“The climate emergency is a danger to peace”, Miroslav Jenca, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Europe, Central Asia and the Americas told the Security Council 18 July, as he called on peace and security actors to play their role and help speed up implementation of the landmark Paris Agreement on climate change.
Jenca briefed the Council at the start of an open video-teleconference debate on climate and security, one of the key themes of this month’s German presidency of the body.
Noting that the consequences of climate change vary from region to region, he said the fragile or conflict-affected situations around the world are more exposed to – and less able to cope with – the effects of a changing climate.
- 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 organisations.
- 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.
“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”, he said.
- “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”.
- “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”.
Jenca recommended stronger partnerships that would bring together the efforts already being made by the UN, Member States, regional organizations and others, to identify best practices, strengthen resilience and bolster regional cooperation.