With the active involvement of German climate diplomacy, the UN has offered a regular platform for discussing climate risks for peace and stability.

The UN Security Council first considered climate change in April 2007 at the request of the United Kingdom. Two years later, in June 2009, the UN General Assembly passed resolution A/RES/63/281, proposed by several small island states, which asked the UN Secretary-General to produce a comprehensive report on climate change and its possible security implications. Published in September 2009, the report (A/64/350) highlighted climate change as a ‘threat multiplier’ with the potential to exacerbate existing threats to international peace and security.

In recognition of the growing security concerns posed by climate change, the German Presidency of the Security Council took the initiative to consolidate the topic within the United Nations framework by calling an Open Debate on the impact of climate change on the maintenance of international peace and security in July 2011. The main objectives of this Open Debate were to strengthen the profile of climate change on the foreign policy agenda and to form and strengthen international alliances to drive the necessary processes to address the issue.

With the unanimous adoption of a Presidential Statement during this session, the Security Council reaffirmed the importance of establishing strategies of conflict prevention, and stated its concern about the possible adverse effects of climate change for international peace and security. This statement about climate change as an issue of top international priority sent a strong signal throughout the UN system and reinvigorated climate negotiations. adelphi contributed to this process by initiating a series of informal preparatory events aimed at involving the scientific community and civil society in this process, organising several such events and developing ideas for the scope of the Security Council’s Presidential Statement.

Further important UN debates followed after the 2011 debate:

  • Side-event during the UN General Assembly on Climate Change – A Challenge for Preventive Diplomacy in September 2012
  • Arria-formula meeting of the UN Security Council on Security Dimensions of Climate Change, 15 February 2013
  • Arria-formula meeting of the UN Security Council on Climate Change as a Threat Multiplier for Global Security, 30 June 2015
  • Open Debate at the UN Security Councilon Maintenance of International Peace and Security – Peace and Security Challenges Facing Small Island Developing States, 30 July 2015 (7469th Meeting)
  • High Level Side Event during the UN General Assembly on Climate and Security – The Foreign Policy Dimension of Climate Change, hosted by Germany and France, September 2015
  • Open Debate at the UN Security Council on Peace and Security in Africa – Challenges in the Sahel Region, 26 May 2016 (7699th Meeting)
  • Open Debate at the UN Security Council on Maintenance of Peace and Security: Water, Peace and Security, 22 November 2016