Brussels – UN Environment called for swift action on the root causes and impacts of our changing climate, during a meeting on the ongoing and new threats posed by climate change on global peace and security in Brussels today.
At the high-level event Climate, Peace, and Security: The Time for Action, ministers and parliamentarians, as well as climate, foreign and security policy experts from around the world discussed a range of possible approaches to address this global and growing challenge, ranging from policy interventions to operational commitments
Erik Solheim, Head of UN Environment, proposed three actions to address the climate-security nexus: “First, we need to address water issues. Water management and diplomacy can help us relieve water stress and sea level rise,” he said. “We should further create a Marshall plan on solar energy. The Sahel holds an enormous opportunity for solar energy, which can help green and uplift the area. And finally, we need to assist Africa in getting urbanization right – to be sustainable and relieve stress on resources like land, food, and natural resourced.”
Environmental degradation coupled with political, economic and social insecurity have become major drivers of migration and refugee movements. It is estimated that an annual average of 21.5 million people have been displaced by weather-related natural disasters since 2008, and thousands more have fled their homes due to droughts or land degradation and coastal erosion.
“When we invest in the fight against climate change, we invest in our own security,” Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy said. “We need to treat the symptoms of climate change, and we need to also treat the causes – this is of our own self-interest.”
Climate change is considered a major threat multiplier – particular in already fragile regions –as it leads to scarcity of some of the most essential natural resources. The added tension of competition over diminishing natural capital, adds fuel to existing conflicts.
In order to remain ahead of emerging conflict exacerbated by environmental insecurity and the effects of climate change, swift action on international agreements such as the 2015 Paris agreement is critical.
Recent UN Security Council resolutions on the Chad Basin, the Sahel, and Somalia have opened important space for engagement on climate change and security. The resolutions recognize the adverse effects of climate and ecological changes on the stability of these regions. This recognition sets an important precedent for how the international community will approach land degradation and the impacts of climate change in fragile areas.
“We are at a time for extraordinary changes and we will continue to be” Sushma Swaraj, Minister of External Affairs of India said. ”I hope we can find lasting solutions for this generation and beyond.”
Notes to Editor
About UN Environment
UN Environment is the leading global voice on the global environment. It provides leadership and encourages partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations. UN Environment works with governments, the private sector, the civil society and with other UN entities and international organizations across the world.
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