EU Statement at UN Security Council VTC meeting on Climate and Security

Statement on behalf of the EU and its Member States by H.E. Olof Skoog, Head of Delegation, Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations

The European Union and its Member States thank the ten co-sponsoring members of the Security Council for organizing this important and timely Open Debate on Climate and Security.

The Candidate Countries the Republic of North Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Serbia*and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia, align themselves with this statement.

It is timely from a climate perspective – new figures from the World Meteorological Organisation, show that the annual mean global temperature is likely to be at least 1° Celsius above pre-industrial levels in each of the coming five years. We are approaching the crucial point of 1.5 degrees far too fast. The IPCC has clearly demonstrated in its report the devastating effects such a temperature increase will have on the livelihoods and lives of people in many regions of the world.

It is timely also in the current pandemic context – Covid19 continues to hit countries across the world with unrelenting force. Exposing and exacerbating existing vulnerabilities and compounding the impacts of climate change on food and water security, livelihoods, social cohesion and security. This threatens to undermine development gains, human rights, escalate violence and disrupt fragile peace processes.

We simply cannot afford to lose ambition on addressing the planetary crisis while fighting the pandemic. Or turn a blind eye on the consequences already materializing.  This underlines the importance of enabling the Security Council to deal more systematically and effectively with the interlinkages between climate change and security.

We have seen important progress over the last years. The analytical basis of the Security Council’s work on climate-related security risks has improved by the work of the Climate Security Mechanism in the Secretariat. The mechanism should be strengthened further as it brings the expertise from various parts of the UN system on conflict prevention and mediation, sustainable management of natural resources, climate change, resilience and gender closer together. We call for a regular and systematic report by the Secretary-General to the Security Council to expand the analytical basis and recommendations for actions, including for strengthening the ability of missions on the ground to integrate climate-related security risks into their preventive and reactive actions.  And the Security Council must continue to mainstream climate-related security risks into its consideration of country- and regional level conflicts.

Similarly, the UN Peacebuilding Architecture needs to be enabled to address climate- related risks, including those over diminishing natural resources. In this regard, the increase in water stress as a result of climate change is particularly pertinent, increasing risks of conflict and undermining peacebuilding efforts. The same goes for the security implications of sea-level rise and extreme weather events, such as floodings and droughts.

For effective, integrated responses, the peace and security, development and humanitarian pillars of the UN must work closer together at all levels in line with the nexus approach.

And we must keep a focus on the gender dimension. A recent report by UNEP, UNDP, DPPA and UN Women demonstrates the many ways in which gender inequality, climate vulnerability, and state fragility are interlinked. Countries with higher values in one of these areas tend to score higher in the other two. In his 2019 Report on Women, Peace and Security, the Secretary-General declared an “urgent need” for better analysis and concrete, immediate actions to address the linkages. It is also crucial to continue to include young people in the discussions and decision-making processes regarding climate and security. They are the ones who will be affected most by the impacts of climate change.

The EU remains strongly determined to implement our commitments under the Paris Agreement, including through EU Green Deal. We call on all partners to demonstrate the same determination on the road to CoP 26. As the world’s biggest climate donor, much of our help aims at combining adaptation to global warming and interventions to improve the sustainable management of resources with the prevention of conflict.

Two very different examples of our support: Copernicus satellite imaging is used both for instant life-saving response to extreme weather event disasters, like the recent hurricanes in the Caribbean, and as an early warning mechanism for climate impacts threatening the livelihoods and even existence of coastal communities.  The EU has also for many years supported the African-led Great Green Wall initiative aiming to restore degraded landscapes, address climate change concerns, and transform millions of lives in one of the world’s poorest regions, the Sahel.

In conclusion – the impacts of climate change, like those of Covid 19, threatens us all. Just like the pandemic, addressing climate change needs a massive global effort, shared ambition and solidarity. And we need the entire UN system to be able to deal successfully with the different dimensions of climate change. Let us work together to ensure that all parts of the UN, including the Security Council, have all they need to fulfil their tasks properly.

* The Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.