manner. “It not only exacerbates threats to international peace and security; it is a threat to international peace and security”, he stressed. Extreme weather events were growing more frequent and intense in rich and poor countries alike, devastating lives, infrastructure and budgets — an “unholy brew” that could create dangerous security vacuums.
Events in Pakistan, the Pacific Islands, the Russian Federation, Western Europe, the United States, China and the Horn of Africa were just some examples that should remind the world of the urgency of the situation, he said, adding that just today, the United Nations had declared a state of famine in two regions of southern Somalia. Around the world, hundreds of millions of people were in danger of going short of food and water, undermining the most essential foundations of local, national, and global stability.
Competition between communities and countries for scarce resources — especially water — was increasing, he said, exacerbating old security dilemmas and creating new ones, while environmental refugees were “reshaping the human geography” of the planet, a trend that would only increase as deserts advanced, forests were felled, and sea-levels rose.
Since his report to the General Assembly in 2009, certain agreements had been reached in Copenhagen and Cancún in the context of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), he said, providing an important — albeit incomplete — foundation for action on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and enabling all countries to adapt. What was needed now was accelerated operationalization of the agreements made at Cancún, including on forest protection, adaptation and technology.
Moreover, climate finance, the sine qua non for progress, must move from a conceptual discussion to concrete delivery of “fast start” financing and agreement on sources of long-term financing, he said. The next Conference of Parties (COP) meeting in Durban this December must be decisive in that regard.
“Minimalist steps will not do,” he stressed, as ambitious targets were needed to ensure that any increase in the global average temperature remained below 2 degrees Centigrade. The Durban meeting also must provide a clear step forward on mitigation commitments and actions by all parties, according to their responsibilities and capabilities. Developed countries must lead, while emerging economies must shoulder their fair share.
Given that the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol expired next year, a political formula also must be found to ensure that existing and future commitments were not delayed by negotiating gamesmanship, he said, noting that the Council could play a vital role in making clear the link between climate change, peace and security. It bore a unique responsibility for mobilizing national and international action to confront the security threat of climate change, and others that derived from it.
Recalling that nothing would build a foundation for a more peaceful world than securing sustainable development, he urged all States to use next year’s “Rio+20” Conference on Sustainable Development to “join the dots” between energy security, food and nutrition security, water security, climate security and development.
While he had called climate change “the defining issue of our time”, he said States now must go further to make “sustainable development for all” the defining issue, as it was only in that broader framework that climate change could be addressed. “Re-writing this history falls to us all,” he concluded.
ACHIM STEINER, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), discussed climate change’s profound implications for global stability and security, noting that it was a threat multiplier that could result in simultaneous and unprecedented impacts on where people could settle, grow food, maintain infrastructure or rely on functioning ecosystems. Managing the potential disruption, displacement and adaptation to sea-level rise or extreme weather events was profoundly challenging to sustainable development. The fourth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2007 concluded that it was “unequivocal” that the Earth was warming and that humans played a role in that. It noted that 11 of the last 12 years ranked among the 12 hottest years on record. The Panel’s fifth assessment report would be released in 2013-3014. But already many teams of scientists had claimed that forecasts and scenarios of future climate change cited in the fourth report had been overtaken.
Citing examples in the regard, he said that a one-meter rise in sea-level, along with storm surges, could flood 17 per cent of Bangladesh’s land area; threaten large parts of coastal cities such as Lagos, Cape Town and elsewhere; and overwhelm small island developing States from the Maldives to Tuvalu. The Copenhagen Diagnosis of 2009 identified the potential for a temperature rise by 2100 of as much as seven degrees Celsius if there was no action to cut emissions. A 2011 paper in Nature Climate Change had concluded that roughly 65 per cent of present maize-growing areas in Africa would experience yield losses for a one degree Celsius warming even under optimal rain-fed management.
The science suggested continuing, expediting and “tipping point” trends linked to climate change, which would have fundamental implications for weather, settlements, infrastructure, food insecurity, livelihoods and development, he said. It was happening in a world of rapidly emerging resource constraints and close to 7 billion people that would rise to more than 9 billion by 2050. “In a world where population is rapidly rising, the sustainable use of resources becomes an imperative,” he said, pointing to findings by UNEP’s International Resource Panel, which showed that consumption of several key natural resources could triple by 2050 to 140 billion tonnes unless that consumption was decoupled from economic growth.
That gave rise to security concerns, as evidenced by public protests in Argentina, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Egypt, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Mauritania and Peru in 2008 where a range of factors had caused price spikes and food shortages, he said. Many experts argued that climate change would aggravate or amplify existing security concerns and give rise to new ones, particularly in already fragile and vulnerable nations. It could also sharply intensify human displacement, bringing communities into increasing competition for finite natural resources with global repercussions for global economic stability.
Last month, the Norwegian Refugee Council and the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre estimated that “sudden natural disasters” had displaced 42 million people in 2010, he said. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the IDMC had suggested that at least 36 million people were displaced in 2008 due to the “sudden onset” of natural disasters, including weather-related disasters.
Competition over scarce water and land, exacerbated by regional changes in climate, were already a key factor in local level conflicts in Darfur, the Central African Republic, northern Kenya and Chad. When livelihoods were threatened by declining natural resources, people fled or innovated, or could be brought into conflict, he said.
UNEP was partnering with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on the Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment to frame a response to climate change and food challenges with the Global Environmental Change and Food Systems Initiative hosted by Oxford University, he said. Earlier this month, the Environmental and Security Initiative, a partnership between several United Nations agencies and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), published a comprehensive assessment of the Amu Darya river basin in Central Asia and measures for improved cooperation between Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
Countries in the Sahel, including Burkina Faso, Gambia and Mauritania, also recognized the security implications of climate change and natural resource conflicts in their national policies and adaptation plans, he said. Several developed and developing countries had also reflected those risks in their national security strategies and defence plans. Working towards a low-carbon economy, or green economy, would be a key focus of the Rio+20 Conference next year.
Ten Council-mandated peacekeeping operations costing $35 billion had been deployed to countries where natural resources had played a key role in conflict, he said. That figure represented half of the total peacekeeping budget ever spent. Science showed that the quantity and quality of those resources would be at increasing risk from climate change and its impact, and that without broad, cooperative action, irreversible tipping points could occur with perhaps sudden and abrupt shocks to communities and countries.
“The question is less and less of whether climate change is a security threat or a threat multiplier. But one of how we can assess and manage the risks associated with climate change and its security implications as an international community,” he said. The international community’s ability to manage climate change’s consequences and avoid its most dangerous possibilities would depend on a proactive strategy and new global platforms, mechanisms and institutional responses that anticipated security concerns and facilitated cooperative responses.
“Indeed there is no reason why the international community cannot avoid escalating conflicts, tensions and insecurity related to a changing climate if a deliberate, focused and collective response can be catalyzed that tackles the root causes, scale, potential volatility and velocity of the challenges emerging,” he said.
SUSAN RICE (United States) said climate change had very real implications for international peace and security. Those were as powerful as they were complex, and many of them were already upon us, reducing water and food, and threatening biodiversity in some regions. As more intense storms uprooted populations, climate change could increase pressure on scarce resources, exposing people to greater insecurity. Post-conflict countries already struggling to rebuild infrastructure and overcome instability now must often grapple with extreme weather and drought. Climate change also could slow or reverse crucial development gains for people to break the shackles of poverty. As sea levels rose, small island developing States might well see their territory literally drowned, raising unimagined forms of statelessness.
Recalling the recent birth of South Sudan as the newest Member State, she said agricultural production was among its highest priorities. Yet, that challenge had been magnified by the unfolding humanitarian disaster in the wider Horn of Africa. A decade ago, drought and desertification were thought to have contributed to the humanitarian crisis in Darfur, as it had in Somalia. “The Security Council needs to start now — today and in the days to come — to act on the understanding that climate change exacerbated the risks of conflict,” she stressed, underlining the need to sharpen the tools available to respond to them.
She went on to say that while the Council had an essential responsibility to address the clear-cut international peace and security implications of climate change, this week it had been unable to reach consensus on a presidential statement that climate change had the potential to impact international peace and security — despite “manifest evidence” that it did. Dozens of countries whose very existence was threatened had asked the Council to recognize their security was being threatened. But because of the refusal of a few, the Council, by its silence, was saying “tough luck”. “This is more than disappointing. It’s pathetic,” she said. It was a dereliction of duty.
The Council had shown an impressive ability to combat new peace and security threats, she said, and in adapting peacekeeping tools to address more complex peace and security crises around the world. Climate change was no different. Improved early warning systems, more collaboration on the effects of climate change, especially at local and national levels, and more information on food and water were needed to help prevent resource-driven conflicts. The Council must prevent the risk of conflict by building local and national capacities. “Our goal is clear,” she stressed. “This Council needs to be prepared for the full range of crises that may be deepened or widened by climate change.” It must be much better prepared to tackle one of the central threats of our age.
MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VIOTTI (Brazil), aligning with the Group of 77 developing countries and China, said the Council must take a holistic view of conflict, as violence was born not only of ethnic or religious disputes, but also out of hunger, poverty and competition for scarce resources. The links between climate change and development, and between security and development, had been explicitly recognized by the United Nations, but the possible security implications of climate change were far less obvious, as environmental impacts did not threaten international peace and security on their own. However, that indirect relationship between security and climate change in no way diminished the urgency of supporting the most vulnerable countries. Those challenges required political, economic and humanitarian approaches, not necessarily a security response.
Expressing solidarity with small island developing States, she agreed that expressions of concern or political declarations were no substitute for concrete action. Adaptation programmes must be prioritized and funded. On food security, she called for redoubling efforts to eliminate hunger, while political will was needed to improve market access to food products from developing countries by reducing agricultural subsidies. Where food insecurity aggravated instability in conflict or post-conflict situations, the Council should coordinate efforts with other actors, including the World Bank.
WANG MIN (China) said solving climate change and achieving sustainable development were pressing tasks that required all countries to make long-term efforts. Common but differentiated responsibilities were necessary. Climate change could affect security, but it was fundamentally a sustainable development issue. The Council did not have the means and resources to address it. Its discussions did not contribute to putting together a broadly accepted programme. Nor could the Council’s discussions substitute for the UNFCCC negotiations. Most developing countries believed the Council’s discussion on climate change did not contribute to mitigation efforts. The international community should give full consideration to developing countries’ stage of development and specific needs and circumstances, and accordingly, give them the requisite assistance. The international community should adopt effective measures to help small island developing States, especially by giving them capital, technology and capacity-building support. China would work with those small island nations to actively implement the Mauritius Strategy to advance sustainable development worldwide.
MIRSADA ČOLAKOVIĆ (Bosnia and Herzegovina) said that in certain circumstances, the adverse impacts of climate change might aggravate existing threats to international peace and security, and the Council must be aware of the potential security implications that could be entailed, including humanitarian crises, migration pressures and external shocks. On the other hand, it was necessary to respect the mandates of United Nations bodies addressing climate change.
A coherent and holistic response by the United Nations was the only way to address the issue, he said, and the Secretary-General, when appropriate, should alert the Council on climate-related crises that could imperil peace and security. It was crucial that United Nations bodies strengthen their capacity to deal with different crises, including those stemming from climate change, with efforts focused on predicting, preventing or handling climate change issues. Mainstreaming climate change within the Organization’s relevant bodies should be strengthened and information-sharing improved on early warning assessments.
U. JOY OGWU ( Nigeria) said today’s debate was timely and it could contribute to preparations for the 2012 Earth Summit. The food crisis in the Horn of Africa showed that threats to water management, animal health and crop production exacerbated food insecurity. It was necessary to take concerted action to mitigate and adapt to climate change, otherwise the risks would only increase. It would cost $3 billion to protect Nigeria from the sea-level rise that could occur, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. Nigeria was working with bilateral and multilateral partners to identify solutions to those challenges and it sought to mainstream mitigation and adaptation strategies.
At the same time, she said, Nigeria was committed to the Millennium Development Goals and the Green Wall Sahara Programme. Every nation must do its part. She expressed concern over the slow rate of progress in implementing mitigation and adaptation agreements. Such failures had repercussions everywhere. Natural disasters undermined efforts of developing countries and small island developing States to adapt. The struggle to minimize climate change impacts should be part of wider peacebuilding frameworks. The United Nations was unequivocally placed to guide implementation of existing commitments outlined in the Kyoto Protocol, the Mauritius Declaration and other frameworks. She called for enhanced efforts for the equitable distribution of climate change adaptation funds and the promotion of the Global Environmental Facility.
MARK LYALL GRANT (United Kingdom) said the number of countries speaking today demonstrated the importance of the topic being discussed. Extreme weather events would be felt most keenly in those countries where there was a shortage of food, water and energy, and where Governments did not always have the capacity to respond. Climate change must be seen as a “threat multiplier”, exacerbating tensions and increasing the likelihood of conflict. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) had estimated that global demand for food would increase 70 per cent by 2050. Where food security was a source of instability, climate change had the potential to fuel tension.
He said that resource scarcity, flooding and drought would likely result in movements of people across national boundaries in such areas as the Horn of Africa, increasing the risks of tension and conflict. While some had voiced concern at the Council’s mandate to discuss the issue, the United Kingdom believed the mandates of those United Nations bodies dealing with climate change were being respected. The Council’s debate did not undermine them. The Council should consider emerging threats to international peace and security, and — as conflict prevention was an element in its work — it was through discussion of new and cross-cutting challenges, including climate change, that it could best prevent conflict.
Voicing hope that agreement could be reached on a presidential statement, which would send a signal on the importance of mitigating the security risks posed by climate change, he said history would not judge the Council kindly if it “ducked” that responsibility. Three areas required attention. First, the United Nations must continue to work to achieve a globally binding agreement on climate change, and the United Kingdom would do its all to support preparations for the seventeenth Conference of Parties in Durban. The Council must build a deeper understanding of the interface between climate change and conflict drivers, and then capture it by building tools and taking actions to prevent conflict. Finally, better information-sharing was needed among United Nations bodies and programmes.
VITALY CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) said his Government had always viewed combating climate change as a priority area for global cooperation, having advocated for a global instrument covering all countries and for more attention to be paid to the idea of Russian forests acting as carbon sinks. The Russian Federation’s policy had been seen in its decision to cut by 2020 greenhouse gas emissions by 10 to 25 per cent over 1990 levels, within the framework of a new global climate agreement. In the transition to a low-carbon economy, the Russian Federation would give attention to nuclear energy.
The priority role in combating climate change lay with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, he explained, as it contained measures to respond to new threats. The Russian Federation shared the concerns of small island developing States at rising sea levels. To address climate change, States must effectively use the potential of the climate convention, the most fundamental area of which was adaptation, which included the Adaptation Fund. He called for urgent and targeted aid in that regard.
His Government was sceptical about the repeated attempts to place climate change on the Council’s agenda, he said, noting that as a compromise, his Government had agreed to join consensus in the adoption of General Assembly resolution 63/281 (2009). The Council’s consideration of the climate change issue was not right, as many countries were not prepared to see climate change placed on its agenda. Additionally, the Secretary-General’s report did not contain “serious arguments” to support those advocating its placement on the Council’s agenda. Rather, it merely discussed the hypothetical nature of climate change. While there also was a lack of empirical data to establish correlations, the report did contain “balanced” conclusions and observations on further work in that area. The Security Council was not referred to once in the report, and involving the Council in a regular review of climate change would not be of any added value; it would merely lead to more politicization of the issue and disagreement among countries.
NÉSTOR OSORIO (Colombia) said immediate challenges caused by climate change must be discussed by the Council. While responses to minimize the effects of climate change were not within the Council’s mandate, the Council had been called upon to play a role in conflict cases that were exacerbated by climate change’s impact, in order to provide humanitarian protection measures, which should not extend to other issues. The Council would be called upon to raise the visibility of the problem under the consolidation of trust among nations, based on respect for the mandates of the respective bodies of the international system, and based on a unifying spirit. Curbing greenhouse gas emissions required coordinated global action. Colombia had just suffered two cold spells, unprecedented in history, in less than eight months. Experts said that destruction was equal to 10 hurricane Katrinas and that Colombia had to mobilize extra resources to get help victims and preserve the integrity of natural ecosystems. Colombia had the political will to help save the planet.
GÉRARD ARAUD (France) said he particularly regretted the fact that the Council could not respond to Nauru’s appeal. He expressed concern especially over the threat to food security. France had made agricultural security a priority. He was also concerned about the subsequent threat to water resources and the viability of coastal resources that housed more than one-third of the world’s population. The international community must respond quickly and on a global scale. It must make the Cancun gains operational and it must move forward by developing a broader legal instrument to address climate change. He pointed to the “Clean Water for All” forum to be held in Marseille in March 2012. France and Kenya had launched the Paris-Nairobi initiative last April. During next year’s Rio+20 Conference, an ambitious road map to create a green economy must be adopted and it must account for the implications of climate change on maintaining global peace and security. The Council did not intend to replace the UNFCCC; it was simply facing up to new, complex, varied threats.
Last February, the Council held a useful debate on peace, security and development, he said. He regretted that, today, but was not responding in a similar way and was not ready to make a collective statement on climate change’s implications for maintaining international peace and security. However, today’s debate was a first step. Climate change threats meant the international community must mobilize in Durban and Rio. The Council must come back to that and, in the future, express itself with a single voice. That was not overly ambitious; it was just addressing today’s sad realities.
NAWAF SALAM (Lebanon), aligning with the Group of 77 developing countries and China, as well as the Non-Aligned Movement, said responsibility for sustainable development issues, including climate change, had been conferred upon the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council. While UNFCCC was the main instrument for addressing climate change, today’s discussion would not be an encroachment on the mandates of those other organs. Rather, it should be viewed as an expression of complementarity among United Nations bodies. The Secretary-General had identified climate change as a “threat multiplier”, with emerging threats like accelerated desertification, which could lead to more food insecurity and migratory flows. That, in turn, could be a source of more tension and water scarcity, which could exacerbate competition for natural resources.
He said that climate change impacts would be greater where factors for instability existed, especially in least developed countries. The cooperation of all countries, respecting the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, was needed. Indeed, the international community could not win against climate change without putting into action all the instruments in its possession. All resources should be mobilized in the areas of adaptation, mitigation, finance and capacity-building, to reduce the negative effects of global warming. For its part, the Council should play a critical role in conflict prevention by addressing the security implications of climate change.
DOCTOR MASHABANE (South Africa), aligning with the Group of 77 and the Non-Aligned Movement, reaffirmed the relevance of General Assembly resolution 63/281 (2009). Reiterating that climate change threatened development prospects and the very existence of societies, he said the fourth report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had made clear that without action, there would be dire consequences, particularly for small island developing States. South Africa joined calls for the full implementation of commitments contained in the Barbados and Mauritius Programmes of Action.
He said that while developing countries were working to eradicate poverty, they were confronted by a lack of resources and, thus, less able to deal with the negative impacts of climate change. As such, he called for a scaling up of resources, technology transfer and strengthened capacity to help those countries deal with climate change. The UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol were the best instruments to deal with the broad aspects of the challenge, and all must honour their obligations under them, in line with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. The Council could ensure that the architecture was strengthened and not fragmented. The UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol should be bolstered and a second commitment should be finalized as soon as possible. South Africa would spare no effort to ensure that parties achieved a balanced outcome in Durban.
ALFRED MOUNGARA MOUSSOTSI (Gabon) said fighting climate change was a priority of Gabon’s President. Without efficient cooperation climate change could lead to cross-border movements and make energy, biology and water resources more scarce. As that was a cross-cutting issue, the Council’s involvement was all the more important. The military aspect remained important, but that was not the only way of dealing with the complexity of the threat. Given new threats to international peace and security, the global community must have the necessary tools available. Preventive diplomacy was one tool to reduce new threats. He commended the United Nations assistance to States to help them create and implement new strategies. It was vital that the Council define a framework for cooperation, with a view to more effectively combating the phenomenon. He called the international community’s attention to the need to help Africans, noting that their very survival depended on the commitment to act with increasing urgency.
HARDEEP SINGH PURI (India) said that while the Council could discuss the vulnerabilities and threats induced by climate change, it did not have the wherewithal to address the situation. The existential threat to island States or food insecurity due to climate change could not be resolved or remedied by the Council, under Article 39 of the Charter. Such issues needed a broader approach, anchored in development, adaptive capacity, risk assessment and institutional build-up. “We, therefore, have some difficulty in accepting the assertion made that the effects of climate change go beyond the mandate of the UNFCCC,” he said. Those historically responsible for climate change must come forward with firm commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adequate resource and technology aid to developing countries, particularly small island developing States, he said. Sustainable economic development and growth must be pursued to enable developing countries to reduce poverty and meet basic standards of living for all. He called for urgent attention to address agricultural protectionism, excessive speculation in food commodity trading and diversion of crops for non-food purposes, which had led to an unsustainable global food situation.
JOSÉ FILIPE MORAES CABRAL ( Portugal) said his country did not see the Council as the forum for climate change negotiations or for discussions on measures to mitigate and adapt to environmental vulnerabilities. Those issues belonged to other “contexts” which had the legitimacy and the appropriate tools to address them. The Council’s role was to address new challenges and ensure they did not lead to tensions or conflict. Thus, there was an added value in its discussions of the impact that certain consequences of climate change might have for international peace and security and, thus, he regretted that the Council had not been able to reach consensus on an outcome for today’s discussion. A statement to be presented later today had his strong support. Finding solutions to specific security problems arising from climate change required a link between different perspectives and instruments, and could benefit from the combined contribution of different United Nations agencies.
Desertification and its effects on food production and water availability also should merit the Council’s attention, he said, as the consequences were often felt across national borders. It also contributed to the involuntary displacement of populations, which was, first and foremost, a humanitarian and development issue. But the strongest impact of desertification was felt in countries with social and economic vulnerabilities, some of which were emerging from conflict. If properly addressed, the security challenges whose effects were amplified by climate change might not necessarily lead to conflict. The Council should give priority to a preventive approach and to the development of early warning mechanisms. It also should be in a position to use existing mechanisms of dialogue to discuss the security impact of climate change with other international organizations. Regional and subregional mechanisms also should be assisted in managing shared resources.
Council President PETER WITTIG (Germany), speaking in his national capacity, aligned with the statement to be made by the European Union and recalled that, more than one year ago, the Pacific small island developing States had urged the Council to consider the security implications of climate change, and, thus, fulfil its mandate. Those countries were already suffering from the security implications of climate change: they were resettling their people and ensuring that the redistribution of basic commodities did not turn into fights for survival. Their situation was a compelling reason, in itself, to discuss the topic in the Council. Another reason was that events in some countries today might well occur in others tomorrow.
Most national security establishments considered global warming as among the biggest security challenges of the century, he said, underscoring there was no doubt that environmental degradation often acted as a driver of conflict. Such conflicts were not isolated in one country but tended to destabilize all regions. But not all States had the same capacity to adapt to dramatic environmental changes and it was the Council’s duty to “act with foresight” by doing its best to prevent crises before they became acute. For example, it had debated the interrelatedness of development with security. Germany did not want the Council to infringe on the competencies of the UNFCCC, or others, nor did the country seek to advance any such kind of encroachment. He regretted that the Council had been unable to find consensus on an outcome document for today’s meeting. While he still would prefer it to find common ground, the strong interest in today’s debate had made clear that members wished to see the topic on the Council’s agenda.
MARCUS STEPHEN, President of Nauru, speaking on behalf of the Pacific small island developing States, the Maldives, Seychelles and Timor-Leste, said many countries faced the single greatest security challenge from all the adverse impacts of climate change — their survival — which was why he had come to the Security Council today. Pacific islands faced potentially catastrophic impacts that threatened to destabilize their societies and institutions. Food and water security, as well as public safety, all were being undermined, which could eventually lead to some islands disappearing altogether, forcing large numbers of peoples to relocate — first internally and then across borders.
The Council had recognized its role in preventing conflict, he said, noting its recognition of the need to address unconventional security threats that could give rise to civil unrest, such as poverty and development. It had evaluated such problems, and in concert with other United Nations organs, deployed a variety of tools to address them. “We ask no less of you today,” he said. While UNFCCC must remain the primary forum for developing a strategy to mitigate climate change and mobilize resources, the Council had a clear role in coordinating the response to the security implications of the phenomenon. An effective international response required disaster planning and preparedness, risk assessments, and more effective multilateral coordination and preventive diplomacy.
While Council members understood the security challenges faced by Pacific and other island nations, solidarity demanded more than sympathetic words. “Demonstrate it by formally recognizing that climate change is a threat to international peace and security,” he urged. It was as great a threat as nuclear proliferation or terrorism. It should start by requesting the appointment of a special representative on climate and security, as well as an assessment of the United Nations capacity to respond to the security impacts of the phenomenon. The Council must reflect on current geopolitical realities if it was to remain relevant; it would render itself irrelevant if it chose to ignore the biggest security threat of our time. “Seize this opportunity to lead,” he implored.
RICHARD MARLES, Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs, Australia, said he had travelled to some of the countries most affected by climate change, but least responsible for it. Twenty of Australia’s 22 closest neighbours were developing countries, mostly small island developing States. Sea-level rise, the most significant impact of climate change in his region, could reach one metre by the end of the century, resulting in more severe storm surges, coastal inundation and loss of territory. Islands and low-lying territories might become uninhabitable, and as much of 80 per cent of the Marshall Islands’ Majuro Atoll, the nation’s capital, could erode and be lost.
The sea, he said, long a source of food, sustenance and comfort, was being transformed into a source of anxiety and threat. In the short- to medium-term, a mix of sea-level rise, more intense storms and inundation would put greater pressure on coastal settlements and might lead to further localized population displacements. In the long-term, if internal resettlement was no longer an option, climate change could cause destabilizing populations as people’s lives and livelihoods were put at risk.
Australia’s commitment to the UNFCCC was demonstrated by its domestic policy reform, he said. On 10 July, the Australian Prime Minister announced that Australia would legislate a carbon price, to take effect from 1 July 2012. While a difficult political debate, it was a critical piece of public policy reform. In 2020, Australia’s carbon price would have reduced the country’s carbon pollution by 160 million tonnes, the equivalent of taking 45 million cars off the road by that year. Australia was a strong proponent of Assembly resolution 63/281 (2009), which specifically stated that the Assembly and the Economic and Social Council had the overarching responsibility for sustainable development issues. However, the Council’s focus on climate change’s potential security implications was relevant to the Council’s mandate and did not compete with the other bodies.
Least developed countries, small island developing States and Africa had been given the highest priority in Australia’s fast-start package because their needs were the most urgent, he said. Thus far, Australia had allocated $498 million — more than 80 per cent — of the $599 million in fast-start funding to which it had committed in Copenhagen. He also supported calls for a Secretary-General report on the United Nations capacity to respond to the impact of climate change on global security and how to improve that capacity.
MAGED A. ABDELAZIZ (Egypt), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, pointed to General Assembly resolution 63/281 on climate change and its possible security implications, which recognized the respective responsibilities of the principal organs of the United Nations, including the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security conferred upon the Security Council, and the responsibility for sustainable development issues, including climate change, given to the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council. In that regard, the continued encroachment by the Security Council on the functions and powers of the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and the relevant subsidiary organs through addressing issues which fell traditionally within the competence of those organs remained a source of deep concern for the Non-Aligned Movement.
Stressing that the Security Council’s need to fully observe all Charter provisions establishing the delicate balance in competence between all principle organs, he said the Movement believed that close cooperation and coordination among all principal organs was indispensable to enable the Organization to effectively meet the existing, new and emerging threats and challenges. Further, the Movement stressed that climate change and its adverse impacts had to be addressed from the perspective of sustainable development, promoting a comprehensive approach to confront the root cause of the problem. The Movement, therefore, underlined its hope that the Council’s decision to hold today’s debate would not be considered a precedent and that the debate would not result in any form of outcome that undermined the authority or mandate of the relevant bodies, processes and instruments of wider membership that already addressed climate change.
JORGE ARGÜELLO (Argentina), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, said all Member States must promote sustainable development in line with the Rio Principles and fully implement Agenda 21 and other relevant instruments. He stressed the international community’s critical role in giving adequate, predictable and more financial resources, technology transfer and capacity-building to developing countries. The UNFCCC was the main global inter-governmental forum for negotiating the global response to climate change. An appropriate response must address the consequences and root causes of the problem. There was a strong case for developed countries to reduce emissions and take mitigation steps. He was “extremely concerned” that under current climate change negotiations, developed countries had given no clear indication that they would adopt a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol. Current mitigation pledges from developed countries’ parties in the UNFCCC negotiations were not sufficient to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions to a level that would limit global temperature rise to that called for by international scientific experts. Indeed, developed countries must raise their level of ambition.
He reiterated the need to coordinate global efforts and mobilize partners to help the observation networks throughout regional initiatives such as the South Pacific Sea Level and Climate Monitoring and Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre. He called on relevant United Nations bodies to reinforce regional broadcasting systems to help island communities during a disaster and increase the effectiveness of observation in those regions. Any measure taken in that context must ensure an integrated approach in responding to environmental emergencies. Support for developing countries must be bolstered. He called for full implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States and the Mauritius Strategy. He strongly reiterated his expectation that the Council’s initiative to hold today’s debate would not create a precedent that undermined the authority or mandate of relevant bodies, processes and instruments that already addressed climate change.
CARLOS ENRIQUE GARCÍA GONZÁLEZ(El Salvador), underscoring the negative consequences of climate change for small-scale rural subsistence economies in Asia, Africa and Latin America, said small island developing States also were affected by coastal flooding, reduction of drinking water and crop loss. Developed countries must commit to the goal of reducing greenhouse gasses. Latin America was among the most vulnerable regions to climate change.
In that context, he said no State could use its territory in a way that caused serious environmental damage to others, he said, welcoming the appeal by the Group of 77 for the main United Nations organs to do more to deal with the impacts of climate change, including its security repercussions. The Council should recognize the threat of climate change to international peace and security and respond with appropriate measures. The issue required significant political will within the ambit of multilateral talks to ensure it was addressed in the longer term.
PEDRO SERRANO, Acting Head of the Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations, fully shared the view that small island developing States were among the hardest-hit by climate change. In the Pacific area, the Union had a longstanding development partnership with 15 countries, addressing climate activities through a comprehensive mix of Union policies and instruments. “We should reflect on a common strategy for the region, while considering tailored actions to meet specific needs,” he said, noting that meaningful measures could be taken. Support to the poorest countries should come first and disaster preparedness should be enhanced.
He went on to say that ensuring food security was among the major challenges to be addressed, noting that climate change stood at the centre of pressures that would impact it in the coming decades. The cost of not addressing climate change would mean more food supply instability, volatility in food prices, and pressure on both water resources and migration, all of which threatened the political stability of fragile States. Two issues merited more research: access to water and water availability, which could threaten regional stability; and deforestation, which could lead to the displacement of peoples.
SANJA ŠTIGLIC (Slovenia) said climate change was “the ultimate global challenge” that called for global responsibility. Although it was already a reality, with collective effort, there was still time to secure the world’s future. The European Union was at the forefront of the climate change debate, which had led to the presentation in March 2008, during Slovenia’s Presidency, of the Joint Paper by the Union’s High Representative and the European Commission on Climate Change and International Security. That document remained a reference guide for European Union action. Success in addressing climate change depended foremost on the international community’s ability to achieve an ambitious post-2012 climate agreement and to limit global warming to below 2° C. Furthermore, building climate resilience was a priority for the most vulnerable countries and regions. UNFCCC negotiations should deliver a new climate deal that would reduce emissions and provide adequate financing and technology transfer for adaptation in developing countries. But neither could prevent climate change on their own. Close cooperation among relevant United Nations organs was needed to bolster efforts to address climate change and its potential security implications. Today’s debate was an important contribution towards that end.
CARSTEN STAUR (Denmark) said that in order to find a solution to the global threat of climate change, it was necessary to follow a multipronged strategy that incorporated climate and security in the work of all United Nations agencies as well as that of the relevant international, regional and national institutions. As developing countries were the most vulnerable, the issue must also be an integral part of international development cooperation. Such efforts had to include capacity-building to deal with security threats and political tension caused by climate change, as well as immediate adaptation activities, including improved disaster preparedness and warning systems.
Also, he said, mitigation actions must be started without delay, including further development of renewable sources and strategies on greening the economic development. Efforts to promote “global climate diplomacy” also needed strengthening, with all aspects of climate change addressed through a dialogue that promoted a coherent understanding of that issue and a common vision of its solution. In that regard, Denmark welcomed the recent European Union Foreign Affairs Council conclusions to strengthen the European Union’s climate diplomacy. To be efficient, it was important for relevant information on developments related to climate change and its security implications to be made easily accessible. He also stressed the crucial need to ensure a joint response from the international community to the global challenge of climate change to secure international peace and security.
SYLVIE LUCAS (Luxembourg), aligning with the European Union, underscored that the adverse impacts of climate change had repercussions on the security of many States, especially small island developing States, exacerbating poverty and the fault lines of mistrust between communities and nations. As early as 2005, the Council had underlined the need to adopt a comprehensive strategy of conflict prevention, dealing with the underlying causes of armed conflict as well as the political and social crises in a global manner.
She said that it was paramount that the implications of climate change on security be factored into the reflections and mandates of the Council, as well as into the activities of the entire United Nations. Climate change, with its potentially drastic consequences on the displacement and transfer of populations, would grow more crucial as an underlying cause of conflict.
EDUARDO ULIBARRI (Costa Rica) said the primary responsibility for dealing with climate change should be with the UNFCCC. All efforts to deal with the issue should take that into account and aim to support work plans and goals within that framework. To tackle more than just the peripheral actions, an agreement must be reached to reduce greenhouse gas concentrations to levels established in the Convention. That could be achieved with the firm participation of the main emitters, all of which were “present around this table”, and many of which had an historic responsibility to that end. All of them should undertake a clear commitment to reduce greenhouse gasses.
The Council, he said, should concentrate on actions to avoid conflicts that could arise from climate change, including fights for water resources, forced displacements and the risk of a country disappearing. Such actions went beyond the Council’s mandate and they should be managed under the provisions of the Convention. Adaptation to climate change should be strengthened, with the major economies increasing their financial flows to those impacted by the problem, especially small island developing States. Developing countries required direct investments in early warning systems and technology transfers. Developing nations must act transparently, with good governance and respect for the rule of law. Headway would not be made if political decisions were not taken to ensure the Convention achieved its objectives.
ANTHONY SIMPSON (New Zealand) said that for low-lying small island States, including several in the Pacific, for whom climate change posed the ultimate security risk — that of ceasing to exist as States and as communities — discussion over whether today’s debate was a legitimate one for the Council seemed abstract and deeply divorced from reality. In the past few years, the Asia-Pacific region had faced a devastating series of natural disasters. In the coming years, such events would become even more frequent and severe. Those forecasts were deeply worrying. Several steps were needed to prevent and address the security impact of climate change, including building developing countries’ adaptive capacity so they could better cope with future climate-related events before they became security challenges. Resilience to climate change must take into account existing and future resource use to reduce pressures on resources, thus building necessary buffers to offset the perils and threatened supplies. He also called for measures to mitigate and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, stressing that the importance of this year’s Durban meeting and implementation of the Cancun agreements.
He said his country was working on adaptation and mitigation projects through bilateral, regional and multilateral initiatives. New Zealand’s climate change assistance in the Pacific placed strong emphasis on “climate-proofing” new infrastructure. It was important to share best practices. New Zealand’s initiative to set up the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases aimed to ensure that efforts to reduce agricultural emissions did not compromise global food security. He supported the call by the Pacific small island developing States for possible mechanisms to support the early identification of climate-related security challenges and to promote comprehensive and cohesive research, analysis and action to address their underlying causes.
KIM SOOK ( Republic of Korea), recalling the Council’s “fruitful” open debate in February on the interdependence between security and development, said today’s debate could marshal compelling arguments to encourage world leaders to reduce carbon emissions and invest in adaptation to guard against insecurity. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had estimated that between 350 and 600 million Africans would be at risk of increased water stress by the middle of the century, while yields from rain-fed agriculture could be slashed by up to 50 per cent by 2020. Given the global nature of climate change, responses to it called for the widest possible cooperation.
He said that while the UNFCCC was the key instrument for addressing climate change, relevant United Nations organs, as appropriate and within their mandates, should intensify their efforts to address climate change and its possible security implications. Due to its link to other global issues like poverty, underdevelopment and the food and energy crises, climate change should be addressed in the broader context of sustainable development. That approach had his Government’s strong support. He hoped that today’s debate would jumpstart the search for wise solutions and help lead to a breakthrough in climate change talks.
OCTAVIO ERRÁZURIZ (Chile) said his country had strong links with small island developing States in the Pacific and shared their concerns regarding climate change. Today’s debate should not divert the authority and efforts of relevant processes dealing with such an important matter. Nor should it prevent the international community from strengthening mitigation, adaptation, and economic, social and environmental development. Global cooperation and the exchange of relevant information as well as increased scientific research would lead to solutions to climate change. In dealing with serious matters such as the spread of desertification, it was necessary to reaffirm that the UNFCCC was the fundamental instrument to address climate change. He stressed the importance of common but differentiated responsibility, advancing towards a broad, legally binding agreement and concluding negotiations as soon as possible on the Kyoto Protocol in order to avoid a vacuum between commitment periods.
TALAIBEK KYDYROV (Kyrgyzstan) said food insecurity, due to food price hikes, in least developed and developing countries was especially complicated for mountain countries like Kyrgyzstan and could eventually lead to food shortages followed by conflict. It was important, therefore, to implement Assembly resolution 64/205 on sustainable mountain development in terms of ensuring food security for mountain countries. Fresh water supplies from the glaciers of Kyrgyzstan had been rapidly decreasing, owing to the 20 per cent reduction of glacier surface in the last 30 to 40 years. It could decline further by 35 per cent in 20 years, causing critical freshwater shortage and negative consequences for global peace and security, and fully disappear by 2100. Effective inter- and intra-State water use and allocation measures were needed, as well as forestry conservation, natural disaster prevention, and environment-friendly renewable energy source development. Natural disasters must be taken into account when implementing conflict prevention, crisis management, peacebuilding, and post-conflict stabilization measures.
YANERIT MORGAN ( Mexico) said climate change was far from being a threat to international peace and security in the strictest sense, however, science had illuminated the risks associated with that challenge. Commitments taken eight months ago in Cancún must be adhered to, while the international legal framework should be strengthened and “adjusted to the task”. Without reducing emissions, the impacts of climate change would limit agricultural production, increase soil degradation and produce changes in the vectors of disease transmission — all of which would be felt most strongly in the poorest countries. The effects of climate change also would affect social stability.
Such challenges could not be solved with one single solution, she said, but rather involved participation of all actors in society. In Cancún, results had been achieved. For its part, Mexico was implementing its commitments, which had allowed the country to reduce its emissions as much as possible in the short- and medium-term. In Durban, the collective ambition must be further developed. The Kyoto Protocol was a rules-based system to achieve goals and it must be complemented by another protocol for countries that had not committed to it.
DIEGO MOREJÓN (Ecuador), aligning with the Group of 77 developing countries and the Non-Aligned Movement, agreed that the UNFCCC was the mandated body to steer climate change issues. The Kyoto Protocol should be respected, as must Annex I commitments. The General Assembly, as the United Nations universal body, was the ideal forum for recommending ways to address the repercussions of climate change. Indeed, climate change was affecting ecosystems around the world, to which developing countries were most vulnerable. That called for a cohesive response, which included technology transfers. Also essential was to boost political support for the second Kyoto Protocol period. Existing instruments should be used as a basis for that work, and agreements adopted under the Convention should be strengthened.
RODOLFO ELISEO BENÍTEZ VERSÓN (Cuba) expressed serious concern over the Council’s growing, excessive encroachment of the functions of other principal United Nations organs. Climate change must be discussed under the sustainable development cluster. Therefore, it must be addressed in the General Assembly, Economic and Social Council and their relevant subsidiary bodies. The main reason why the UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol had not been achieved and the existence of small island developing States was threatened was the lack of political will of developed countries to pay their historical debt to the planet. If the Council wanted to contribute seriously to the search for solutions, it should begin with a statement that stressed, among other things, the principle of common but differentiated responsibility, underscore the importance for developed countries to meet their international development commitments, call upon industrialized nations to assume a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol with measurable and more ambitious goals on emissions reduction, and recognize that the main cause of climate change was the unsustainable production and consumption patterns in developed countries.
MARY ELIZABETH FLORES (Honduras) said that limiting today’s debate only to the impacts of rising sea levels and food security was simplistic, as each time nature rebelled against humans, its predatory actions provoked chain reactions. Some degree of preparedness, in the form of identifying solutions to vulnerabilities, had proven helpful in mitigating the consequences. In designing policies, it was imperative to consider the differences among countries in terms of geography, politics and culture. Honduras was devising a mitigation strategy and building awareness around the belief that only by safeguarding its natural richness would it be able to preserve its ecosystems. Honduras’ vulnerability also was related to peoples’ lack of ability to find decent work and live under a safe roof. Its reality was very different from that of more privileged nations and required a precise understanding to ensure that solutions suitable to others were not mistakenly transferred to Honduras.
ANNE WEBSTER (Ireland), aligning with the European Union, said rising sea levels presented the ultimate security threat to States whose very existence was at stake. A stark picture of the grim reality had been brought home at a conference of Women Leaders on Climate Justice, at which speakers from Papua New Guinea’s Carteret Islands described how unprecedented high tides had destroyed the soil for food production, forcing the evacuation of all 1,500 islanders to Bougainville. Statelessness and territory loss had become a realistic prospect rather than theoretical possibility. The United Nations could foster a global response to such phenomena.
Perhaps the greatest impact of climate change was an increase in the scale and intensity of hunger, she said, noting that millions of people were at risk of starvation in some of the most hostile conditions imaginable. More than 78,000 Somalis had fled their country in the last two months. The security implications of more frequent, more extreme weather events included hunger, coupled with failing yields and escalating food prices. The case for the Security Council to recognize the threat of climate change to international peace and security was clear and compelling. Its work in that area was supported by various instruments, including resolution 1625 (2005). Ireland supported the mandates for the Council to request the Secretary-General to report on contextual information involving the drivers of conflict. Climate change was one such driver.
TAKESHI OSUGA (Japan) said the anticipated timeframe for dealing with climate change was different than that for dealing with armed conflict, even though climate change would have indirect adverse effects on security. At the same time, he urged caution in considering what role the Council could play in global warming as it related to international peace and security. Receding coastlines would affect territorial waters. Those impacts that would not be limited to small island developing States, and thus, could incite disputes. Sea-level rise would aggravate the vulnerability of coastal States to environmental hazards, which also could raise the risk of conflict. Food security, the distribution of water resources and global health all would be impacted, weakening communities’ ability to resolve existing disputes.
The poorest countries, and the poorest people and communities within a country, were the most vulnerable to climate change, he said. Japan understood the nexus between climate change, development and security. A fair, effective international framework in which all major economies took part must be established, while agreements reached under the UNFCCC should be built upon. Japan would engage in preparations for the seventeenth Conference of Parties. In Copenhagen, Japan had pledged to provide $15 billion to developing countries to 2012 and had implemented $9.7 billion up to this year. His Government was fully committed to supporting small island developing States. To promote global cooperation on disaster risk reduction, a new global strategy must be devised to succeed the Hyogo Framework for Action (2005-2015). Japan was willing to host a third world conference on that topic.
VANU GOPALA MENON (Singapore) stressed the need to recognize that the UNFCCC was and would remain the primary forum for climate change negotiations. The aim of today’s debate was not to prejudice the ongoing negotiations, but he saw a need for the UNFCCC to work closely with other United Nations agencies, funds and programmes, especially concerning adaptation and capacity-building. The Council could also make an important contribution to climate change discussions by helping to build greater awareness of the catastrophic long-term consequences of climate change, including the possible security consequences. It could also help reinforce ongoing efforts to inject political momentum into the UNFCCC negotiating process for a successful outcome in Durban. In that regard, Council members must show leadership. The success of multilateral negotiations must be a collective effort. Developed countries clearly had a historical responsibility to address climate change, but all countries must participate and act with a sense of urgency.
GRÉTA GUNNARSDÓTTIR (Iceland) said it was timely and important for the Council to address the security implications of climate change. The UNFCCC framework was the primary forum for addressing climate change internationally, but the Council should recognize the threats to global peace and security and seek ways to address them. Climate change magnified existing inequalities. Women were especially vulnerable. Rural areas in developing States, emerging economies as well as sectors and activities traditionally associated with women were disproportionately affected by climate change. Women faced greater hardships with household activities and the daily struggle for survival. Fewer water resources also negatively effected health, sanitation and food security, additionally burdening women. Due to their social roles and responsibilities, women were also more vulnerable to natural disasters than men. The principles guiding the Council when it adopted resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security must guide its work when addressing today’s topic. The Council must ensure that the response to climate change took the gender perspective into account and that both sexes were included in decision-making and implementation.
GILLES RIVARD (Canada) said his country strove to be an accountable and reliable partner of small island developing States and had consistently supported effective responses by the Security Council to new and emerging security challenges. While climate change had the potential to act as a stressor in failed and fragile States, it would not be the driver of conflict. To support mitigation and adaptation efforts in developing countries, least developed countries and small island developing States, Canada had contributed $400 million in new and additional climate financing for the 2010-2011 fiscal year alone.
He went on to say that Canada also had played a lead role in supporting responses to food crises, notably in 2009, when it pledged to more than double its investment in sustainable agricultural development. Food security was also among its five international assistance priorities. Such solutions could enhance resilience, build institutions and reduce economic devastation, which, in turn, built a strong foundation for the maintenance of peace and security.
ROBERT GUBA AISI (Papua New Guinea) reiterated the unequivocal statement made by the President of Nauru that the UNFCCC was and must remain the primary forum for developing an international strategy to mitigate climate change, mobilize financial resources and facilitate adaptation planning and project implementation. He also strongly supported the President of Nauru’s call for the General Assembly to continue addressing the links between climate change and sustainable development. He called for a “whole United Nations approach” to address climate change that would involve all relevant United Nations organs. Each must play its respective role, be it to set up the relevant policy framework moving forward or to finance the various climate change response mechanisms. The Council also had an important role to play. It must exercise its mandate to address the security implications of climate change, including future contingencies. The same purposeful approach employed by the Council to tackle HIV/AIDS and development issues should be used to address the security implications of climate change.
ESHAGH AL HABIB (Iran) said the Council’s repeated encroachment into Charter-defined mandates of other principal United Nations organs was a matter of serious concern. While the Council had not been able or willing to genuinely address the well-established causes of insecurity and conflicts worldwide, its insistence on delving into issues outside its competence that were not generally believed or proven to threaten world peace and security was reprehensible. Overstretching the Council, with its current exclusive structure and non-transparent working methods, would have grave consequences on the functioning of other United Nations bodies. Rather, Council members could best be of service in combating climate change by honouring their commitments to capacity-building, the unconditional transfer of climate-friendly technologies and the provision of financial resources to countries most in need, particularly small island developing States, least developed countries and Africa. They should also commit to meaningfully reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
MANSOUR AYYAD SH A ALOTAIBI (Kuwait), speaking on behalf of the Group of Arab States, and supporting the statements delivered on behalf the Non-Aligned Movement and Group of 77, stressed that the responsibility to maintain international peace and security fell primarily on the Security Council. He cited resolution 377 (1950) in that regard. The Council should not encroach on the mandates of other principal United Nations bodies. Climate change, integral to sustainable development, must be tackled in a holistic manner, and responsibilities for that issue were borne by the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and their subsidiary bodies.
He stressed the need for all States to support sustainable development in line with the Rio principles, especially that for common but and differentiated responsibilities. The UNFCCC was the best forum for dealing with the dangers of climate change and for measures to be taken in accordance with the Convention. Developed countries that had yet to adhere to the Kyoto Protocol must do so. He also emphasized that no Security Council presidential or press statement should be issued after today’s open debate, especially any that would undermine relevant organs or processes.
BYRGANYM AITIMOVA (Kazakhstan) said that while climate change deliberations were within the purview of the General Assembly and the UNFCCC, her Government understood the rationale for discussing the topic in the Council, as its effects seriously threatened human security. The vast number of emergency appeals for humanitarian aid as a response to climate-related crises was leading to irreversible security scenarios. The security risks directly affected national and international interests, requiring a comprehensive policy response to deal with food, water and energy shortages. The areas most affected would be those under demographic pressure and a massive influx of “environmental” migrants, which would lead to political, religious and ethnic radicalization.
As such, she recommended strengthening the UNFCCC to address the impacts of climate change on international security. It was critical to enhance knowledge, assess the capacities of regional bodies and Member States, and improve early disaster response. The financial implications for such responses should be considered by the United Nations and donors. Also, the security dimension of climate change could strain international relations, as well as donor capacity, but it was becoming a positive driver for reforming global governance in the United Nations and its specialized agencies, as well as the regional political structures. She urged that international climate change negotiations continue, with a due focus on the General Assembly in tandem with all the system’s organs.
THOMAS LAMBERT (Belgium), aligning with the European Union, said that since the Secretary-General’s 2009 report, the issue of climate change had not been present in debates in New York. While the UNFCCC was the adequate forum for dealing with that phenomenon, other organs, like the Security Council and the Assembly, should remain seized of the matter. Some might argue that the threats of climate change were remote, but that was not the case. Abrupt climate change could lead to the rapid “die-back” of tropical forests and to higher sea levels. As the first avenue for prevention was mitigation, he urged that UNFCCC negotiations be stepped up to make more progress.
Beyond that, he said it was essential for States to increase their readiness to cope with the effects of climate change, including the relocation of people in small and low-lying islands, which had already begun. Climate change was also threatening the very resources vital for human life: water, fertile land, food and energy. Scarcity might lead to a breakdown of coping mechanisms of groups or individuals, and carry with it a growing risk of instability and conflict. Climate change would become a more important factor among the root causes of conflict. In response, a framework for preventive diplomacy was needed, as were steps towards a coherent approach within the United Nations system.
ROBERTO RODRÍGUEZ (Peru) said there was historic need to combat climate change. Peru’s population lived in a highly diverse ecosystem. El Nino had caused coastal flooding and several droughts in the Andes, with grave social and economic consequences. The rapid melting of Peru’s glaciers, which accounted for half of the tropical glaciers worldwide, reduced the availability of water for human consumption, agriculture and energy. The Peruvian Amazon forest, Latin America’s second-largest forest, was an incalculable biodiversity reserve. The threat to climate change was by no means a foreign concept to Peru. Global concerted action through the UNFCC, particularly based on common but differentiated responsibility, was needed to address it. It was urgent to adopt specific measures to contain greenhouse gas emissions, and he called for creation of lower carbon intensity processes, financing and cooperation mechanisms. Peru was highly dependent on agriculture, most of which relied exclusively on rainfall. It was extremely vulnerable to climate change, and he called for global measures to ensure food security worldwide, particularly through effective strategies, financing mechanisms, extended North-South cooperation and other measures.
ABULKALAM ABDUL MOMEN (Bangladesh), aligning with the Group of 77 and the Non-Aligned Movement, said climate change-induced food insecurity, the uprooting of populations and related adversity threatened international peace and security. He called on parties concerned to implement pledges in the Joint Statement on Global Food Security, adopted at the 2009 L’Aquila Summit. Sea-level rise was another concern for Bangladesh, as it could displace 30 to 50 million people from the country’s coastal belts by 2050, depriving those people of their livelihoods.
The effects of climate change would be severe on least developed countries and small island developing States, he explained, calling for the full implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action, the Mauritius Declaration and the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States. Agenda 21, adopted at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, also should be fully implemented by all stakeholders. Developed countries should ensure provision of adequate and predictable resources, and transfer technology to developing nations, while the United Nations must have an integrated approach to mitigating the adverse impacts of climate change.
RAFAEL ARCHONDO (Bolivia) expressed solidarity with the island States. Climate change was a real threat to humanity and Mother Earth. But the Council should not deal with it because some of the main emitters of global greenhouse gases were permanent Council members and they had the right to veto. The security implications of climate change should be dealt with in a forum where the guilty parties did not have seats for life or the right to veto. The main victims — including island States at risk of disappearing, countries with glaciers, Africa and developing nations — must have adequate representation. The only forums that could provide that were the UNFCCC and the General Assembly, which should deal with all aspects of climate change. Developed countries should increase their commitment to reduce global greenhouse gases. According to the World Humanitarian Forum, 350,000 people died annually due to climate change events.
For that reason, he said, a body should be set up to guarantee the rights of nature as well as to judge and sanction those guilty of not complying with their commitments to reduce emissions, because they were provoking genocide and “ecocide” against Mother Earth. He called for the creation of an international tribunal for climate and environmental justice. Developed countries only gave $10 billion annually to address climate change, just 1 per cent of their defence and security spending. They should redirect defence funds to address development in island States, Africa, mountain countries, and all affected poor regions. The Council should adopt a resolution that would cut defence and security spending by 20 per cent and use that money instead to address the impact of climate change.
STUART BECK (Palau), associating with Nauru, said the Security Council was responsible for carrying out the most crucial international tasks and had been accorded extraordinary powers by the Charter. When a threat to international peace and security arose, it had the mandate and “limitless” ability to act, a basic function that should be uncontroversial. Palau, therefore, was surprised to hear any opposition to an outcome from today’s debate, as the best available science clearly had shown clearly that the Western Pacific region had already undergone twice as much sea-level rise as other regions. Pacific small island developing States were “in the red zone”.
Perhaps if others stood on its vanishing shores they would appreciate its situation, he said. While the causes of that threat were novel, its effects — which endangered sovereignty and territorial integrity — fit squarely within the Council’s traditional mandate. The Council had before it modest, constructive and achievable proposals and he requested that it adopt them. If not, he pledged that Palau would continue to call on every United Nations organ to intensify its efforts to address climate change and security.
CSABA KÖRÖSI (Hungary), aligning with the European Union, discussed the direct threats from rising water levels, saying that for some countries, the loss of territory might be fatal. In Europe, 20 to 30 million people could be forced to leave their homes in the next 50 to 70 years, and globally, more than 300 million could be relocated. Vulnerable societies could be overburdened by such events. The indirect threats could involve a challenge to fishing and mining rights if territorial waters and exclusive economic zones changed significantly. Traditional donors should spend more on mitigation projects and less on assisting other areas.
In addition, there would be inland security consequences, he said, citing dramatically changed conditions for food production and increased volatility of rivers, which would result in uncontrollable floods. “Food security in the last 60 years has never been as fragile as today,” he said, urging that an analysis of peacekeeping and peacebuilding activities of the Council, as well as other bodies, be carried out to prevent States from relapsing into conflict. The international community should spare no effort in responding to the impacts of climate change. With that, he urged that the Council “maintain its vigilance” on the security implications of climate change.
JANNE TAALAS (Finland), aligning his country with the statement of the European Union, said it was clear that climate change would have significant security implications, noting that sea-level rise and food security were directly linked to international peace and security. Only 20 years ago it was unimaginable that small island nations could be submerged due to sea-level rise. Today that prospect was all too real, and climate change would have an adverse impact on food production and freshwater resources. That impact would be worse in areas already under environmental stress. That situation could lead not only to population shifts, but to political unrest as well.
While the impact of climate change varied from region to region, the small island developing States were most at risk, said Mr. Taalas, explaining that although they were not the cause of climate change, they could well become its first victims unless remedial action was taken as a priority. For its part, Finland was partnering with many small island developing States to build their capacity to act internationally and to adapt locally. In that regard, his country supported the capacity development of the Alliance of Small Island States and the Pacific Small Island Developing States and had meteorological cooperation projects in the Pacific and Caribbean regions. Concluding, he said that the Security Council, given its pre-eminent role in maintaining international peace and security, should keep an eye on emerging security implications of climate change. He pledged that if his country was elected to the Council next year, it would contribute actively to any such assessment and action.
JOSEPH GODDARD (Barbados), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and aligning with the Group of 77, as well as the Non-Aligned Movement, said the possible security implications of climate change must be addressed at the multilateral level by bodies that were inclusive, representative and transparent. The Security Council should refrain from encroaching on the functions that the United Nations Charter or tradition had placed within the General Assembly’s purview. That said, urgent actions taken to address climate change would reduce the security implications associated with it.
With leadership, a bold response to climate change was possible, he said, underlining that it was morally and ethically unacceptable to fail to respond to the needs of peoples facing hunger, drought, extreme weather events and the loss of life, when the means and tools were at States’ disposal to address those problems. No effort was being spared to avert a global financial meltdown and a similar effort was required to avert a climate catastrophe. In that context, he urged developed countries to take the lead in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing financial and technological assistance to poor countries. The Barbados Programme of Action and the Mauritius Strategy must also be fully and quickly implemented.
FAZLI ÇORMAN ( Turkey) said climate change posed a risk too great to ignore, which could not be met by any single State alone. Turkey was fully committed to contributing to global efforts to address climate change and considered the UNFCCC the central multilateral instrument to guide collective actions. Indeed, States must work together to define the elements of the post-2012 regime. Climate change posed a severe risk to political and social stability, especially in overpopulated and underdeveloped regions, such as water shortfalls, declines in agricultural productivity, sea-level rise and spikes in the rates and geographic scope of malaria, to name a few.
He explained that those effects would curtail sustainable development, and that small island developing States and least developed countries would be hit hardest, with their structural constraints and limited resources. Given such circumstances, adaptation merited further consideration. A key issue was the identification of successful cases of adaptation. Stressing that sufficient long-term financing and novel technologies were needed, he said it was clear the international community must speed its efforts to combat climate change. Such efforts would contribute to prosperity, peace and security.
LIBRAN N. CABACTULAN (Philippines), aligning himself with both the statements of the Non-Aligned Movement and the Group of 77, pointed out that his country, like many developing island States, was highly vulnerable to the adverse impact of climate change. The increasing frequency and severity of floods, droughts and typhoons were already stretching to the limit his Government’s capacity and resources to aid the victims of natural disasters. Global warming also had affected the country’s yield of staple crops such as rice and corn; and even marine resources had felt the effects of the phenomenon. The recent toll in the fish kill in some provinces of the Philippines continued to mount, endangering the livelihood of thousands of fisher folk, he noted.
The rise in the sea-level was another threat to the integrity of the Philippine archipelago, and to that end, he shared the grave concern of the small island developing States about the short- and long-term consequences of climate change and the havoc it would bring if nothing was done to mitigate its pernicious consequences. ”It is ironic that small island and developing States, particularly those in the tropical areas like the Philippines, are the least responsible for this global problem and yet they face and bear the most adverse consequences,” he observed. Climate change, particularly global warming, would continue unless significant gains were achieved in the campaign to immediately reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Thus, he called for the involvement of the entire international community in the search for the best course of action to take now, instead of waiting for “a major catastrophic event to happen”.
Following a readout of a presidential statement by the Security Council President, MACHARIA KAMAU (Kenya) said climate change impacted Kenyans’ lives and livelihoods in ways that were difficult to describe, as lives were lost and children suffered. Food security, the water situation, the drying up of rivers and access to shelter — driven by the disappearance of forests — all were conditions directly related to the human security of Kenyans. Health and education also were directly affected, as people found themselves forced out of their homes by drought or the lack of food. Today, Kenya faced another drought, following that of 2008. It was a weather-based economy, depending on agriculture — the backbone of the economy — and wildlife. It had suffered a 3 to 5 per cent loss in economic growth due to climate change.
He said Kenya had truly scarce resources, as less than one third of the country was arable, making land a “premium product”. In the last month, 1,300 people had entered Kenya, joining Somalis who had already sought refuge in the country, driven by the lack of food, water and security. “This is a real concern for us and the correlation between that and climate change is direct,” he stressed. Indeed, the Horn of Africa was experiencing the most severe drought in years, and Kenya was conscious of what efforts it would take to achieve peace and stability, and the kind of economic growth that would allow it to overcome poverty. In that context, he underlined the need for a clear, determined long-term solution. The Security Council, and by extension, the General Assembly, was starting to understand that climate change was a serious enough situation to require solutions that everyone could use to change the opportunities for their children.
DAFFA-ALLA ELHAG ALI OSMAN ( Sudan) underscored the need to coordinate United Nations bodies and agencies dedicated to conflict prevention in order to combat the security effects of climate change. Aligning with the Non-Aligned Movement, the Group of 77, and the Arab Group, he said Sudan had suffered from a conflict in the Darfur district. Drought and desertification brought on by climate change were among the basic reasons for that conflict. There was a saying that a shepherd could not see his cow die, but rather, could see his son die before his eyes.
He said that if the international community had helped Sudan address the basic reasons for conflict — a lack of economic development stemming from drought and desertification — Sudan would not have needed the $3 billion spent on peacekeeping operations in Darfur. It would have been better to spend those funds on addressing the problems emanating from desertification and drought. Sudan, within the Doha round of trade talks, had reached a basic document accepted by all stakeholders in Darfur, which he hoped would bring a rapid end to the conflict there. Sudan also had established a bank. If the United Nations concentrated on the basic causes of the conflict, peace and security could be achieved.
HENRY TACHIE-MENSON (Ghana) expressed his country’s firm belief that investment in adaptation activities that provided information on vulnerability, climate risk and early warning signals, and the building of States’ adaptive capacities through measures such as co-management of water resources as well as support to domestic and regional conflict resolution institutions, would enhance security and reduce the potential for conflicts. Similarly, responses to “environmental wars” should not focus mainly on military solutions to secure resources or erect barriers to migration, but instead on the cost-effective alternative of adaptation.
He further expressed the hope that putting climate change in that “high politics category” of security would not draw attention away from such development challenges such as extreme poverty, access to education, and HIV/AIDS, all of which posed an urgent threat to vulnerable societies. They all needed to be addressed together. In that context, it was Ghana’s fervent hope that today’s debate would lead to actions that complemented and acted as a boost to the work of the relevant institutions tasked with handling sustainable development issues, and that such actions would be timely, concerted and sustainable.
JORGE VALERO BRICEÑO (Venezuela), aligning with the Group of 77 and the Non-Aligned movement, said the Council’s growing “invasion” of the functions and responsibilities of other United Nations organs was a “distortion” of the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter, an abuse of authority that affected the rights of the majority of Member States. Matters of sustainable development belonged to the General Assembly, Economic and Social Council and auxiliary organs, including the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
Venezuela refused any climate change initiative presented outside the scope of the UNFCCC, he said, as that would deeply affect multilateral institutions focused on that issue. Climate change had not been ruled a mandate of the Security Council. Venezuela would cooperate on the cause of sustainable development of small, insular States. Within the UNFCCC, his Government had called for strengthening the institutions and mechanisms that would contribute to the creation of State capacities to counteract the effects of climate change. With that, he urged States to promote sustainable development by joining the principles of the Rio Convention, and to fully apply Agenda 21.
LUKE DAUNIVALU (Fiji) said the territorial integrity of small island developing States — and their very existence as sovereign nations — faced far greater threats from climate change than from human conflict or other atrocities. The nature of the security implications of climate change should demonstrate the need for attention from all principal United Nations organs. In requesting the Council to deal with today’s topic, Fiji did not consider there to be any encroachment on the mandates of other relevant United Nations organs and bodies. “What we are asking the Council to do is fulfil its responsibilities conferred upon it by the Charter,” he said.
Fiji also requested that the Council fully respect the mandates of other principle United Nations organs, as well as other relevant bodies, processes and instruments addressing climate change, he said, reaffirming that UNFCCC was the primary forum for developing an international strategy to mitigate climate change and mobilize resources. The General Assembly also should continue to address the links between climate change and sustainable development. As a cross-cutting issue, climate change should be given the necessary attention it deserved. The price of inaction would be immeasurably high, as history taught there would be severe security implications arising from the great challenges ahead.
ŁUKASZ ZIELIŃSKI (Poland), aligning with the European Union, said climate change could weaken fragile Governments and increase migratory pressures, while its potential consequences for water availability and food security, among other things, could aggravate existing tensions and generate new conflicts. Water should be at the centre of climate adaptation efforts, as water shortage had the potential to cause civil unrest and significant economic loss. Investments and water management policy changes should be prioritized.
Moreover, competition over access to and control over energy resources was among the most significant sources of potential conflicts, he said, as much of the world’s strategic reserves were in regions vulnerable to climate change. The main threat to energy security came from reliance on imports and lack of infrastructure, and transforming energy systems to reduce emissions would be indispensable to reaching mitigation actions. “Urgent action at the global level is needed to face the security challenges of climate change,” he said, which required new thinking in foreign policy “outside the environmental box”. Countries’ capacity for early warning must be strengthened. A global framework of risk management also was needed, as was enhanced international cooperation to monitor the security threats related to climate change.
OMBENI Y. SEFUE (United Republic of Tanzania) said poor countries like his had the least capacity to mitigate the impact of climate change. The solution to climate change was sustainable development. Climate change was best handled by entities mandated to deal with sustainable development, and not the Council. During a similar discussion in 2007, most Member States felt that the Council should avoid treading on the mandates of other United Nations entities such as UNFCCC and the Economic and Social Council. The threat of possible loss of land mass and the subsequent creation of climate refugees was a threat that his country shared with Pacific islands. For that reason, he attached great importance to the ongoing multilateral negotiations aimed at amicable solutions. Isolating climate change could weaken a possible early conclusion of UNFCCC negotiations. The Secretary-General should be asked to conduct a comprehensive study to determine the size and scope of the threat facing Pacific islands and others in similar positions, as well as present various options and solutions for the Assembly’s consideration. Countries that provided carbon sequestration services must be given incentives. His country had dedicated more than 30 per cent of its land mass for forest reserves and national parks.
RON PROSOR (Israel) said today’s debate provided a timely opportunity to “think outside the box” on the effects of climate change on peace and security, which were real and would become more evident in the years to come. Israel recognized that climate change held particular significance for Pacific small island developing States. The challenges associated with climate change required an immediate, coordinated and wide-ranging international response.
For its part, Israel continued to work towards achieving a 20 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, he said. It was also working to improve the efficiency of energy systems and increasing the use of renewable energy sources. Knowledge in those fields would be critical in adaptation efforts. In addition, Israel would again initiate a resolution on “agricultural technology for development” in the General Assembly, which would promote the use of sustainable agricultural technology.
JUAN PABLO DE LAIGLESIA (Spain) said that today, “hazy” security threats stemmed from lack of access to drinking water, global pandemics and environmental issues, to name a few. The Council had spent time on development and HIV/AIDS issues, as they constituted threats to international security. Climate change must be tackled from the same point of view, and he was pleased that agreement had been reached on a presidential statement.
Aligning with the European Union, he said that Spain, on 28 June, had adopted a new security strategy in which climate change was among the main vectors of security risks. It anticipated conflicts to be generated by lack of access to resources and poverty. On a global level, climate change required joint coordination and responsibility, and Spain was committed to actively participating in multilateral forums, including the UNFCCC and the Security Council. In sum, he reiterated Spain’s commitment to combating climate change.
CESARE MARIA RAGAGLINI (Italy), aligning with the European Union, noted that climate change was a “threat multiplier” and pointed out that the international community had yet to fully activate the “threat minimizers” that could lower the risk of climate-related insecurity, such as a globally-shared climate mitigation and adaptation mechanism, and a system of strengthened international cooperation, preventive diplomacy and mediation. Sea-level rise was among the most dramatic and tangible climate-related insecurity factors as it seriously endangered the living conditions of millions of people.
He went on to say that small island developing States must be adequately supported in their efforts at adaptation and disaster preparedness and in drafting sustainable development policies. Careful consideration must also be given to situations in which sea-level rise threatened to significantly alter the coastline, impacting territorial borders and the division of maritime zones. In addition, food security, though not a direct consequence of climate change, could be aggravated by global warming and extreme weather. As such, he called for doubling efforts to increase food supply and stabilize food prices. In sum, action on the security-related aspects alone would be in vain unless the root causes of climate change were addressed.
ABDULLAH HUSSAIN HAROON ( Pakistan), associating with the Group of 77, considered today’s debate an important contribution to the search for solutions within the UNFCCC-led process. In a wide-ranging description of the perils of global warming, he said that conflict, and not cooperation, was fast becoming the world condition. “If we are to have any chance at disaster prevention or consequence management, we must act quickly and decisively,” he said, as coming catastrophes would exacerbate current conflicts.
Today, he said, climate change was an inescapable reality for Pakistan, which was manifesting itself with increasing ferocity. His country was among the worst victims of “climate injustice”, and dealing with the phenomenon was an imperative. Against that backdrop, climate change affected almost all sectors of the country, including water resources, energy and agricultural productivity. With that, he underlined the vital work undertaken by the UNFCCC, stressing the importance of the mandates of the United Nations principal organs and the need for the Assembly and the Economic and Social Council to retain their pre-eminence.
* *** *For information media • not an official record