Climate change – a threat to international security

Foreign Minister Maas at the meeting of the Group of Friends on Climate and Security on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly

Foreign Minister Maas at the meeting of the Group of Friends on Climate and Security on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, © Florian Gaertner/photothek.net

27.09.2018 - Article

The consequences of climate change threaten to deprive people of their livelihoods and thereby become a danger to international security. Germany is working to find Solutions.

Essential resources such as water and fertile ground will be dramatically reduced in many regions because of global warming. This could aggravate existing conflicts and trigger new disputes. It is high time for the international community to draw up measures to address these security risks. The global nature of climate change also means that it is only through international cooperation that the associated challenges and consequences can be addressed.

With this in mind, Germany founded a Group of Friends together with the island state of Nauru in August 2018. This Group held its first meeting at high political level attended by numerous heads of state and foreign ministers on the margins of the UN General Assembly in New York on 26 September.

Foreign Minister Maas: “We want to give the United Nations Security Council a better understanding of how, in specific situations, the impacts of climate change could aggravate conflict. The international community needs to take action in places where climate change poses a threat to people’s livelihoods before conflict breaks out. It must therefore be our common goal to help our partners deal with the consequences of climate change in order to prevent destabilisation, migration and displacement.”

Climate and security – what is Germany doing?

Germany will be a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for two years from 2019 to 2020. One of the areas it will be focusing on is the connection between climate change and international conflict. Not enough attention is yet paid to this issue. Germany will put the topic on the agenda wherever it is relevant. Its prime aim, however, is to develop strategies to solve the associated problems. The development of better early warning systems and prevention mechanisms is just one aspect.

Foreign Minister Maas outside the UN building in New York
Foreign Minister Maas outside the UN building in New York© Florian Gaertner/photothek.net

The UN Security Council is well placed to work on the nexus between climate and security policy. Climate change is an international challenge that requires an international response. For that reason, Germany will continue to campaign for the implementation of the Paris climate agreement in general and as a member of the Security Council.

Group of Friends as a forum for discussion and brainstorming

Germany and Nauru launched the UN Group of Friends on Climate and Security on 1 August (read more here). A total of 30 states have joined together with the aim of cooperating to develop solutions to address the security policy’s impact of climate change, raise public awareness and boost the involvement of the United Nations in this area.

The Group of Friends will play an important role during Germany’s membership of the Security Council as a forum for discussing policy ideas and making recommendations on issues such as enhancing states’ resilience to climate-related security risks.


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