Understanding climate risks is crucial to ensuring effective and sustainable conflict prevention. On 11 July, Sweden will hold the first meeting in the UN Security Council since 2011 on climate-related security risks, to better understand how climate change impacts security, and enhance UN responses across the conflict cycle.
The relevance of climate change for peace and security has been a topic at the highest level within the UN on numerous occasions. 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.
During the last 18 months, the Council has also recognized the adverse effects of climate change and ecological changes on stability in several country-specific and regional contexts, such as the Lake Chad region (S/RES/2349), Somalia (S/RES/2408), and West Africa and the Sahel (S/PRST/2018/3).
Throughout these months, Sweden has been at the forefront of efforts to recognize that climate change and its negative impacts are no longer abstract but a present-day existential threat, with clear implications for peace and security. The meeting on 11 July will be chaired by Sweden’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ms. Margot Wallström, with briefings from: