On Friday 25th January 2019, the UN Security Council will hold an open debate addressing the impacts of climate-related disasters on international peace and security (at 4pm CET and 10am EST). President Danilo Medina of the Dominican Republic will chair the meeting, which will also include the participation of several member states at ministerial level.
Speakers to be confirmed are the Under-Secretary-General and Administrator of UNDP, Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Rosemary A. DiCarlo, and the chief scientist and research director of WMO, Pavel Kabat. The debate is due to be streamed live on UN Web TV.
It is almost 12 years since the Council first considered the impact of climate change on peace and security, with pressure mounting particularly in recent years for more substantive action. Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in particular have been at the forefront of this effort to find an institutional home for climate security in the UN, as detailed in the ‘Fighting an existential threat’ briefing published by the PSI last year.
Most recently the call for a Special Representative on Climate and Security was repeated by Nauru’s President at the Council in July 2018. The issue was also discussed in December at the PSI Regional Consultation in Aruba, convened to develop a Plan of Action for the Caribbean Region. This plan will be presented during the Planetary Security Conference 2019 in several sessions, and discussed during a workshop on climate-security risks in the Caribbean region convened by Shiloh Fetzek of The Center for Climate and Security, with Prime Minister H.E. Leona Marlin-Romeo of Sint Maarten among the speakers.
The Planetary Security Conference 2019 will also feature an interactive workshop on a new UN climate security institutional mechanism, convened by Malin Mobjörk of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) and Martin Ras of the UN Development Program (UNDP).
The key issues to be discussed during this Friday’s Council debate are:
- the need to enhance understanding about the security implications of climate change-related natural disasters;
- the need for member states to develop improved risk assessment and mitigation strategies for such disasters;
- the importance of developing the analytical capacities of the UN system to assess climate change-related security threats, provide the Security Council with useful information about these threats, and support states in developing and implementing actionable plans to address them;
- the importance of developing synergies among states, regional and sub-regional organisations, and the UN system in managing and mitigating climate change-related security risks; and
- the need to determine how the Security Council, the peace operations it mandates, and UN Country Teams can best collaborate to address such risks.
As the independent news site Security Council Report notes in a preview of the debate, “the Council currently focuses on the symptoms of climate change but does not address its underlying causes … It seems important for members to consider whether the Council could usefully and appropriately take other precise steps in tackling climate-related risks to peace and security, in addition to calling for enhanced reporting and for better risk assessment and mitigation strategies.”