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

24.06.2020 - Speech

For most of us, exponential growth was an abstract concept – until the Covid-19 pandemic hit. In the past weeks, we have all learned about its potentially catastrophic effects.

For climate change, the pattern is the same, even though it happens in slow motion. And the effects are just as severe – in terms of human lives and future conflict.

Foreign and security policy must reflect this and finally embrace a new concept of security.

Today, we know: Not a single shot must be fired to throw entire regions into turmoil. A long drought can be equally destructive.

Climate change has become one of the key risks to global peace and stability. Against this backdrop, Germany has decided to put the impacts of climate change on peace and security at the heart of its membership of the UN Security Council. Addressing them must become part of its daily work.

During our Presidency of the Council in July, we will organize a high-level debate on the topic. We want to make progress – despite clear reluctance by some Council members.

But we can count on support from the vast majority of its members, the Group of Friends on climate and security, and the United Nations family as a whole.

And what is also important: We can rely on scientific evidence and on our strong partnership with civil society.

One product of this partnership is the “Global Risk and Foresight Assessment” that Germany will be launching today. It is a state-of-the-art report on climate and security. It has been compiled by leading scientific institutions and provides concrete solutions for decision makers.

Our hope is that it will become a global reference document in the future. And I am glad that Prof. Edenhofer will tell us more about this project later.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The Covid-19 pandemic has shown us what we are capable of as humans. We flattened the curve. We even saw what was deemed unbelievable a few months ago: clean canals in Venice and a clear sky over Beijing.

So, let us build on that experience. And let us work together to flatten not only the curve of the pandemic, but also the curves of rising emissions and growing climate-related risks to international peace and security.

Climate change does not take a break in times of Covid-19. Neither should we.

Thank you.

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