Statement by Taoiseach Micheál Martin T.D. at the UN Security Council Debate on Climate and Security
Statement23 September 2021
Let me begin by expressing my thanks to the Secretary-General for his leadership on climate change and for his important statement this morning.
I also wish to thank Ms. Ilwad Elman for her testimony today, and her contribution to ensuring that the international community can understand better the insecurities climate change is creating in vulnerable communities.
Climate change is the defining challenge of our generation.
The recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change laid out, in stark terms, what is happening to our planet, and what the future may hold should we fail to act.
It is essential that we act now to prevent further warming by reaching net zero emissions as quickly as possible and we must redouble our efforts to ensure a successful outcome at COP26 in Glasgow later this year.
A concerted multilateral response to climate change involving all the organs of the United Nations is urgently needed.
That response must include this Council.
The impact of climate change is global and our collective security is at risk.
We have seen how climate change is already contributing to conflict in many parts of the world. Indeed this Council has already acknowledged this, by addressing the adverse effects of climate change in the mandates of many peacekeeping operations.
From the Sahel to Iraq, this Council has recognised that climate change is one of the factors driving conflict and fragility.
Around Lake Chad, the combination of conflict and the impact of climate change has led to violence between communities.
In the Horn of Africa, repeated droughts are undermining coping capacities among communities and disrupting livelihoods. Armed groups have been able to exploit these precarious conditions for recruitment purposes.
The need for action is clear.
80% of UN peacekeepers are deployed in countries that are the most exposed to climate change.
Our peacekeepers and civilian staff are already dealing with climate related security risks in their activities. If they are to be effective and deliver on the mandates that this Council has given to them, we must also give them the necessary supports and tools to operate in these challenging environments.
The instability which is being driven by the adverse effects of climate change is being felt across the globe; in Europe, in Africa, in Latin America and the Caribbean, in the Middle East, in South Asia and in many of the world’s Small Island Developing States.
The link between climate and instability has been recognised by the African Union, the European Union and the Pacific Islands Forum.
Sea level rise, displacement, and competition over resources are contributing to tensions.
This morning’s briefings give us a clear message.
If the Security Council is to meet its responsibility to maintain international peace and security, it must have the information and tools to analyse and address climate related security risks.
An Informal Expert Group of Members of the Security Council has convened since 2020 to support the Council’s work on climate and security. Ireland is proud to serve, together with Niger, as co-chair of this Group.
This Group provides a platform for members of the Security Council to hear how we can integrate climate related security risks into our conflict prevention, peacekeeping, conflict resolution and post-conflict stabilisation work. The Group provides data and evidence to inform future action by the Council.
Ireland is also an active member of the wider Group of Friends on climate and security. With a membership now of almost 60 countries from around the world, this further illustrates the priority placed on this issue by the UN membership.
The mandate of this Council is to consider threats to international peace and security. We must move past theoretical debates and respond to the reality that climate change is exacerbating conflict globally.
This Council can and must do more. It has the mandate and it has the tools.
A failure to use them is an abdication of our responsibility.
I know there are differing perspectives around this table. But I also believe the time has come for this Council to work together to identify how we can most appropriately integrate climate related security risks into the work we do to prevent conflict and to build peace.
We must better understand the interplay between climate change, and the country and regional situations on the Council’s agenda.
To help us do so, we should invite the Secretary-General to submit a periodic report to the Security Council on how climate change is threatening the maintenance of international peace and security.
The appointment by the Secretary General of a Special Representative for climate-related security risks could also build awareness and promote greater coherence.
These actions are just the beginning of what is necessary for the Council to begin to fulfil its obligations.
To take these proposals forward, Ireland will convene discussions on a thematic resolution on Climate and Security in the coming days. I ask today that all members of the Council engage constructively on this Resolution.
People affected by climate change-driven conflict depend on this Council for leadership.
The international community is looking to us for guidance.
By working together, in a spirit of common purpose, I hope that we can reach a shared understanding of how the Security Council can meet this challenge. Now is the moment for the Council to act.
I look forward to hearing from you all today.