The discussion on climate change as a threat to peace and security has gained some momentum after a UN Security Council meeting in July 2011. The most visible outcome of this meeting was a presidential statement asking for a strengthening of crisis and conflict prevention based on contextual information on possible security implications of climate change. The meeting encouraged diplomats around the world to further engage into discussions on how to strengthen climate diplomacy to avoid climate change destabilization of livelihoods around the world. As a result, diplomats joined a conference caravan aimed at peace and security that most recently stopped for two meetings in New York and Seoul.
In February, the Security Council again was the focus of the climate diplomats. Instead of convening a regular meeting, Pakistan and the United Kingdom had, however, invited for an Arria-Formula meeting – an informal, confidential gathering as a chance to exchange views among the Security Council members. This flexible procedural framework provides the possibility, for example, to invite experts to share their respective view on a specific topic. This practice was initiated back in 1992 when Ambassador Diego Arria of Venezuela used it to welcome a Bosnian priest in such an informal setting during the crisis in former Yugoslavia. At the Arria Meeting that took place on February 15th, the “priest” was climate scientist John Schellnhuber from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. His framing of future climate change risks encouraged German Ambassador Berger to highlight once again the required broadness of the climate diplomacy approach - referring also to the concept of sustainable development as discussed under the headline of a green economy: “[…] we cannot and must not continue to fuel our economies with fossil resources. This is why it is time now to move towards a green economy and truly sustainable development, in order to create the future we want – and to avoid a future we should all fear.”
The importance of greening the economy was also one of the topics discussed at the International Conference on “Climate Security in the Asia-Pacific Region” that was held in Seoul on March 21st and 22nd. Policy makers and experts discussed the need for more regional cooperation based on a whole-of-society approach. In fact, regional perspectives on the prospects of a joint green growth approach may help to address some of the concerns raised by countries such as India or China during the Arria-Formula meeting in New York and on other occasions. Dhanasree Jayaram, Associate Fellow at the Centre for Air Power Studies in New Delhi, elaborates on these concerns and outlines six reasons why the UN Security Council should not discuss climate change. She argues, among others, that the way climate security is discussed can be perceived as another attempt of the industrialised countries to brand climate change a 'developing country syndrome’. One may not agree with all reasons outlined by Dhanasree but she clearly emphasises one of the main challenges of the caravan of conferences described above: to find ways to frame climate diplomacy as a chance to offer strong solutions for sustainable peace and livelihood security. To get more guidance in this regard, a whole-of-society approach can serve as an entry point for a more sophisticated understanding of regionally specified narratives of climate diplomacy responses.
New report for policymakers provides an overview of the growing research on the links between climate change, security and peace. The synthesis identifies ten insights into climate-related security risks and lays the groundwork for the Global Climate Security Risk and Foresight Assessment, led by adelphi and PIK, that will be launched at the Berlin Climate and Security Conference.
In the wake of Germany’s United Nations Security Council (UNSC) presidency for the month of July 2020, its role in addressing climate change in the body gains even greater importance. A look into selected UNSC members that are also pushing the climate issue reveals: health and economic risks are key entry-points.
It’s official: India has been elected as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for 2021-22. Previously, the country has adopted a cautionary approach towards climate security. While it may not significantly shift its positions, global realities may trigger more openness, with an eye on multilateralism, rule of law and fairness.