SECURITY COUNCIL HIGH LEVEL DEBATE - MAINTENANCE OF INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY: SECURITY IN THE CONTEXT OF TERRORISM AND CLIMATE CHANGE
9 December 2021
Statement by H.E. Dr Fiona Webster, Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations
Climate change exacerbates the existing root causes of poverty, and disproportionately affects the most fragile countries and the most vulnerable people within those countries. It is acting as a threat multiplier, indirectly escalating the risk of conflict through mechanisms such as food and water insecurity, economic shocks and human mobility. Of course, Niger has firsthand experience of the stresses imposed by a changing climate, including desertification and severe droughts.
Addressing climate change requires global cooperation – we must reduce emissions, invest in mitigation and adaptation strategies, and build social and economic resilience. In some countries – including those in the Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin – political, social and environmental vulnerabilities intersect. In these regions, building resilience and enhancing efforts towards averting, minimising and addressing the impacts of climate change is a key element of conflict prevention. Responsible management of the environment and natural resources, together with mitigation and adaptation planning and capacity building, must be better integrated into peacebuilding activities.
While assistance has been provided through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, regional coordination on climate change action and governance support could help drive more effective outcomes.
For example, in Australia’s own neighbourhood, the Pacific islands are at great risk of the adverse consequences of climate change and we have shown collective leadership to address the challenges. The Pacific Islands Forum countries signed the Boe (Boy) Declaration which acknowledged that climate change remains the single greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and wellbeing of our peoples.
To help implement the Boe Declaration, Australia is working with Pacific partners to establish the Pacific Fusion Centre, which is operating in Vanuatu to enhance regional information-sharing and analysis, and draw on climate data and disaster analysis to inform responses to shared security threats.
The relationship between security and climate change is complex to understand, and complex to address. But this cannot be an excuse for inaction.
Australia recognises that global and national efforts to reduce emissions and limit warming must be at the centre of our approach. Finalising the Rulebook for the Paris Agreement at COP 26 this year was a significant step forward. It reaffirmed the importance of meeting global challenges with global solutions through the rules-based order, and provides a framework to bring the Paris Agreement to life.
Australia believes the UNSC can and should be engaged on this issue. Other parts of the UN system must complement global, regional and national efforts, and assist us to better understand and address the security implications of climate change.
Australia would welcome the opportunity to help the many valuable parts of the UN system to coalesce around a collective response to these pressing issues.