EU Statement – United Nations Security Council: Open Debate on Climate and Security

New York

23 September 2021, New York - Statement on behalf of the European Union and its Member States by H.E. Mr. Olof Skoog, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations, at the Security Council Open Debate on the Maintenance of International Peace and Security: Climate and Security

Madam President,

I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.

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 the Republic of Moldova and Georgia, align themselves with this statement.


We thank the Irish Presidency for organizing this important and timely Open Debate on Climate and Security.

The EU was one of the first to identify climate change as a security issue. For more than a decade, we have considered climate change and environmental degradation an existential threat multiplier that needs to be put at the heart of EU security policy and the global agenda.


A world beyond 2°C can hardly be a secure one. As the IPCC report states, already at 2°C  of  global  warming,  heat  extremes  would  more  often  reach  critical  tolerance thresholds for health and agriculture, contributing to both food and human insecurity.


The more intense rainfall and flooding, and the more intense drought that the IPCC report predicts, will accelerate and deepen ongoing or latent vulnerabilities and instability. These developments could become new conflict drivers, in particular in areas where they are coupled with demographic challenges, where there will be heightened competition over scare natural resources, and where food systems will be disrupted.


Those developments will have severe consequences on the climate and security nexus with representing different types of challenges to human and state security and undermining global peace. This underlines the importance of enabling the Security Council to deal more comprehensively with the interlinkages between climate change and security.


In the Sahel we already see how impact of climate change can undermine security and aggravate conflict. In the Lake Chad region, fluctuating water levels caused by climate change are contributing to serious water scarcity, food insecurity and resources competition fueling grievances and heightening levels of instability, conflict and terrorism influence in the region. In Central Asia, climate change has been identified as a potential exacerbating factor of conflict influencing water flows into and around the Aral Sea. And as final examples, in Iraq and Afghanistan, rising temperatures and extreme weather are putting pressure on natural resources and undermining livelihood causing tensions, displacement and opening up opportunities for illegal trade and terrorism.


The Security Council has recognised the climate and security risks and has mainstreamed the adverse impacts of climate change into country and regional peacekeeping mandates in the Lake Chad Basin, Somalia, Mali, Darfur, Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, Cyprus and Iraq. The EU warmly welcomes such inclusions and believes that this should be done on a more structured and systematic basis.


On the EU side, under the European Green Deal we will strive to ensure our own climate resilience in a shifting geopolitical security landscape. EU and Member States foreign and security policy will systematically consider climate and environmental factors and risks, and will work with partners, including the UN, to develop conflict prevention measures, such as early warning systems and support relevant international instruments, such as the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.


In the framework of the EU-UN partnership crisis management and peace operations, the nexus between security and climate change and environmental degradation will be addressed as part of the next set of joint EU-UN priorities for 2022-2024 to be adopted by the end of the year. Together, we are planning to foster strategic foresight and situational awareness to better anticipate, prevent and prepare for the effects of climate change and environmental degradation on the security environment, as well as to reduce the footprint of our missions and operations.


The UN Security Council should continue working on climate and security, building upon previous debates and the Climate Security Mechanism, towards the recognition of the link between climate change and security. It should aim to go beyond the holding of thematic debates to systematically integrating climate related security issues, where appropriate, in its resolutions, and (re)consider the passing of a resolution on climate change and security (as first initiated by Germany in 2020 and a likeminded group encompassing Belgium, Estonia and France, among others). Towards this end, we reiterate the need to work with the informal expert group of UN Security Council Member States on Climate and Security, which Ireland is co-chairing in 2021.


Also in its capacity as a member of the Group of Friends on Climate and Security, the EU wishes to stress the importance of building capacity in the UN system to address climate related security risks.


Finally, let us not forget the broader environmental dimension of the issue, with climate change often exacerbating environmental degradation, water scarcity or desertification. This is particularly relevant for Least Developed Countries, many of them in Africa, Small Island Developing States, Landlocked Developing States, and for other regions such as the Mediterranean.


In closing, the European Union and its Member States express readiness to contribute further to this important topic.


I thank you, Madam President.