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Agenda 2021: Prospects for Climate Security and Other Strategic Risks at the UN Security Council

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By Evan Barnard, Center for Climate and Security intern, with contributions from Andrea Rezzonico and William Beaver

The 2021 United Nations Security Council (UNSC) agenda promises to take on a range of issues central to the Council on Strategic Risks mission. This blog post provides recommendations for action by the UNSC, as well as an overview of the key topics we expect to see on the agenda. Key recommendations for the UNSC include:

  • Climate: Establish a robust institutional home for climate and security at the UN – a Climate Security Crisis Watch Center.
  • Bio: Invest in next-generation genome sequencing to guard against infectious diseases and biological warfare.
  • Nukes: Aim to reduce nuclear weapon arsenals and increase openness for negotiation between nuclear nations.
  • Intersection of risks: Rather than separating these risk factors into silos, consider their global security implications jointly over a range of timescales.
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VIDEO: Is Russia overturning the global order? Maybe. It’s complicated.

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By Andrea Rezzonico 

In the third video of its new series on the intersections of climate change and nuclear developments, the Council on Strategic Risks (CSR) posed questions about Russia’s climate, nuclear, and security intersections to four experts with different perspectives. Their responses highlight the range of analysis regarding Russia’s growing influence amidst a changing global order. 

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BRIEFER: Connecting Nuclear and Climate Policy in the Biden Administration

Over the past four years, the Council on Strategic Risks (CSR) has operated a working group to examine the convergence of two of the world’s greatest challenges: nuclear threats and climate change. Whether countries significantly expand reliance on nuclear energy to help address the climate crisis—or whether they pivot away from nuclear energy—either pathway will have a profound impact on future nuclear safety, security, and nonproliferation trends. The strength and contours of international political will to aggressively address the climate crisis will in turn shape nuclear trends. 

Read the briefer here.

VIDEO: Can Climate Change Undermine Nuclear Deterrence?

Some experts are concerned that tensions over water, territory, and other issues may increase nuclear detonation risks in regions like South Asia. An Indian Agni-II intermediate range ballistic missile on a road-mobile launcher, January 26, 2004. Antônio Milena (ABr)

By Natasha E. Bajema, Ph.D.

Maybe. It’s Complicated.

The Council on Strategic Risks (CSR) posed a series of questions about the Arctic region to four leading national security experts with different perspectives in a recent video interview below. Together, their diverse answers may help us to better understand the complex linkages across climate change, Arctic sea melt and new sea routes, prospects for conflict, competition, and cooperation within the global order, and new risks associated with nuclear weapons.

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