Statement by Minister for Foreign Affairs Margot Wallström at the UN Security Council Debate on Climate-Related Security Risks

National statement by Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden Margot Wallström, on behalf of Sweden, at the United Nations Security Council Debate on Climate-Related Security Risks, 11 July 2018, New York.

Madam Deputy-Secretary-General, Ministers, Distinguished colleagues,

I am honored to chair today's debate on climate related security risks. I am a bit taken by the previous speaker, and I really thank the briefers for their statements this morning. Their testimonies, although from different perspectives, say one thing: the security risks associated with climate change are real. Minister Janabi has told of how Iraq is grappling with harsh weather conditions and intense droughts that will affect the country's fragile security. Hindu Oumarou Ibrahim has vividly described the challenges facing pastoralists in the Lake Chad Basin as ecosystems, and with them also old power-structures, shift.

Let me also thank the speakers representing groups of affected countries who will share their experience with us. A special thank you to His Excellency President Baron Waqa of Nauru, for being here today.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Last week, I met with these women and men who are dealing first-hand with the everyday consequences that a changing climate is having on peace and security. They are migrants and refugees displaced as a result of drought or floods. They are the breadwinners no longer able to feed their families because, much like Lake Chad itself, their traditional fishing or farming livelihoods have evaporated, giving rise to tensions.

They are women leaders working in their communities to prevent youth from becoming victims of radicalization by groups that prey on the vulnerable. They do not have a choice to ignore these realities; neither do we.

And, the link between climate and security continues to be a priority for Sweden on this Council.

It is time for the Security Council to catch up with the changing reality on the ground. It's been seven years since we last debated climate and security.

And, it is past time for us to deepen our understanding of how climate change interacts with drivers of conflict. I will be practical. I believe there are four areas that needs to be addressed:

Firstly, in order to properly address threats to peace and security, and to guarantee the Council's future efficiency, we need a
better understanding of climate related security risks. We have made an important start over the last 18 months, by recognizing the adverse effects of climate change on stability in the Lake Chad Basin, West Africa and the Sahel.

Secondly, we need improved tools, analysis and reporting from the field to better address climate-related security challenges. The PRST on climate and security adopted seven years ago, asked for better reporting. However, that knowledge and information gap continues to exist, and urgently needs to be filled.

To be able to make informed decisions on how best to respond to the conflicts on our agenda, we must have all the information on what is driving them. This includes how a changing climate is contributing to these conflicts. Climate risk assessments should be part and parcel of relevant reporting to the Security Council. How climate risks interact with social, political, and economic factors as well as gender dimensions should be taken into account.

It is clear that climate risk has the potential to play an ever-increasing role in driving future conflicts. We need to invest in early warning in order to better understand where these potential vulnerabilities lie. To this end, we would welcome regular forward looking regional and global reporting from the Secretariat on climate related security risks.

Thirdly, to deliver on all of this, an institutional home for these issues within the UN system is needed, we hope that Amina Mohammed might be the mother of this home, maybe under the leadership also of a special representative, with responsibility for bringing together information from all relevant UN agencies. Reporting and analysis should also draw on available research from outside the UN system, maybe through a network of universities and research institutes.

To this end, I am pleased to announce the launch of a Stockholm-based knowledge hub for Climate Security later this summer. This hub will increase collective understanding of these issues and will be available to the UN and other actors by providing evidence-based analysis.

An enhanced understanding of climate-related security risks and how to address them in the Security Council should not and will not duplicate responsibilities of the General Assembly or other UN bodies. Instead, it will ensure all UN bodies deliver on their respective mandates to the best of their ability – and that the system collectively delivers on more than the sum of its parts.

Fourthly, and lastly, in framing our response, we need to look to the countries on the front line, and learn from their experience and also from good practices.

For example:

Nepal and Sudan, with UN support, are taking steps to address climate related risks through pilot projects that map climate related security risks, with the aim of identifying resilience building interventions and programming.

The Lake Chad Basin Governors' Forum established this year to enhance joint efforts towards building peace and fostering sustainable development across the region, has confirmed the importance of applying a holistic approach to complex and interlinked security challenges including climate change.

Led by the African Union Commission, the Great Green Wall for the Sahara and Sahel initiative is a truly integrated project for climate, security and peace which aims to halt desertification, boost food security and resilience to climate change, whilst creating jobs. This is conflict prevention and sustaining peace in practice.

We must capitalize on this knowledge on the ground and integrate it in our efforts to end conflict and sustain peace.

Regional organizations, such as the AU and the EU, as well as within the Pacific Small Island Developing States, the Alliance of Small Island States, and CARICOM, are already providing momentum to the international response to climate related security risks.

It is now imperative that the United Nations catches up, and takes the lead in facilitating and coordinating global efforts, working with regional partners and other stakeholders.

The Secretary-General's Climate Summit in September 2019 represents a pivotal moment to make progress on this issue. The concrete steps I have mentioned today should work towards guaranteeing that climate-related security risks are on the agenda at this summit.

Dear colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Finally, the threat that a changing climate presents to our societies and to international peace and security cannot be underestimated. It has already created a new reality for the communities I met in the Sahel. To realistically and meaningfully respond to their needs; to address the conflicts of today; to meet the calls from Hindou and others; and to prevent the conflicts of tomorrow, we too can no longer afford to ignore this threat.

Thank you.

Contact

Lisa Laskaridis
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