In the face of climate change, we must move forward [fr]
Risks related to climate change for international peace and security
Statement of Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - Security Council - 11 July 2018
At the outset I would like to thank you, Madam President, for taking the initiative to convene this Council debate on the problem of climate change and its consequences for international peace and security. It is a critical issue to which we must pay all the attention it deserves.
I would also like to thank the Deputy Secretary-General, Ms. Amina Mohammed, for her important presentation, as well as for her commitment and her efforts in the fight against climate change. I also warmly thank the Minister of Water Resources of Iraq, Mr. Hassan Janabi, and Ms. Hindou Ibrahim for their very enlightening and inspiring statements.
Not a day goes by without an increasing number of us falling victim to the consequences of climate change and environmental degradation. While extreme climate events are often the most visible, other phenomena with less immediate effects — such as droughts, the salinization of soils and rising water levels — contribute to land degradation, coastal erosion and the depletion of water resources. Those negative impacts on natural resources, in the context of vulnerable populations and economies, can generate or re-ignite conflicts between communities, provoke population displacement and jeopardize international peace and security.
The eloquent statements we have heard this morning are a stark reminder that the impacts of climate change are imultiplying the risks to international stability. That is already the tough reality in many parts of the world, from the Sahel to the Middle East. Yet it also constitutes a threat to many other regions that are stable today but which will suffer the impacts of climate change tomorrow, affecting the stability of our countries and our societies in ways we could not have prevented.
In this context, I would like to share five main messages with the Council this morning:
My first message is a call to action. As our speakers emphasized, the threat of climate change to international peace and security is an objective fact that we cannot deny. Its effects are already being painfully felt and they will go on automatically increasing. From now on, we cannot turn a blind eye. It is our collective responsibility to tackle this existential challenge head-on and use all the tools at our disposal to address it. It is urgent, because every day lost makes the threat worse.
My second message has to do with the institutional debate that often resurfaces in our statements on the subject. Considering the urgency and importance of these challenges, we must rise above institutional arguments. The General Assembly and the Security Council must speak out on this threat to international peace and security, which concerns us all. However, I want to reassure everyone that the fact we are discussing the effects of climate change on international security here in the Council in no way undermines the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) or the Paris Climate Change Agreement, which remain the multilateral frame of reference for the fight against climate change. In that regard, I would like to remind all concerned that our priority is ratifying the Paris Agreement and that we will have to collectively adopt rules for implementing it in December, under the Polish presidency of the twenty-fourth Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC. That is an essential condition for maintaining the positive momentum launched in Paris in 2015 in the fight against climate change and for ensuring that every country implements ambitious climate policies, as many countries, including China, for instance, have already done.
That is how we will be able to fulfil our collective commitment to keep the rise in the average temperature below 2 degrees Celsius and, if possible, 1.5 degrees.
But the fact is that when we speak of the effects of climate change on international peace and security — and this is my third message — we are engaging in the process of conflict prevention. Here in New York, the international community must take ownership of the matter and decide to cooperate in dealing with the impact on international peace and security produced by the effects of climate change and establish genuine preventive diplomacy to do that. In that regard, I want to voice our strong support for the Secretary-General’s vision and ambition regarding conflict prevention and the peace continuum, which must comprehend all destabilizing factors, including those related to the effects of climate change and the collapse of biodiversity.
My fourth message concerns the ways in which we can ensure that the United Nations has a robust analytical capacity in this area. In that regard, we welcome the progress that the Council has made in the past few months in recognizing the adverse effects of climate change in various regions such as the Lake Chad basin, Somalia and Mali, as well as in calling for better assessment and management of climate change and ecological risks. Those advances should now be translated into concrete action. That demands that the United Nations develop its capacity to analyse risks in order to warn us about the security risks related to climate change in every region of the world. The Deputy Secretary-General has reminded us of the remarkable initiatives that she has undertaken with the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel, and France fully supports and actively endorses those crucial major efforts. What we want to do is to expand that approach to other regions of the world. It will now also be necessary to take a next step and recommend measures and actions to be implemented by national Governments, United Nations agencies and regional organizations to both prevent the adverse effects of climate change on security and protect and restore biodiversity.
Finally, my fifth message is that the entire United Nations system must mobilize to tackle the challenges related to the security implications of climate change. The Secretariat, the General Assembly and the Security Council have a shared responsibility in that regard. They must rely on all of the specialized agencies and institutions dealing with the environment, together with the United Nations Environment Programme; they must work on climate with the UNFCCC, the World Meteorological Organization and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; on agriculture with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and on desertification with the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in order to come up with appropriate analyses, propose courses of action and implement them on the ground.
In conclusion, I would like to assure you, Madam President, of France’s resolute commitment to working alongside you to build a multilateral, twenty-first-century diplomacy that fully integrates the effects of climate change into its approach to conflict prevention.
In the face of the reality of climate change, one of the greatest challenges of our time, we must move forward together and with our eyes wide open.