António Guterres told the UN Security Council on 23 September that conflicts may arise as climate changes affect access to clean water throughout the globe.
Ahead of COP26 to be held in Glasgow in November and calling on G20 countries to take the lead, the Portuguese Secretary-General painted a grim portrait of the water access throughout the globe.
He said: “In the Middle East and North Africa, which are among the world’s most water-stressed and climate‑vulnerable regions, a major decline in precipitation and a rise in extreme weather events is harming water and food security.”.
Pointing out the COVID-19 pandemic as a factor that has hindered governments’ ability to act, Guterres highlighted some crucial priorities.
The first item is to cap global warming at 1.5°C, which means a 45 Percent reduction of global emissions by 2030.
He then called out for developed countries to pledge to $100 Billion USD to go towards developing countries’ efforts to adapt to current and future impacts of climate change. He said: “We simply cannot achieve our shared climate goals — nor achieve hope for lasting peace and security — if resilience and adaptation continue to be the forgotten half of the climate equation.”.
Thirdly, Guterres pointed out the importance of interconnecting climate adaptation and peacebuilding, stressing that improving access to water, in particular, can be a factor contributing to peace: “And as climate change is impacting water resources worldwide, we must leverage water for peace, drawing lessons from the past.”.
Lastly, the Secretary-General mentioned the important role to be played by women in leadership positions as they also face severe risks from climate change and conflicts.