Climate Change
Capacity Building
North America
U.S. Department of Defense

I am grateful for the opportunity to be here and participate in a very important forum.  Thank you, Minister Nicholson, for your hospitality.  And I recognize as well our friend Peter Mackay for his imagination, and resourcefulness, innovation, leadership, and a driving force behind this institution.  Thank you all who have had a significant role in organizing and ensuring that this forum continues to grow and strengthen and become even more relevant as the years go by, and address, as Minister Nicholson noted, some of the great challenges and issues that face our world today and I fear will be with us for some time.

Over the years, this conference has grown into an important venue for dialogue and discussion on emerging security trends, from cyber defense to the evolving threat of terrorism.  It brings together leaders from around the world, including a U.S. Congressional delegation that has been recognized already, led by Senators John McCain and Tim Kaine.  Their presence and leadership is an important part of why this gathering has become so successful.  I am always reassured when I see members of Congress with me, or at least most of the time – it depends on the forum and the hearings.  I do want to note their presence, and I know they particularly had a quite stimulating day yesterday.  I also know they welcome the opportunity to escape Washington.  We’re glad you’re here.  To my friend John McCain, thanks for his continued leadership and presence, I know what he has meant to keep this thing going.  His being here initially, I think Peter, was of particularly importance.  Thank you to my former colleagues and senior members of Congress who help lead our country.

The growth of this forum, as has been noted, is also a tribute to the vision of Minister Nicholson’s predecessor, Peter Mackay, and to the leadership of Peter van Praagh.  The Halifax Security Forum reflects Canada’s important role as a force for peace and security.  The United States deeply values its alliance with Canada, as we share much more than a 5,000-mile border.  We share a common history, a common history of values, and many common security interests.  We fought side-by-side in Afghanistan under a NATO umbrella, and we worked together to advance peace and security in the Western Hemisphere and around the world.  Earlier today, Minister Nicholson and I signed a defense policy framework that will help guide our future cooperation in the Asia-Pacific.

We also share the common interests of being Arctic nations.  Today, I want to focus my remarks on the forces that are driving dramatic changes in the world and the region’s environment, the long-term security implications of these changes, and how the U.S. Department of Defense is preparing to adapt to these 21st Century Arctic region challenges.

To fully appreciate what’s happening in the Arctic and the world, we should take a step back and consider the many dynamic shifts occurring in every region of the world.  Among them are the growing economic and geopolitical importance of the Asia-Pacific; conflict and instability across the Middle East and North Africa; the unprecedented diffusion of global economic power; new sources of and demand for energy; the rise of China, India, Brazil, and other nations; environmental degradation and devastating natural disasters; and the role of technology in closely linking the world’s people, their aspirations, and their grievances.

History is a recording of the past … it has recorded the rise of great powers, the fall of empires, and technological revolutions that have transformed the way people communicate, travel, trade, fight wars, and meet new threats and opportunities.

But the challenge of global climate change, while not new to history, is new to the modern world.  Climate change does not directly cause conflict, but it can significantly add to the challenges of global instability, hunger, poverty, and conflict.  Food and water shortages, pandemic disease, disputes over refugees and resources, more severe natural disasters – all place additional burdens on economies, societies, and institutions around the world.  Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines is a reminder of humanitarian disaster brought on by nature.  And climatologists warn us of the increased probability of more destructive storms to come.

The Department of Defense has been aware of these challenges for many years, and we are addressing them – including through a review of our energy strategy.  DoD invests in energy efficiency, new technologies, and renewable energy sources at our installations and all of our operations because it makes us a stronger fighting force and helps us carry out our security mission.

For the complete speech, please see U.S. Department of Defense.

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