Following the presentation of a ‘roadmap to the UN Climate Summit’ by General Assembly President Maria Espinosa, we present an outline of key dates and events for the climate-security nexus, in what has the potential to be a ‘tipping point’ year for the agenda. (Updated 18.04.19)
A High-Level Meeting on Climate and Sustainable Development for All, mandated by the UN General Assembly, will be held in New York. The event will take a broad and intergenerational approach to climate action, allowing for dialogue and pledges between present and future generations. It will also highlight the interlinkages between climate and economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.
March and April
France and Germany respectively take on the Presidency of the UN Security Council. For the first time in the UNSC’s history, the presidencies will be linked; both nations have listed climate among their priorities. Foreign Ministers Jean-Yves Le Drian and Heiko Maas, asking “Who, if not us?” as they announced their shared goals at the start of the Munich Security Conference, will aim to strengthen multilateralism and the rules-based world order. At January’s UNSC debate on climate-related disasters convened by the Dominican Republic presidency, Maas in particular was unequivocal on its role on climate change:
“The Arctic is an early warning system for climate change. The Security Council must become an early warning system for international policy. This is our shared responsibility.”
The Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) will take place in Geneva, Switzerland. UN Special Representative Mami Mizutori said the event is “an opportunity for us to come together to renew and accelerate our efforts to implement the Sendai Framework”. The importance of DRR as an underutilized ‘solution’ to the climate security challenge was recognised at the Planetary Security Conference, during a workshop convened by Katie Peters of the Overseas Development Institute.
The 2019 Pacific Environmental Security Forum (PESF) is scheduled for 21-24 May 2019 in Wellington, New Zealand. U.S. Indo-Pacific Command and the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade will co-sponsor the event. The theme for the 2019 PESF is "Building Resilience in the Pacific," and topics such as climate migration, biosecurity, resource protection, regional environmental security solutions, and environmental security transformation will be discussed
4 June 2019
Germany will host a high-level ‘Conference on Climate and Security’ in Berlin. It came as a strong statement of intent as the link between climate change and security policy is stated as the top priority for Germany’s two-year term (2019-2020) as a UNSC elected member. This builds on the UN Group of Friends on Climate and Security it established with Nauru in August 2018 (and on the previous efforts of Sweden, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, the UK, Ukraine and Caribbean Small Island Developing States). Maas stated in his speech that this group and the international network of experts that supports it will table proposals for the Security Council and the Secretariat. The commitments to further UNSC action in this area, expressed by numerous representatives at January’s debate, indicate that these proposals could receive broad and enthusiastic support.
30 June – 1 July
The UAE will host a stocktaking meeting in Abu Dhabi in preparation for the UN Climate Summit in September. The meeting will review the reports of nine coalitions of governments set up to deliver “transformative outcomes”, in order to identify the actions and partnerships that can be presented at the Summit.
The High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development will convene under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council, to review in-depth the progress of six Sustainable Development Goals, among them Inequalities (SDG10), Climate Action (SDG13) and Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions (SDG16). As the SIPRI Making it #Doable report argued in advance of the Planetary Security Conference, the HLPF presents “a unique opportunity to understand the interconnected nature of these three SDGs and set long-term goals integrating climate-related security risks.”
The Forum also offers a chance for the Climate Security Mechanism, established in November last year by UN Development Programme, the Department for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and the UN Environment Programme, to build momentum and develop capacity. Ulrika Modéer, Assistant Administrator at UNDP, recently outlined the reasons and prospects for her organisation’s focus on climate-related security risks.. “If both HLPF and Summit are successful,” notes the Making it #Doable report prepared for PSC2019 by SIPRI, “they will likely result in a wealth of further tasks assigned to the Climate Security Mechanism for late 2019 and into 2020.”
The UN Climate Summit will be held in New York as part of the 74th Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 74). World leaders will gather together with civil society and the private sector under the tagline ‘A race we can win’. The event builds on the Paris Agreement of 2015 and subsequent steps, with a focus on “the sectors that create the most emissions and the areas where building resilience will make the biggest difference: heavy industry, nature-based solutions, cities, energy, resilience, and climate finance.” Luis Alfonso de Alba of Mexico has been announced as the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy to the summit.
Of particular importance to the multidisciplinary community engaged in efforts at the nexus of climate and security is the action portfolio on resilience and adaptation, which seeks to advance “global efforts to address and manage the impacts and risks of climate change, particularly in those communities and nations most vulnerable.” To be successful this portfolio will need to involve the type of collaboration between development, diplomatic and security personnel that has been fundamental to the Planetary Security Initiative. Many of these stakeholders, not least the newly established International Military Council on Climate and Security, will work over the course of this year to ensure that the lessons learnt and agenda established in this field forms a critical part of the resilience and adaptation conversation.
The week’s activities at UNGA 74 will also feature another meeting of the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (24-25 September), a High-Level Dialogue on Financing for Development (26 September), and a High-level Review of Progress on the SAMOA Pathway (SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action).
The First International Conference on Environmental Peacebuilding will take place at the University of California, Irvine. It will examine the links between environment, conflict and peace with two special themes – technology and innovation, and Colombia – among several others, including environmental peacebuilding in a changing climate.
The Green Climate Fund will hold its first pledging replenishment conference, following pledges of $10.2 billion for the initial 2015-2018 period. A number of new ‘Communities of Practice’ – including adaptation planning, agriculture and food security and climate information and early warning – will bring together global expertise from renowned organisations to support the Fund’s mandate. Consultation meetings will take place on 4-5 April and in August.
In the same month the Global Commission on Adaptation will kick off a Year of Action including expected tracks on cities, social protection and food security and rural livelihoods. This will follow the publication of a flagship research report due in September 2019.
COP25 will take place in Santiago, Chile, marking the year’s final coming together of world leaders in efforts to galvanise and accelerate climate action in synergy with just development. As UN President Maria Espinosa concluded in her presentation of the year ahead, “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you wish to go far, go together.”
Making it #Doable argued that of the many big moments in this critical year, it is the UN Climate Summit above all that “provides an opportunity for the climate security community gathered within the PSI network to contribute by making a case, based on planetary security, for decisive climate action, and with practical suggestions on mitigating climate-related security risks.” Our progress monitor shows that the Planetary Security Initiative has already become a hub and launch pad for the global scale-up of #doable action. This sequence of increasingly ambitious events on the near horizon show that this will be another busy year.