Climate & Security: to anticipate, prevent and limit the effects [fr]
Addressing the impacts of climate-related disasters on international peace
Statement by Mrs. Anne Gueguen, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations, chargée d’affaires a.i.
Security Council – 25 January 2019
I commend the Dominican presidency for organizing this open debate. Your country, Mr. President, is on the front lines of tackling climate change and you have rightly made that issue a priority of your presidency. I also thank our briefers for the excellent quality of their statements. The mobilization of young people presented by Ms. Getschel is an important glimmer of hope, and we must not let that hope be lost.
The level of participation in this open debate demonstrates, if there were ever a need, a broad awareness among Member States that the impacts of climate change on international peace and security must be better understood by the United Nations and more specifically by the Security Council. The consequences of climate change on security is considerable. The impacts of climate disasters on humanitarian aspects, on food and health security, and more generally on the economic, demographic and social balances of a human community can be such that they contribute to domestic crises, which in turn may lead to regional and international crises or exacerbate existing conflicts.
Risks know no borders. We therefore share the responsibility of managing them collectively. The Paris Agreement on Climate Change shows us the way by limiting global warming to 2°C, if possible 1.5°C, and calls on us to increase our adaptability and resilience to climate change, especially in the most vulnerable countries, and make financial flows compatible with limiting the global increase in temperature. The Paris Agreement now has implementing guidelines, and I commend the role played by the Polish presidency of the twenty-fourth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
We must endeavour to achieve our goals collectively. The climate summit scheduled for 23 September comes at the right time to create the conditions for achieving our heightened aspirations. France will play an important role in that regard, since, together with Jamaica, it has been entrusted with the task of working on climate finance and funding. I am sure that the summit will send a strong message to the Council, which must address the risks that the effects of climate change represent for our common peace and security. We must take action to anticipate, prevent and limit those effects. In this context, I would like to share three of France’s firm beliefs.
The first is that the risks to international security posed by the impacts of climate change must become a central element of the conflict prevention agenda. We must develop preventive diplomacy that integrates all destabilizing factors, including those related to climate change and the collapse of biodiversity. The second is that a rigorous and regular analysis of these risks is necessary and in the international public interest. The United Nations, and within it the Security Council and the Secretary-General, must play a pivotal role in this regard. The third belief is that this risk analysis must be accompanied by preventive measures that will be implemented by national Governments, regional organizations, development partners and United Nations agencies. Bolstered by those beliefs, France would like to work with all Member States on several proposals it has shared, including two main ones.
The first proposal aims to provide us with a tool for collective analysis and early warning of the impacts of climate change on global peace and security. Data and analysis tools exist, but they are scattered in think tanks, among States and even within the United Nations among its various agencies. We must bring them together in a central place and give them a voice. What is missing is a guardian — a guarantor of the scientific message that can build consensus on the links between climate and security. France would like to see the Secretary-General play this role by submitting an annual report to the General Assembly and the Security Council that assesses the risks to peace and security posed by the impacts of climate change in all regions of the world and within different timeframes.
It is also important to fully implement the request put forward by the Council in its presidential statement S/PRST/2011/15, of July 2011, adopted upon Germany’s initiative, that the reports of the Secretary-General on the conflicts on the Council’s agenda include contextual information with regard to the impact of climate change on those conflicts. In this way, we could anticipate and implement appropriate responses to the threats to peace and security that already exist in some regions, such as the Sahel or island States, but also, in southern Africa, Central America or South-East Asia, which may be less immediate but could in due course have an equally disastrous impact on security. At the national level, France has initiated research programmes to develop a typology of crises for the most vulnerable regions, in particular in the Mediterranean and Pacific areas. This work could feed into the Secretary-General’s report.
The second proposal by France concerns the role of the United Nations in developing recommendations for concrete actions to prevent conflicts. Faced with these risks for security, we must mobilize a wide range of tools, from emergency aid to development policies. In some cases, such as after an extreme weather event, humanitarian measures will be urgently needed. In other cases, it will be necessary to help communities adapt to the inescapable rise in sea levels, drought and soil degradation. Sometimes, it will be necessary to give small farmers insurance mechanisms that will enable them to restart economic activity quickly after a climate disaster rather than having to migrate to other areas. The United Nations can and should play an important role in developing these recommendations and in coordinating the efforts that will need to be implemented.
At the national level, donor countries such as France must adapt their development policies. In this regard, France has initiated several projects, including the Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems initiative — with the World Meteorological Organization, the Global Facility for Disaster Risk Reduction and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction — that seeks to strengthen the capacity of early warning systems in least developed countries and small island developing States to deal with extreme climate events. At this stage, nearly €40 million out of €100 have already been disbursed, making it possible to finance five national projects, three regional multi-country projects in the Caribbean, West Africa and the Pacific, as well as a post-disaster study in the Caribbean.
Faced with these certain risks, we cannot take refuge in denial or misinformation. We can anticipate and respond to these risks and prevent conflicts. That is the role of the United Nations and the role of the Council. France is committed to working tirelessly with all at this table to make this goal a reality in the coming months.