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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

UN Headquarters

20 July 2011


Opening remarks at press encounter after Security Council Meeting on the Impact of Climate Change on International Peace and Security

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen,

It is good to see you again. I came back yesterday from my European trips to Finland and Geneva. In Geneva I attended the Third Global Review on Aid for Trade, and I had a bilateral meeting with President [Micheline] Calmy-Rey of Switzerland. Of course, in Finland I participated in a debate forum on sustainable development with President [Tarja] Halonen and met other officials. Those visits to the two countries were very important and constructive.

Again, as you have heard, I have just spoken to the Security Council on the subject of climate change and international peace and security.

I am grateful to Ambassador [Peter] Wittig of Germany to have organized this very important meeting dealing with the important subject of climate change.

As the effects of climate change increase, so too will the threats to international peace and security.

Extreme weather events are becoming more frequent, more intense and affecting ever more people.

The consequences include massive loss of life, human suffering and economic loss.

Mega crises are becoming the new normal.

We need to prepare better and respond better.

In particular, we need to address the destabilizing effect of food security on individuals, communities, countries and whole regions.

Today, the United Nations declared a state of famine in two regions of southern Somalia: southern Bakool and Lower Shabelle.

Across Somalia, nearly half of the population - 3.7 million people - are now in crisis.

An estimated 2.8 million of these people are in the south.

This will have an increasingly devastating effect - not just in Somalia, but on the other countries in the region.

The United Nations has been sounding the alert for months.

We need donor support to address current needs and prevent a further deterioration of the crisis.

Humanitarian agencies need urgent funding to save lives.

If funding is not made available for humanitarian interventions now, the famine is likely to continue and spread.

The overall requirement is 1.6 billion dollars for Somalia. Roughly US$300 million is needed in the next two months to provide an adequate response to famine-affected areas.

Children and adults are dying at an appalling rate. Every day of delay will cost more lives.

In the longer term, we need to work to prevent such famines and other emergencies from occurring.

This is a complex process, and is too often inseparable from the political situation on the ground.

But, there is an overarching issue - climate change and sustainable development, which is what I have been speaking about today in the Security Council.

These are the defining issues of our time.

If we do not address the fundamentals of climate change we will have more floods, famines and other disasters.

And it is only in that broader framework of sustainable development that we can address climate change, international peace and security and the needs of all our citizens.

Thank you very much.