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On 13 June, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) held a ministerial-level open debate on climate change, peace and security—the latest in a series of UNSC meetings on the topic. While many ministerial statements focused on the nexus of climate change, instability, and conflict, the conversation underscored how today’s competitive geopolitical dynamics are complicating good-faith efforts to address climate security in such multilateral fora. Statements from China, in particular, suggest it sees a geopolitical opportunity in such discussions. Namely, due to the United States and other countries in the Global North failing to live up to their commitments to provide climate finance, especially adaptation funds, to the Global South.
In last week’s meeting, China used its time at the microphone to level a series of pointed comments aimed implicitly at the United States and the European Union (EU). Beijing’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Zhang Jun, argued there were three areas in which the UNSC should focus its attention.(more…)
By Steve Brock and Deborah Loomis
The United States has made food security a key theme of its UN Security Council Presidency for the month of March, and today will chair a UNSC open debate on the links between conflict and food security. In many ways, the Council’s focus on food security is a closely-related continuation of the UK’s emphasis on climate security during its presidency last month. The World Climate and Security Report 2020 identified the deep linkages between climate change consequences and food insecurity across all regions of the globe.
According to the Global Report on Food Crises for 2020, over 135 million people faced acute food insecurity in 2019. The report characterized what it considered significant drivers of acute food insecurity as: conflict (affecting 77 million people in 22 countries), weather extremes (affecting some 34 million people in 25 countries), and economic shocks (affecting 24 million people in eight countries).(more…)
“No one country can solve the climate crisis on its own. It’s exactly the kind of challenge the United Nations was created to solve.” – U.S. Special Envoy John Kerry, UNSC High Level Meeting on Climate Security
On February 23, the UK capped off its February Presidency of the UN Security Council (UNSC) by hosting a high-level meeting on climate security, chaired by Prime Minister Boris Johnson. At the meeting, Johnson noted, “it is absolutely clear that climate change is a threat to our collective security and the security of our nations….climate change is a geopolitical issue every bit as much as it is an environmental one. And if this Council is going to succeed in maintaining peace and security worldwide then it’s got to galvanise the whole range of UN agencies and organisations into a swift and effective response.”
What might such a swift and effective response look like? As the United States assumes the UNSC Presidency in March, it has an opportunity to turn the speeches at the UK-led meeting into lasting action. The Presidency will be Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield’s first chance to advance President Biden’s repeated pledges to put climate change at the center of U.S. foreign policy. Possible activities the US could consider, in support of its broader whole-of-government strategy as outlined in the Executive Order on the climate crisis, are the following:(more…)
On January 25, 2019 the Dominican Republic, during its month-long presidency of the UN Security Council (UNSC), hosted an “open debate” on climate change and security, which featured a number of important moments. The World Meteorological Organization publicly addressed the UNSC for the first time in its history, and a number of countries (among them France, the UK, Germany, Peru, Poland and Belgium) called for the UNSC to establish increased analytical capacities for addressing climate risks to international security, such as a “clearing house” for data and information, including an early warning system and an annual report on climate and security to be delivered by the UN secretary general to the UNSC. These calls were consistent with the Center for Climate and Security’s “Responsibility to Prepare” recommendations delivered to the UNSC in December 2017, especially those on “institutionalization” and “rapid response” which recommended that the UN develop “Climate Security Crisis Watch Centers” to keep the UNSC informed. (more…)