Ladies and Gentlemen.
I thank the co-organizers for convening this timely debate and Foreign Minister Heiko Maas for chairing this meeting.
Climate change impacts all of us. Record temperatures, unprecedented sea levels and frequent extreme weather events paint a dangerous future for the planet and for humanity. The environment suffers and people suffer. As lives and livelihoods are threatened, resource competition increases and communities are displaced.
The climate emergency is a danger to peace. There is no automatic link between climate change and conflict. But climate change does exacerbate existing risks and creates new ones.
And the consequences vary from region to region.
In the Pacific, the rise in sea levels places pressure on livelihoods, exacerbated by frequent extreme weather events that pose a risk to social cohesion.
In Central Asia, water stress and reduced access to natural resources and energy can contribute to regional tensions.
Across Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Latin America, climate change is expected to displace more than 140 million people within their national borders by 2050, with potentially disruptive consequences for regional stability.
In the Horn of Africa and the Middle East, the effects of climate change have deepened grievances and escalated the risk of violent conflict, providing fodder for extremist organizations.
Around the world, fragile or conflict-affected situations are more exposed and less able to cope with the effects of climate change. It is no coincidence that 7 of the 10 countries most vulnerable and least prepared to deal with climate change host a peacekeeping operation or special political mission.
Differences exist between regions, within regions, and within communities. Climate-related security risks impact women, men, girls and boys in different ways. In Sudan, climate change intersects with conflict and a legacy of exclusionary decision-making to compound resource scarcity. As a result, men often need to migrate away from their families in search of alternative livelihoods, leaving women behind in rural areas where they find themselves on the frontlines of both climate change and insecurity.
To cope with climate change, we need to act on multiple fronts. Unquestionably, we need ambitious climate action and a commitment to accelerating the implementation of the Paris Agreement.
Peace and security actors also have an essential role to play. The failure to consider the growing impacts of climate change will undermine our efforts at conflict prevention, peacemaking and sustaining peace, and risk trapping vulnerable countries in a vicious cycle of climate disaster and conflict.
In the Lake Chad Basin, insecurity and governance challenges have impeded climate adaptation efforts, affecting livelihoods, social cohesion, and ultimately human security, which Boko Haram has proven adept at exploiting.
Drawing on the evidence before us, on what we are seeing happening globally, I would like to outline some actions we can take, together, to address climate-related security risks more effectively.
First, we need to leverage new technologies and enhance our analytical capacity to translate long-term climate foresight into actionable, near-tearm analysis. The Climate Security Mechanism – a joint iniative by the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, the UN Development Programme and the UN Environment Programme – has developed guidance in this regard and supports innovative approaches in the field.
In Iraq, the United Nations Assistance Mission, supported by the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, is developing an early warning system that combines remote sensing techniques with an analysis of population density and displacement data to anticipate potential tensions over water resources.
Second, our efforts to deliver peace and security must place people at the center and learn from those who experience daily the consequences of climate change on their security. In this regard, I commend the organizers for ensuring a diversity of perspectives in today’s debate. I look forward to hearing from Ms. Coral Pasisi and Colonel Mahamadou Magagi. In our own work, we are also seeking to understand the broadest range of perspectives, such as those of practitioners and grassroots organizations from the Caribbean, the Middle East, Nepal, the Pacific and the Sahel.
Building on the power of women and youth as agents for change, we must better integrate peacebuilding, environmental and gender equality goals. In Chocó, Colombia, an interagency United Nations pilot project is promoting the engagement of women in environmental governance and natural resource management within the context of the implementation of the Final Peace Accord, with positive effects on local-level peacebuilding.
Third, we need to strengthen multi-dimensional partnerships and connect the work of the United Nations, Member States, regional organizations and others in this area.
The Regional Stabilization, Recovery and Resilience Strategy for Areas Affected by Boko Haram in the Lake Chad Basin, led by the African Union and the Lake Chad Basin Commission, demonstrates the potential of inclusive, climate and security-informed approaches and shows a path towards stability.
The UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel and the Economic Community of West African States have established a joint coordination mechanism on climate-related security risks, which inter alia seeks to identify good practices for the prevention of transhumance-related violence in the region.
In the Pacific, the United Nations is continuing its close engagement with the Pacific Islands Forum to support implementation of the Boe Declaration and help strengthen the resilience of States and communities to address the unique challenges faced by atoll nations.
And in Central Asia, the United Nations Regional Center for Preventive Diplomacy supports the Green Central Asia Initiative, launched by Germany, to create an environment conducive to regional cooperation on trans-boundary water and climate change.
These tailored, region-specific examples can provide valuable insights and lessons for other partnerships to follow. We are strongly committed to such collaboration.
In recent years we have made considerable progress in our understanding of the linkages between climate change, peace and security. But climate change is relentless and its cascading effects will continue to grow and evolve.
We must remain vigilant and summon the courage to adapt our established approaches to ensure they are fit for a climate-changed world.
And above all, we must translate words into action. As the Secretary-General has emphasized, the pandemic recovery offers an opportunity to strengthen resilience and promote climate justice.
I am encouraged by today’s debate as another important step in the right direction and thank the organizers again for convening this meeting.