Statement by Prime Minister Ms. Kaja Kallas at UN Security Council VTC meeting on Climate and Security

Mr President, Secretary-General, distinguished briefers, dear colleagues,

Let me start by thanking the United Kingdom for convening this meeting at such a high level. I hope that the world does not need any more convincing that climate change poses a real threat, including to our shared security. But the world surely needs leaders to shape concrete actions, plans and targets and carry them through in order to fight the climate change.

We warmly welcome the United States back to the Paris climate agreement and stand ready to co-operate in every possible way in this field.

I am proud to say that the European Union is leading the way. Our commitment to reaching climate neutrality by 2050 will soon be written into law and our every step will be geared towards meeting this goal. By 2050 we aim to achieve climate neutrality as a national target as well.

Although critically important, this was not an easy decision to make. Not least for Estonia, where energy production has traditionally relied on our national resource, oil shale – a fossil fuel. However, my government is firmly committed to contributing to global efforts. We have established a clear timeline for phasing out oil shale by 2040.

The overlap between climate and security challenges was made painfully clear during a public discussion of this Council last July. Seven out of the 10 countries most vulnerable and least prepared to deal with climate change host a UN peacekeeping operation or a special political mission. The Member States of the UN Security Council cannot ignore this nexus between climate and security any longer. Today, the German Foreign Minister will present proposals by like-minded countries for the way forward in the UN Security Council. We fully support his message.

We need to acknowledge that the climate emergency can pose a danger to peace. And we must make it a part of our security policy planning and discussions here. This Council must do more to fully understand climate-related security risks and integrate this knowledge into all aspects of its work. The Secretary-General of the United Nations needs to receive a mandate to collect data and coordinate policy to this aim.

As always, we must not lose sight of the most vulnerable. We know how women and children suffer in conflicts. But research confirms that women and girls are also disproportionately affected by climate change. We must help empower women. We must direct resources to local women’s groups at the frontlines of climate change. We must recognise that women have an equal right to access, use and control land and resources. This is the way to build resilient communities not only for women but for everyone.

Estonia has chosen to co-operate with some small islands and least developed countries in green technology solutions and know-how transfer. We have supported adaptation and emergency communication systems in the Pacific region, drinking water monitoring systems in the Grenada island river basin and the development of solar energy solutions for rural areas in Myanmar. But in addition to individual projects, we need joint actions at a global level.

The COVID-19 crisis has taught us that emergencies do not respect borders. However, borders are quick to close, even for data. For an effective policy, we need more than just correct data. We also need to be able to share it and use it. This means that data needs to be globally comparable, accessible and interoperable. And we need political leadership.

That is why Estonia has recently launched a new cooperation initiative. We are proposing the Data for the Environment Alliance – the DEAL. The DEAL will be a coalition of state and non-state actors who will support the United Nations Environment Programme in developing a global environmental data strategy by 2025. It also aims to improve national data management capacities across the globe. I hope that everybody, including this Council, can see the value of high standard modern data management. I thank all of you who have already shown interest.

Dear colleagues,

There is no doubt that climate change is making the world a more dangerous place. Who else than the UN Security Council needs to pay due attention to this and build momentum before COP26. Thank you!