Speech by Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas at the Berlin Climate and Security Conference

27.09.2021 - Speech

New York and the German county of Ahrweiler are far apart. But they both suffered the same fate this year: devastating floods killing dozens of people.

To other regions like the Sahel, the Horn of Africa, the Caribbean or South-East Asia, such extreme weather events are nothing new.

Around the globe, the effects of climate change are real. And while they harm people in developing countries the most, they spare no one.

Climate change is the existential threat of our time – for all humankind.

That is why we must make COP 26 in November a success. At last week’s meeting of Heads of State and Government, convened by the United Nations Secretary-General and Prime Minister Johnson, world leaders reaffirmed that goal.

Europe’s Green Deal is our clear commitment to contributing our fair share in fighting climate change. And to show our resolve, Germany and the European Union have raised their climate targets once more.

But climate change goes far beyond environmental, financial and economic challenges. It threatens peace and security worldwide:

  • Food insecurity and migration caused by extreme weather events undermine social and political cohesion, particularly in fragile states.
  • The lack of water deepens conflicts between states.
  • Heavy rainfall and storms affect military and peacekeeping operations.
  • And melting ice caps expand geopolitical competition to new parts of the world.

Climate and Security has therefore become a priority of our foreign policy. And I am grateful for your support and expertise in this.

  • At this conference two years ago, we initiated the Berlin Call for Action.
  • We are proud to lead the Weathering Risk project – a global climate-risk and foresight assessment.
  • With Nauru and partners from all around the world, we set up the Group of Friends on Climate and Security at the United Nations.
  • And we continue to push for a strong Security Council resolution that addresses the security risks of climate change.

I am glad that we all share a strong consensus on the link between climate change, peace and security.

Now we have to take the next step and operationalise this consensus. And that is what this conference is about.

Over the next few days, you will discuss how to deepen and broaden risk assessments, and how to convert data and analysis into action – in order to make climate and security an integral part of international mediation, peacekeeping and diplomacy.

Dear friends,

2021 has further exposed the existential dangers climate change poses to humanity.

But COP 26 offers us a chance to make 2021 the transformative year for global climate policy that it needs to be.

Our conference is a stepping-stone in tackling the security impacts of climate change along that way – and I thank you all for being part of it!


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