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Statement at UNSC Open Debate on Climate and Security in Africa

Thank you Mr. President and thank you to Gabon for convening this very important debate in the Council. We believe that it is very important that the Council continues to progress its work on climate and security. Thank you also to the briefers Martha, Tanguy and Patrick for your very valuable insights.

Mr. President, climate change is one of the defining challenges of our time. Its consequences are severe, multifaceted and global. And we share the view of our Kenyan colleague that history will judge this Council harshly if we fail to address this issue.

We are not asking for the Security Council to address or tackle climate change, which we believe should rightly be addressed through the UNFCCC. We do, however, believe the Council should analyse and understand the effects of climate change on peace and security.

At COP27 in Egypt, Member States must increase their ambitions to urgently deliver on the Paris Agreement. We must make progress on commitments made at COP26 on Climate Finance, and on Loss and Damage. We must work to help those the least prepared to face damaging climate change effects.  

The impacts of climate change threaten lives and livelihoods, drive displacement, and contribute to conflict and insecurity. This disproportionately impacts women and girls, people living with disabilities, and marginalised groups.

And African countries continue to bear the disproportionate consequences.

Across the continent – from the Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin, to the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes Region – the impacts of climate change have increased competition over scarce resources.

They have heightened risks and tensions, and contribute to conflict and fragility in regions where people are already in humanitarian need and have very limited capacity to cope.

Climate change is an exacerbating factor in armed conflict. Non-state armed groups and terrorist organisations have exploited those in vulnerable and precarious conditions for recruitment purposes.

Climate change is also increasingly recognised as the most consequential threat multiplier for women and girls.

The need for action is clear, and the time to act is now. 

Both the European Union and the African Union have recognised the link between climate change and instability. And despite our failure to adopt a much needed resolution on the issue last year, the Security Council has increasingly incorporated climate-related security risks into its peacekeeping mandates.

But we believe more can be done to build climate-resilient systems that support peace and stability.

While we were naturally disappointed with the outcome of December’s vote on the resolution on climate and security, it is clear that there is huge support for this agenda from all across the UN.

Yesterday, in Berlin, Ireland joined a number of countries, including some around this table, in launching the Climate 4 Peace Initiative.

Ireland remains determined to advance this work. We will do that with other ambitious countries and those affected by the climate crisis, during our Council term and beyond.

The Informal Expert Group on Climate and Security allows Council members to discuss the research and evidence on climate-related security risks, which in turn informs the Council’s work. Ireland served, with Niger, as co-chair of this Group in 2021, and we fully support Kenya and Norway’s leadership this year.

Ireland is supporting the placement of a Climate Security Advisor in the UN Mission in South Sudan through the Climate Security Mechanism (CSM). This mechanism’s efforts to integrate climate and security analysis and action into the work of the UN system is essential. This can help communities to deal with the impacts of climate change, reduce risks, and promote peace and inclusion. 

In Dakar in April, alongside Ghana, UNOWAS and ECOWAS, Ireland co-hosted the Regional Conference on Climate Change, Peace and Security in West Africa and the Sahel

That conference’s “Call to Action” recognises the threat that climate change poses to the peace and stability of the region.  It calls for support to countries that wish to address climate-related security risks.

Mr. President, the international community is starting to realise that the need to address the climate crisis is urgent. We are grappling with its impacts, on people, on communities, in every region and in every country. Our responses must be comprehensive while being responsive to particular contexts.

 We believe therefore that today’s debate can contribute to this, if it can build momentum toward deeper and meaningful integration of climate-related security risks in the work of the Security Council.

Thank you.

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