Statement by Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on behalf of the Group of Friends on Climate and Security in the Open Debate of the Security Council on Climate and Security

23.02.2021 - Speech

It is my honour to address the Council on behalf of the 54 members of the Group of Friends on Climate and Security: a broad and diverse group of countries from all continents. We are united by a common concern: climate change is the existential threat of our times.

Last year was once again the hottest year on record.

  • We are witnessing storms, droughts and flooding like never before.
  • Degraded ecosystems and the loss of species threaten food security and our long-term survival.
  • And the poorest and most vulnerable will suffer the most, because fragile countries are disproportionally affected by climate change. And entire island nations are at risk of disappearing.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The youth of the world is demanding action. We are putting their future, their safety, their well-being and their health at risk, if we don’t act.

I thank Prime Minister Johnson for showing leadership. And I can assure you - you can count on our support ahead of COP 26 in Glasgow. And we are delighted to welcome the United States back to the Paris Agreement. We look forward to the new administration’s re-engagement.

Many countries, as well as the European Union, have been raising their level of ambition over the last months.

But more needs to be done to make COP 26 a real success.

Mr. President,

We need a concerted effort by the entire UN system to make climate action its top priority. And I thank my friend, António Guterres, for his leadership on this.

The evidence is clear.

  • The effects of climate change fuel, or further deepen conflicts.
  • They make it harder to build peace.
  • And they negatively affect social and gender equality.

The United Nations has a key role to play in this. It can build on the progress we have already made, for example with the establishment of the Climate Security Mechanism.

Climate and security belongs firmly on the Security Council agenda, to reflect its “primary responsibility for […] international peace and security”. Some progress was made by addressing climate change in many specific mandates and by establishing the Informal Expert Group of members of the Security Council. But this is only the beginning.

Last July, our friends from Nauru spoke here for the Group of Friends and presented the Council with a “plan of action”. Today, we are again calling for:

  • Regular reporting by the Secretary-General on the security implications of climate change.
  • The appointment of a Special Representative for Climate and Security.
  • Climate-sensitive prevention, mediation, and peacebuilding.
  • Training for all relevant UN personnel on the implications of climate change on peace and security and humanitarian crises.
  • And, finally, for more cooperation with civil society, regional and national actors on climate-related security risks.

Last year, ten members of the Security Council, including Germany, translated this plan into a draft resolution. Now is the moment to put a strong text back on the table and to adopt it. We stand ready to work with you towards achieving a resolution that reflects the points I just outlined.

A strong resolution would demonstrate to the world that the Security Council is showing leadership on what is one of the gravest threats to peace and security of our times.

Thank you very much!


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