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The Foreign Minister of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Bert Koenders, emphasizes that climate change threatens international peace and security and speaks about his personal experience in Northern Mali, where he worked during his term as Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Head of the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission (MINUSMA).
This interview was conducted at the Planetary Security Conference in The Hague, 5-6 December 2016.
"In 2015 and 2016 two things came together: One is that almost everybody in Paris agreed on the enormous consequences of climate change. Secondly, we see at the same time, an urgency of the international security situations - in different countries but also geo-strategically. And we see more and more, even if it is not digital, that there is a relationship between climate change and security. I have seen it myself when I worked in Northern Mali. You see the desertification as a result of climate change, resulting in scarcity, therefore conflicts of different groups of people that live there in very difficult circumstances. That often leads to the importation of terrorism of extremist groups who take advantage of this. It is an example of the relationship between security and climate change. Therefore, those who think still – there are only a few – that they can deny the climate problem and even if they are not interested in it they might be interested in the security and migration part.
We have to fix these issues together, and therefore it is important to get different disciplines, different politicians and different countries together to move in very practical and operational terms on this different nexus between climate change and security."