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Nauru President Baron Waqa has called on the United Nations Security council for the appointment of a “special representative on climate and security” in order to fill a critical gap in the United Nations system and provide the council with the information it needs.
The Security Council, convened in New York Wednesday to discuss the nexus between climate change and conflicts around the globe, considered several concrete proposals to guide the 15-member organ’s efforts — or those of other United Nations entities — on that evolving and increasingly critical issue.
Speaking on behalf of the group of Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS) Waqa said: “There will be no return to a ‘normal’ climate in our lifetimes.” The situation will continue to deteriorate for decades, even if goals are achieved. There is still scientific evidence that the natural systems are increasingly out of balance.
“Greater competition over scarce resources, destruction of critical infrastructure, interruption of public services and human displacement — all will test the resilience of institutions and governance structures.
Climate change will be the defining issue of the next century, he said, stressing that preparation is long overdue, which is why the group is calling for the appointment of a special representative on climate and security. Such an appointment will fill a critical gap within the United Nations system, as well as provide the Council with information it needs to fulfil its existing mandate.
“Let me be clear: The appointment of a [Special Representative of the Secretary-General] should not expand the Security Council’s mandate.” Instead, he or she will serve the Secretary-General, as implied by the title.
“Noting that monitoring potential tipping points at the nexus of climate and security, he said facilitating regional and cross‑border cooperation on issues affected by climate change and supporting post-conflict situations when climate change is a risk factor are all critical functions the new Special Representative of the Secretary-General could begin to address. The Council needs better climate-related security risk information, analysis and early warning mechanisms to be able to make informed decisions,” President Waqa explained.
Ali Naseer Mohammed from Maldives, speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), said the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change must remain the primary United Nations agency in responding to the phenomena of climate change.
“As the Atlantic hurricane season gets under way, many small island developing States are still not fully recovered from last year’s hurricanes, which uprooted entire communities, caused substantial damage to vital infrastructure and rendered the entire islands uninhabitable. Many small islands are experiencing unpredictable rain patterns that have resulted in prolonged droughts, as well as floods. They are experiencing coastal erosion and the saltwater contamination of agricultural lands and freshwater reserves. Meanwhile, the impact of climate change on oceans is threatening livelihoods.
Climate change is no longer just about the future, he said.
“The danger is already here,” he warned, emphasising the need to address the persistent funding gaps. He urged Member States, particularly developed countries, to fully implement the commitments and obligations of the Paris Agreement, and other international agreements relating to climate change. Adequate and predictable financial resources, transfer of technology and capacity-building to developing countries are all essential.
Pennelope Beckles from Trinidad and Tobago, associating herself with the “Group of 77” developing countries and China and the Alliance of Small Island States, said climate change should remain within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change framework.
Small island developing States faced an imminent threat requiring a pre-emptive response that includes risk assessment, planning and appropriate financing. Calling climate change and sea‑level rise the most urgent threats to small island States, she cited a recently adopted Caribbean Community (CARICOM) declaration, which called for a global effort to close the mitigation ambition gap. While the Council could not combat climate change, it is within its purview to consider all risks that impact global peace and security, she stressed.
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